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Posts Tagged ‘Searching for Answers for Cancer Patients’

Searching for Answers for Cancer Patients—the Wrap Up

In Uncategorized on April 7, 2014 at 11:34 am

Searching for Answers for Cancer Patients has been a wonderful series on my radio show, Survive and Live Well, created to empower cancer patients to take control of their health, navigate treatment choices, enhance and improve the efficacy of treatment and to boost quality of life.

In Part I, Dr Schachter presented a critical analysis of current conventional cancer standard of care practices and opened our eyes to explore all options. In Part II, Dr Schachter discussed his concerns about integrative oncology and its tendency to accept conventional treatment as a given, critiqued various diets for cancer patients, and shared what he believes to be important areas for the cancer clinician and the cancer patient to consider as part of a total program including the incorporation of vitamins D, K2 (MK4), A and iodine into the treatment program.

In Part III Dr Schachter and I discussed ways of improving the results of conventional cancer treatment–specifically the various tests which help clinicians determine which therapies might be most helpful for a particular patient, as examined in Ralph Moss’ book Customized Cancer Treatment.  We also critiqued Brian Schaefer’s Salvestrols: Journeys to Wellness.

Michael Schachter and ElynWe kicked off Tuesday’s conversation (Part IV) with a huge appreciation for Ann Fonfa and another amazing conference. If you have not yet been to one of the Annie Appleseed Project conferences, you might want to consider going–excellent speakers, content and delicious organic meals.

We then discussed Vitamin D at length, delving into the extensive list of health problems that can be managed or resolved with the judicious use of Vitamin D, especially when used along with other fat-soluble vitamins such as K2 and Vitamin A.

Here are some conditions that may be helped with vitamin D:

–     Osteoporotic fractures

–     Falls

–     Hypertension

–     Cancer

–     Adjuvant TBC therapy

–     Respiratory infection/influenza risk

–     Pregnancy outcomes

–     Periodontal disease

–     Insulin sensitivity & diabetes

There is supportive medical literature in peer-reviewed journals for each of them and several have more than one study. For all of these conditions, there is evidence for a causal connection between serum 25 (OH) D levels and the various health benefits, as shown by a number of randomized double-blind placebo controlled studies.  For cancer, we have only one successful randomized control study showing that an extra 1,100 IU of vitamin D given daily to a group of older women for 4 years reduced the cancer rate in those women by about 70%. This study was published in 2007. Dr. Schachter believes that more studies like this haven’t been done because vitamin D is a natural substance that can’t be patented. As a result, there is little economic motivation to carry out these expensive clinical trials.

I questioned Dr Schachter as to why vitamin D can be helpful for so many conditions. It turns out that the hormone derivative from vitamin D (1,25 Hydroxy D) is formed in cells all over the body and functions as a type of password for other stimuli to up-regulate or down-regulate the expression of various genes.

What most of us learned in high school biology, college and medical school was that vitamin D (also called cholecalciferol) was formed in the skin from cholesterol in the presence of ultra violet B rays from the sun (also from tanning machines) or from a small number of foods like certain fish. This cholecalciferol then migrates to the liver where a hydroxyl group (-OH) is added to form 25 Hydroxy Vitamin D.  The 25 Hydroxy D circulates in the bloodstream. The level of this substance in the bloodstream is the best available measure for the vitamin D status of the body.  Everyone agrees that this is what happens in the body.

The NEXT IMPORTANT STEP IS WHAT IS NEW. The old teaching was that 25 Hydroxy D circulates in the bloodstream until it reaches the kidneys. Then another hydroxyl (OH) group is added to form 1,25 Dihydroxy D which is the active hormonal derivative of vitamin D. According to this old teaching, this derivative form of vitamin D then leaves the kidney, enters the bloodstream and travels to various organs, enters them goes into the cell and the nucleus of the cell to activate various important enzymes.

RECENT INFORMATION INDICATES THAT THIS IS NOT THE ONLY WAY THAT 1,25 DIHYDROXY D IS FORMED IN THE BODY.  IT TURNS OUT THAT EVERY CELL IN THE BODY IS CAPABLE OF MAKING 1,25 HYDROXY D FROM 25 HYDROXY D. So, when an organ or a cell needs 1,25 Hydroxy D, it obtains  25 hydroxy D from the bloodstream and within the cell, converts the 25 Hydroxy D to 1,25 Dihydroxy D. In order for this to occur optimally, there needs to be relatively high concentrations of 25 Hydroxy D circulating in the bloodstream. Thus, every cell in any organ is capable of making this active form of 1,25 Hydroxy D if sufficient 25 Hydroxy D is present. THIS IS HOW THE 25 HYDROXY D AFFECTS THE FUNCTIONING OF EVERY CELL (ORGAN) IN THE BODY. It is important also to realize that every time this 25 Hydroxy D acts, it is destroyed where it has its effect within the cell.  So, it is important to keep the 25 Hydroxy D level optimal, so that it is constantly available to do its job.

Both the optimal serum level of 25 Hydroxy D and the dosage of vitamin D as a supplement are extremely controversial at this time. The position of the Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine (IOM) is that everything is fine if the 25 Hydroxy D level is 20 nG/dl and certainly great if it is 30 nG/ml. The vitamin D council presents lots of evidence to indicate that above 40 is optimal for many functions AND A FEW RENEGADES LIKE DR SCHACHTER THINK THAT BETWEEN 60 AND 100 IS OPTIMAL, ESPECIALLY FOR SERIOUS CONDITIONS LIKE CANCER. One of the best lectures he has seen and highly recommends about vitamin D was done by Robert P Heaney MD. It can be seen at the website: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Za2H5oTXJY.  In this lecture Dr Heaney gives a great explanation of how vitamin D can be helpful for so many conditions.

Regarding the importance of vitamin A and how it works together with vitamin D, Dr Schachter explained  how vitamin D combines with D receptor, vitamin A combines with vitamin A receptor (RXR) and these two components  combine together to enter the nucleus of the cell to affect the up and down regulation of genes. This generally results in an up-regulation of anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer genes and a down-regulation of pro-inflammatory and pro-cancer genes.

Dr Schachter also  suggested to us  that it is critical  to have sufficient Vitamin K2 in order to ensure that calcium is bound and held in  bones and at the same time is removed from our arteries, joints or other tissues where it doesn’t belong. Vitamin K2 also inhibits cancer cell lines, such as colon, breast, leukemia, brain and many more. Dr. Schachter discussed the two forms of vitamin K2 that are available in supplements (Menadione 4 or MK4 and Menadione 7 or MK7). Although most supplement companies are using MK7, Dr. Schachter prefers to use MK4 for a variety of reasons, one of the most important of which is that only MK4 has been involved with successful randomized double-blind placebo controlled trials.

We also spoke about the inverse relationship of vitamin D intake and various cancers, including melanoma—great motivation to get some sunshine (or take the supps).  We tackled the argument by dermatologists that our lives depend on the liberal use of sunscreen.  Dr Schachter debunked that myth—just please remember that while sunscreen usually contains toxic ingredients and blocks the absorption of vitamin D, sunburn is not the goal.  Stick with an anti-inflammatory diet (natural sunscreen) and enjoy some sun—just don’t overdo it.

If you would like more information regarding Vitamin D, there are several books and websites that Dr Schachter recommends, though all of them have some limitations. One could start with books by Michael Holick MD, PhD: The UV Advantage and The Vitamin D Solution. He also likes the book Vitamin D3 and Solar Power for Optimal Health by Marc Sorenson Ed.D.A great deal of information can be obtained from the Vitamin D Council website, though they charge $5 a month to keep up with their latest information.  You may also want to replay Parts I, II, III and IV of this series.

We wrapped up the conversation with kudos to Peter Gotzche for his brave work and incredible book Deadly Medicines and Organised Crime: How Big Pharma Has Corrupted Healthcare, as well as Dr Kelly Turner’s extensive research on the radical remission of cancer and her book Radical Remission: Surviving Cancer Against All Odds.  Both of these books will give you powerful insight on taking control of your health and finding the best path to wellness.  You will gain valuable insight into the dangers of operating out of fear when you intuition tells you the treatment may be far worse than the disease. Dr Turner was on Survive and Live Well on April 1, 2014, and Dr Gotzche will be on the show in May.

Replay the Searching for Answers series on Survive and Live Well via the following links or via iHeart RadioTalk under the heading Spreakers or Health or via www.schachtercenter.com.  

Searching for Answers for Cancer Patients, Part I

December 10th, 2013– http://hipcast.com/podcast/H1tlrkJs

To read the summary of Part I, Click Here

 Searching for Answers for Cancer Patients, Part II

January 21st, 2014– http://hipcast.com/podcast/HZ2hF9js

To read the summary of Part II, Click Here

 Searching for Answers for Cancer Patients, Part III

February 11th, 2014– http://hipcast.com/podcast/HBxnqhps

To read the summary of Part III, Click Here

 Searching for Answers for Cancer Patients—Part IV–The Wrap Up

March 25, 2014– http://hipcast.com/podcast/HVNGyq2s

Elyn

             ~~If you don’t know your options, you don’t have any~~

 MEDICAL DISCLAIMER:  Reading the information in this post does not constitute a physician-patient relationship. The information included in this post is for educational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always consult with your healthcare provider regarding a medical condition or any treatments.

Dr. Michael B. Schachter is a magna cum laude graduate of Columbia College and Columbia P&S Medical School in NYC. He is also a Board Certified Psychiatrist and a Certified Nutrition Specialist. Dr. Schachter has been involved with nutritional and integrative health care for 35 years. A leader in alternative cancer therapies, EDTA chelation and orthomolecular psychiatry, he is a past president of the American College of Advancement in Medicine (ACAM). He has authored numerous articles and was a major contributor to the large chapter about him in Burton Goldberg’s classic “Alternative Medicine Definitive Guide to Cancer”. His published 2010 paper “Integrative Oncology for Clinicians and Cancer Patients” helps to guide patients in developing a cancer treatment program. His latest article published in 2013 entitled “Integrating Nutrition and Selected Controversial Nutritional Supplements into a Cancer Treatment” is an abridged and updated version of his 2010 article. In 2010, Dr. Schachter received the Humanitarian Award from the Cancer Control Society in California. He has a special interest in the role of iodine in health and disease. Dr. Schachter is the director of the Schachter Center for Complementary Medicine in Suffern, NY.

More information about Dr. Schachter and the Center are available at the website:  www.schachtercenter.com.  Many articles by Dr Schachter can be accessed from this site, including the two articles mentioned above. Also, several of Dr. Schachter’s lectures on DVD are available for a fee. Available DVDs can be seen by clicking on the option on the home page.

 Elyn Jacobs is a breast cancer survivor, professional cancer strategist, speaker, and the Executive Director for the Emerald Heart Cancer Foundation. Elyn empowers women to choose the path for treatment that best fits their own individual needs. She is passionate about helping others move forward into a life of health and well-being. Elyn has been featured on CNN Money, Talk About Health, and Breast Cancer Answers and has written for the Pink Paper, Breast Cancer Wellness, Integrative Oncology Essentials, Surviving Beautifully, Body Local and more, and writes the Options for Life column for the Natural Healing-Natural Wellness Newsletter.  Elyn hosts the Survive and Live Well Radio Show on the Cancer Support Network. Elyn lives in New York with her husband and two young boys. https://elynjacobs.wordpress.com/about/

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Searching for Answers for Cancer Patients, Part III

In Uncategorized on February 15, 2014 at 3:01 pm

On Tuesday Dr Michael Schachter joined me for Searching for Answers for Cancer Patients, Part III.  In part I, Dr Schachter presented a critical analysis of current conventional cancer standard of care practices. In Part II, Dr Schachter discussed his concerns about integrative oncology and its tendency to accept conventional treatment as a given, critiqued various diets for cancer patients, and shared what he believes to be important areas for the cancer clinician and the cancer patient to consider as part of a total program including the incorporation of vitamins D, K2 (MK4), A and iodine into the program.

In Part III Dr Schachter and I discussed ways of improving the results of conventional cancer treatment–specifically the various tests which help clinicians determine which therapies might be most helpful for a particular patient, as examined in Ralph Moss’ book “Customized Cancer Treatment”.  We also critiqued Brian Schaefer’s “Salvestrols: Journeys to Wellness”.

Improving the Results of Conventional Cancer Treatment

Tests have been developed to help clinicians determine which chemotherapy agents may be most helpful in a particular patient. The tests are done on samples from the patient. In one type of test, a fresh sample of cancer cells removed from the patient (for example, a portion of the cancer removed from the tumor that has been removed) is sent by overnight mail to a laboratory that conducts tests on the sample. Arrangements for this must be made prior to the surgery by the surgeon contacting the laboratory and finding out how the specimen is to be sent immediately after surgery.  Two laboratories that are doing this work are both run by competent and conscientious oncologists.  They are:

1)  Robert A Nagourney MD/Rational Therapeutics:

http://www.rational-t.com/default.aspx

2) Larry Weisenthal MD/Cytometric Testing for Cancer:

http://weisenthalcancer.com/Home.html

Ralph Moss, who has written many important books about cancer for patients has authored the book “Customized Cancer Treatment” in which he discusses these tests in detail, using published studies that suggest that using these tests BEFORE beginning a chemotherapy cancer protocol and using the results to help set up a treatment protocol, can vastly improve the results. To do one of these tests requires the cooperation of the surgeon and certain things must be done prior to the surgery.

The test is something like a culture and sensitivity test that is done with bacteria, when an attempt to grow particular isolated bacteria from the patient (as for example from a urine culture). The bacteria are grown in separate dishes in a culture medium. To each of these dishes, a different antibiotic is  added. The antibiotic (s) that inhibit the growth the most would be the most likely to be most effective for that particular infection.

Other tests are being used, but are not as well documented as the tests just described. One of these tests, the CTC (Circulating Tumor Cells) requires a blood sample, rather than a surgical specimen. Circulating cancer cells are analyzed to determine likely success in using various chemotherapy agents.  Laboratories using this procedure are located in Greece and in Texas, as well as Germany and possibly a few other locations.

One integrative oncologist that claims good results from the Texas Laboratory is James Forsythe MD from Reno, Nevada. He has presented survival statistics for advanced cancer patients and these survival statistics for various advanced cancer patients do compare favorably with published survival studies of advanced cancer patients using only conventional treatments. It is a little difficult to assess just how much the testing in Texas is responsible for these good results, but Dr. Forsythe thinks the testing is helpful.

Another type of test that is sometimes used requires a cell block specimen that can be taken from the surgical specimen that is preserved after the surgery. This does not require a fresh specimen and the specimen can be sent even months after the surgery. In this test, the cancer cells are analyzed for the presence of various enzymes. The enzymes that are found (expressed) in greatest quantity can be targeted with either chemotherapeutic agents or with targeted therapies. Dr Schachter mentioned that he has never used this test, but has been told by a few oncologists that have used it that the computerized explanation that goes with it is not very good. The laboratory that does this type of testing is: Caris Life Sciences: http://www.carislifesciences.com.

More information on these tests can be found in Ralph Moss’s book “Customized Cancer Treatments” and from the websites of these laboratories.  Keep in mind that generally  these tests are NOT covered by insurance and can cost thousands of dollars. However, sometimes they may be covered if this is negotiated with the insurance company in advance.

For more info on CTC testing, check out Ralph Moss’s book “Customized Cancer Treatment” or explore the following links::

www.rgcc-genlab.com

http://www.bestanswerforcancer.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/Townsend2013.pdf.

Salvestrols

In previous interviews, Dr Schachter and I have discussed Salvestrols, natural substances that may have a role in preventing cancer and helping the body to manage it.  In this interview Dr Schachter gave a short summary of the benefits and limitations of Salvestrols.  To replay the June 2013 podcast on Salvestrols, Click Here.  To replay the December 2012 podcast, Click Here.

To read more: Salvestrols: Does Nature Hold the Answer to Cancer  and Salvestrols: Nature’s Rescue Mechanism from Cancer and Salvestrols: An Important Piece in the Cancer Fighting Puzzle.

Asked if there were any controlled, randomized trials carried out to prove that Salvestrols worked, Dr Schachter responded:

“No, the developers concluded that for many reasons, it would be best to make Salvestrols available as a nutritional supplement since they were natural substances and not synthetic drugs. If they had taken the path of trying to market these substances as drugs, the onerous process could take 20 years or more and cost millions or even billions of dollars. Instead a few papers were authored, primarily by Brian Schaefer, discussing the experiences of some people with cancer who took Salvestrols. Many of these people seemed to benefit and the author of these articles, Brian Schaefer went on to write a book entitled “Salvestrols: Nature’s Defense Against Cancer”, which we discussed during our previous interviews and which you wrote about on your blog. “

Brian Schaefer has since then authored a second book on Salvestrols titled “Salvestrols: Journeys to Wellness”.   Whereas the first book went into some detail about how the Salvestrol theory developed and just had a few brief case histories, this book was primarily based on follow-ups of the patients that Brian presented in his 3 papers published in the Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine In 2007, 2010 and 2012. A few of these cases were also discussed briefly in his first book. Dr. Schaefer attempted to analyze the cases and come up with some general principles about people taking Salvestrols. He also discussed in more detail than in the first book tests that are being developed for diagnosing cancer and monitoring the course of treatment.

The developers of Salvestrols are in the process of developing tests for cancer based on the presence of CYP1B1 in the bloodstream or metabolites of Salvestrols when a fixed amount is administered. These tests would be of tremendous value because they may allow for diagnosing the presence of cancer cells in the body long before they would be diagnosed on clinical ground or with scans. When using natural, non-toxic substances and lifestyle changes, the earlier a patient is treated, the better the results will be.

One of the biggest problems with regard to cancer is assessing whether or not a treatment is working. Conventional oncologists often use frequent CT (with or without PET) scans and/or MRI’s with Gadolinium contrast. As we mentioned during a previous interview, these procedures may actually harm the patient and really offer very little when it comes to assessing patients, especially for long-term effects. Diagnostic tests using blood samples seem to me to offer a great potential benefit, but unfortunately, they are not yet ready for prime time.

What are some of the most important principles that Brian Schaefer comes up with for patients taking Salvestrols?

The supposition is that people whose Salvestrol intake is low are probably suffering from a Salvestrol deficiency and that the sooner and more completely this is corrected, the better a person will do. So, here are a few principles suggested by Dr. Schaefer:

  • Once there is a demonstrated deficiency of Salvestrols (evidence of cancer or precancerous lesions), the patient should start on sufficient doses of Salvestrols through diet and supplements and if there is a good response, should remain on a program that could include supplements INDEFINITELY. Several of Brian’s cases got into trouble when the patient was told by his physician that “he/she was cancer-free”. There is no such thing. When patients seem to have a good outcome in terms of natural cancer treatments, are told they are cancer-free and go back to old habits, the chances of a cancer recurrence is very high.
  • Use of Salvestrols should also be accompanied by healthy changes in lifestyle with sufficient rest and sleep, exercise, a healthy diet and improved response to stressful situations.
  • Attempts should be made to make sure that nutrients that are necessary for optimal response to Salvestrols are present, including biotin, vitamin C, niacin or niacinamide, magnesium and selenium.

What are the limitations of Brian Schaefer’s latest book?

There are several limitations to Brian’s book and I am sure he would be the first to acknowledge them. Brian had few if any medical records available to him. Reports are based on what patients told him that doctors told them.  Here are some specific weaknesses of the book:

  • In many of the cases, patient received other treatments in addition to Salvestrols. This was a particularly important criticism for all of the prostate cancer patients discussed, as treatments, such as the blockage or diminution of testosterone (androgen), can frequently cause a lowering of PSA and sometimes dramatic clinical effects without Salvestrols.
  • Follow-up was incomplete in some cases. Here I think particularly of the breast cancer patient in her 30’s. She had a dramatic response to Salvestrols and appeared to be doing very well after stopping chemotherapy. However, when the family was contacted, it was learned that she had died. No information was available as to how this occurred, except that Dr. Schaefer was able to find out that this patient stopped taking Salvestrols.
  • Knowledge about the long-term effects of Salvestrols was unclear in several of the cases because they stopped taking them. One case that comes to mind is the man with lung cancer who appeared to have a dramatic effect to Salvestrols in a relatively short period of time after at first being told that he was inoperable. He developed a recurrence of his lung cancer 5 years later, after being off Salvestrols for several years. Because of circumstances, he decided to do conventional treatment rather than Salvestrols when the cancer recurred.
  • We really don’t get much of a chance to see how well the Salvestrols help when patients have been harmed by the negative effects of conventional treatment (radiation and chemotherapy).
  • My own personal experience is clearly that Salvestrols are not a panacea in any sense of the word but should be considered an important element for some patients.
  • My sense is that both of Brian Schaefer’s books are worth-while reading, especially for anyone trying to understand and/or deal with cancer.

Replay Parts I, II and III via the following links or via iHeart RadioTalk under the heading Spreakers or Health.

Dr Michael Schachter: Searching for Answers for Cancer Patients, Part I:

December 10th, 2013– http://hipcast.com/podcast/H1tlrkJs

Dr Michael Schachter: Searching for Answers for Cancer Patients, Part II:

January 21st, 2014– http://hipcast.com/podcast/HZ2hF9js

Dr Michael Schachter: Searching for Answers for Cancer Patients, Part III:

February 11th, 2014– http://hipcast.com/podcast/HBxnqhps

Dr Michael Schachter: Searching for Answers for Cancer Patients, Part IV--the Wrap Up

March 25th, 2014– http://hipcast.com/podcast/HVNGyq2s

To read the summary of Part I, Click Here

To read the summary of Part II, Click Here

Elyn

             ~~If you don’t know your options, you don’t have any~~

 MEDICAL DISCLAIMER:  Reading the information in this post does not constitute a physician-patient relationship. The information included in this post is for educational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always consult with your healthcare provider regarding a medical condition or any treatments.

Dr. Michael B. Schachter MD, CNS, FACAM is a magna cum laude graduate of Columbia College and Columbia P&S Medical School in NYC. He is also a Board Certified Psychiatrist and a Certified Nutrition Specialist. Dr. Schachter has been involved with nutritional and integrative health care for 35 years. A leader in alternative cancer therapies, EDTA chelation and orthomolecular psychiatry, he is a past president of the American College of Advancement in Medicine (ACAM). He has authored numerous articles and was a major contributor to the large chapter about him in Burton Goldberg’s classic “Alternative Medicine Definitive Guide to Cancer”. His published 2010 paper “Integrative Oncology for Clinicians and Cancer Patients” helps to guide patients in developing a cancer treatment program. His latest article published in 2013 entitled “Integrating Nutrition and Selected Controversial Nutritional Supplements into a Cancer Treatment” is an abridged and updated version of his 2010 article. In 2010, Dr. Schachter received the Humanitarian Award from the Cancer Control Society in California. He has a special interest in the role of iodine in health and disease. Dr. Schachter is the director of the Schachter Center for Complementary Medicine in Suffern, NY.

 More information about Dr. Schachter and the Center are available at the website:  www.schachtercenter.com.  Many articles by Dr Schachter can be accessed from this site, including the two articles mentioned above.

 Elyn Jacobs is a breast cancer survivor, professional cancer strategist, speaker, and the Executive Director for the Emerald Heart Cancer Foundation. Elyn empowers women to choose the path for treatment that best fits their own individual needs. She is passionate about helping others move forward into a life of health and well-being. Elyn has been featured on CNN Money, Breast Cancer Answers, Courage and Grace, and Talk About Health, and has written for the Pink Paper, Breast Cancer Wellness, Integrative Oncology Essentials, Surviving Beautifully, Body Local and more, and writes the Options for Life column for the Natural Healing-Natural Wellness Newsletter.  Elyn hosts the Survive and Live Well Radio Show on the Cancer Support Network. She lives in New York with her husband and two young boys. https://elynjacobs.wordpress.com/about/

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Searching for Answers for Cancer Patients-Part 1

In Uncategorized on February 3, 2014 at 1:03 pm

Last week I once again had the pleasure of chatting with Dr Michael Schachter on my radio show Survive and Live Well. Our topic–Searching for Answers for Cancer Patients, a three part discussion starting with a critique of the current standard of care all the way to the latest therapies that alternative medicine has to offer.  In part one on December 10th, Dr Schachter presented a critical analysis of current conventional cancer standard of care practices. In part two, Dr Schachter critiqued varies diets for cancer patients, and discussed what he believes to be important areas for the cancer clinician and the cancer patient to consider as part of a total program. Below is a synopsis of Part I (Part II to follow).

Part I, December 10th, 2013 –Know Your Options: Never Operate Out of Fear

The current standard of care (SOC) recommends/mandates the use of surgery, radiation, chemotherapy and targeted therapies as the first line of defense against cancer.  Dr Schachter presented a critical analysis of why this might not always be the best answer for cancer–and certainly should not be the only options considered by the cancer patient. He explained that patients are often bullied into accepting treatment and may even be misled into thinking that they are being offered a cure; but that sadly this is often a gross exaggeration of the ability of conventional medicine to cure the cancer patient.  He also pointed out that the SOC might actually be contributing to more cancer and in some cases worsens the prognosis of patients with cancer in a significant number of cases. Additionally, conventional cancer treatment may result in life-threatening side effects and a reduced quality of life. (Integrative oncology has made significant strides in improving survival from cancer and its treatment, but we are still not winning the war.)

Although Dr. Schachter applauds the efforts of practitioners who have begun to make nutritional recommendations, including dietary suggestions and nutritional supplements, to cancer patients undergoing conventional treatment, he is concerned that integrative oncology practitioners tend to accept conventional treatment as a given. As an example, he cited the excellent work of Keith Block MD, who is regarded by many as the most respected integrative oncologist in the United States. His 2009 published book, “Life over Cancer” is regarded by such respected integrative physicians and scientists as Andrew Weil MD, Leo Galland MD, James Gordon MD and Ralph Moss as the definitive work in integrative oncology. Dr. Schachter points out that much of the material in this book is geared to helping patients tolerate the adverse effects of conventional treatment, such as radiation and chemotherapy. Dr. Schachter’s position is that it may be time to question the entire approach of accepting conventional treatment as a given. Many cancer patients may be better off just ignoring recommendations for conventional treatment and focusing on alternative non-toxic treatment modalities. (Note that this section on Dr. Block was discussed in Part 2, but its placement seemed more appropriate here.)

Chemotherapy interferes with rapidly growing cells and is non-specific: normal cells are killed with cancer cells.  Currently there seems to be a movement toward what are called targeted therapies as an adjunct to surgery, radiation and chemotherapy.  Targeted therapies block the growth of cancer cells by interfering with specific targeted   enzymes needed for carcinogenesis and tumor growth.  Dr Schachter explained that targeted therapies mostly show modest benefits of a few months more survival in the clinical trials that have been conducted with advanced stage 4 cancer patients. Also, these treatments still have adverse side effects because the enzymes that are inhibited are also needed by normal cells and their inhibition may result in a long list of adverse effects. Nevertheless, the adverse effects of the targeted therapies are somewhat less than classical chemotherapy, which kills many normal cells along with the cancer cells they are designed to kill.

At a recent conference I  attended, the speakers asserted that chemotherapy has not been effective for many cancers. Consequently, immunotherapies and targeted therapies have been added to the chemotherapy protocols. However, one of the presenters, Dr Coit, MD, FACS, was quick to point out that when immunotherapy and targeted therapies are used alone, neither therapy was effective.  Immunotherapies sometimes afford a dramatic effect immediately, but unfortunately these results are unsustainable.   They take the brakes off the immune system so it can fight the cancer, but the effects don’t last.  Targeted therapies are then introduced to focus on specific gene mutations that are present in the cancer cells.  Ideally, according to Dr Coit, immunotherapy and targeted therapies should be used together, but that the two together at the same time would be too toxic to the patient.   Therefore most often they are used consecutively, rather than at the same time. Elyn Jacobs

Dr Schachter also challenged the excessive use of CT and PET scans.  I have often wondered why doctors order such scans so freely when it is no secret that they contribute to more cancer. Dr. Schachter pointed out that the radiation from one CT scan was equivalent to about 100 chest x-rays while the radiation from a PET scan was equivalent to 500 chest x-rays and the two together were equivalent to about 600 chest x-rays. Cancer patients are often asked to do these studies every few months, which exposes their already fragile bodies to a huge amount of diagnostic radiation. Dr. Schachter emphasized that radiation is carcinogenic and weakens the cancer patients already weakened immune system. Although these imaging studies are believed by conventional oncologists to help assess the cancer patient’s status and help to determine whether or not a particular treatment is working, there is little evidence that they really contribute to improving the survival time or the quality of life of the cancer patient.

A patient’s clinical status can often be assessed by careful physical examinations, careful questioning of the patient with regard to symptoms and sense of well-being and a whole barrage of blood tests to assess the patient’s blood count, liver and kidney functions, inflammatory markers, blood sugar levels and cancer markers. Clinically, this approach may be quite helpful and can be done without risk to the patient.

We discussed clinical trials and that usually it is only those conducting the trials who benefit—not the patients themselves; another downside is that often the patient is told that in order to participate in the clinical trial, he/she must cease any alternative treatments that are being done. It seems to Dr. Schachter that the people conducting clinical trials seem to be more interested in the clinical trial than in the welfare of the patient.

Dr Schachter presented some thoughtful questions to ask one’s doctor:

  • What is the likelihood my survival time will be increased?  (In Dr. Schachter’s opinion, this question is more important than a question about the likelihood of a clinical response. The clinical response, which is defined by the shrinkage of a tumor is not so important because it is often not associated with either an increase in survival time or improvement in quality of life.)
  • What is the likelihood that my quality of life will be improved?
  • What are the risks associated with the treatment with regard to morbidity (adverse effects from the treatment), mortality and the risks of developing another cancer?

To read the summary of Part II, Click Here

Replay Part I and II via the following links:

Dr Michael Schachter: Searching for Answers for Cancer Patients, Part I

December 10th, 2013–  http://hipcast.com/podcast/H1tlrkJs

Dr Michael Schachter: Searching for Answers for Cancer Patients, Part II

January 21st, 2014–  http://hipcast.com/podcast/HZ2hF9js

Join us Tuesday February 11th for Part III of this series.

Elyn

             ~~If you don’t know your options, you don’t have any~~

 MEDICAL DISCLAIMER:  Reading the information in this post does not constitute a physician-patient relationship. The information included in this post is for educational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always consult with your healthcare provider regarding a medical condition or any treatments.

Dr. Michael B. Schachter is a magna cum laude graduate of Columbia College and Columbia P&S Medical School in NYC. He is also a Board Certified Psychiatrist and a Certified Nutrition Specialist. Dr. Schachter has been involved with nutritional and integrative health care for 35 years. A leader in alternative cancer therapies, EDTA chelation and orthomolecular psychiatry, he is a past president of the American College of Advancement in Medicine (ACAM). He has authored numerous articles and was a major contributor to the large chapter about him in Burton Goldberg’s classic “Alternative Medicine Definitive Guide to Cancer”. His published 2010 paper “Integrative Oncology for Clinicians and Cancer Patients” helps to guide patients in developing a cancer treatment program. His latest article published in 2013 entitled “Integrating Nutrition and Selected Controversial Nutritional Supplements into a Cancer Treatment” is an abridged and updated version of his 2010 article. In 2010, Dr. Schachter received the Humanitarian Award from the Cancer Control Society in California. He has a special interest in the role of iodine in health and disease. Dr. Schachter is the director of the Schachter Center for Complementary Medicine in Suffern, NY.

 More information about Dr. Schachter and the Center are available at the website:  www.schachtercenter.com.  Many articles by Dr Schachter can be accessed from this site, including the two articles mentioned above

  Elyn Jacobs is a breast cancer survivor, professional cancer strategist, speaker, and the Executive Director for the Emerald Heart Cancer Foundation. Elyn empowers women to choose the path for treatment that best fits their own individual needs. She is passionate about helping others move forward into a life of health and well-being. Elyn has been featured on CNN Money, Talk About Health, and Breast Cancer Answers and has written for the Pink Paper, Breast Cancer Wellness, Integrative Oncology Essentials, Surviving Beautifully, Body Local and more, and writes the Options for Life column for the Natural Healing-Natural Wellness Newsletter.  Elyn hosts the Survive and Live Well Radio Show on the Cancer Support Network. Elyn lives in New York with her husband and two young boys. https://elynjacobs.wordpress.com/about/

Follow Elyn on Linkedin

Replay the Survive and Live Well Radio Show archives

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Searching for Answers for Cancer Patients, Part II

In Uncategorized on February 3, 2014 at 1:02 pm

Searching for Answers for Cancer Patients is a three-part discussion starting with a critique of the current standard of care, all the way to the latest therapies that alternative medicine has to offer.  In part I, Dr Schachter presented a critical analysis of current conventional cancer standard of care practices. In part two, Dr Schachter discussed his concerns about integrative oncology and its tendency to accept conventional treatment as a given, critiqued various diets for cancer patients, and discussed what he believes to be important areas for the cancer clinician and the cancer patient to consider as part of a total program. (Note that although Dr. Schachter discusses integrative oncology in the part 2 radio program, this discussion is included in the written summary of Part I, as the topic seemed more relevant to his discussion about conventional oncology, which was discussed in Part I.)

There are many different opinions on the best diet for cancer patients, but actually there is no one diet that works for all.  Every cancer is different and every individual is different and has his or her own needs. However, there are some general principles to which most alternative practitioners and nutritionally oriented clinicians agree.  These principles are not shared by most oncologists, who have little training or knowledge about nutrition as it relates to cancer patients.

  • Eliminate processed, refined foods which contain refined sugars and carbohydrates as much as possible
  • Eliminate hydrogenated fats that contain trans fatty acids (labels should be checked carefully)
  • Eat whole foods that are not genetically modified and use organic foods as much as possible
  • Avoid foods containing artificial sweeteners, preservatives, pesticides and other chemicals
  • Drink water free of chlorine, fluoride and other chemicals
  • Diets should contain a wide variety of vegetables of different colors and textures.

Where there is considerable disagreement is what the relative amounts of carbohydrates, fats and proteins in the diet should be.

While Dr Schachter had previously suggested that the ketogenic diet, which consists of a diet very low in carbohydrates, moderate in protein and high in healthy fats, may be beneficial for most cancer patients, he has not seen a lot of evidence to maintain this recommendation.  For example, Dr. Thomas Seyfried, a strong advocate for the ketogenic diet for all cancer patients, has only 2 case histories in his recently published book “Cancer as a Metabolic Disease”, and these 2 case histories are not that convincing in Dr. Schachter’s opinion. The diet tends to ignore issues related to the importance of carbohydrates and their possible role in helping the body to fight cancer. Glycoproteins are proteins that contain carbohydrates and roughly 50% of the proteins in our body are glycoproteins. These glycoproteins are very important with regard to the immune system and the body’s ability to fight cancers. By focusing on a ketogenic diet, which emphasizes fats and proteins, Dr. Schachter is concerned that the importance of high quality carbohydrates is being ignored. He mentioned that there were reported long-term survivors with stage 4 cancers that were not on a ketogenic diet, and have thrived quite well using the Gerson, Kelly and other diets, which contain more carbohydrates than recommended in ketogenic diets.  However, he does suggest that cancer patients on the ketogenic diet will generally do much better than those on the Standard American Diet (SAD).

tip steaksWhile a low fat-high grain diet was once thought to be beneficial, that notion seems to be fading fast, as evidenced by Dr David Perlmutter’s book “Grain Brain”, which has been on the NY Times Best Seller list since being released in September 2013.  Dr. Perlmutter’s thesis is that diets that are high in carbohydrates and foods containing gluten predispose to the development of Alzheimer’s disease and other degenerative diseases, including cancer. Using many studies from peer-reviewed medical journals, Dr. Perlmutter explains how diets high in carbohydrates tend to increase blood sugar, which leads to the glycation of proteins (sugar combining with proteins in the body). This process tends to increase inflammation and the formation of free radicals, all of which contributes to the formation of degenerative diseases, including cancer. This book would be a good read for cancer patients as it explains how the high fat diet may turn out to be helpful for cancer patients as well as patients with other degenerative diseases. As mentioned previously, Dr Schachter suggests that it is best to concentrate on a whole foods diet, reducing or eliminating refined and processed foods, including foods containing added sugar and white flour and that one should eat many vegetables (including at least some raw vegetables and fresh vegetable juices), include some low sugar fruits, high quality organic eggs and other high quality animal products with an emphasis on grass fed animals.

Moving on we got into what other strategies cancer patients should be focusing on, Dr Schachter suggested we get a good dose of intelligent sun exposure to sunlight directly on skin without it being blocked by sunscreen. The problem here is that for many of us, especially those living in northern latitudes in the USA (e.g. New York, Boston, Chicago areas), we make vitamin D when exposed to sunlight only 6 months of the year. We do not make any vitamin D from November to May. So, we have to rely on other sources of vitamin D, such as supplements.

D3Ingestion of fat-soluble vitamins (especially vitamins D, K2 and A) should be considered in the prevention and management of cancer. In his view, this extremely important area is totally ignored by conventional physicians and mostly ignored by practitioners doing integrative oncology. However, fat soluble vitamins have the potential for being toxic and must be taken with knowledge and clinical monitoring. Dr. Schachter believes that optimal serum levels of vitamin D status, as measured by the blood serum test for 25 hydroxy vitamin D [abbreviated 25(OH)D], constitutes one of the most important factors in keeping one healthy and protecting against the development of cancer. He further believes that levels of this  test recommended by the Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine (above 20 to 30 nanograms/deciliter or 50 to 75 nanomoles/Liter) are entirely too low for optimal health. Furthermore, he believes that the recommended daily intake of 600 IU of vitamin D3 is also much too low for optimal health. These view are supported by many physicians and scientists who are members of the Vitamin D Council (www.vitamindcouncil.org).

Fat soluble vitamins, such as vitamins K2, A and E, all work synergistically for optimal health and are necessary for optimal use of Vitamin D. Dr. Schachter dispelled the confusion regarding vitamin K.  K1 is what is found in green leafy vegetables; it primarily activates enzymes involved in blood clotting.  Vitamin K2 functions mainly to activate enzymes that move calcium around the body into the bone (osteocalcin) and out of the arteries and joints (matrix GLA). K2 is essential if one is taking high doses of D3, which increases calcium in the body. In addition to these functions, vitamin K2, according to some preliminary studies plays a role as an anti-cancer nutrient as well. Preliminary studies indicate that it does this by activating another set of enzymes in the body. Dr Schachter also advises other supplements that supply high quality minerals in a balanced form that promotes healing.

Iodine may be needed in individualized dose to improve thyroid function, immune function and the optimal functioning of all the cells in the body; several associated nutrients need to be given including vitamin C, selenium, magnesium, unrefined salt, and sufficient water; these help to prevent strong detoxification reactions as a result of the release of bromine from the tissues when iodine is given in milligram quantities. These higher milligram doses rather than microgram doses help to enhance anti-cancer functions in most if not all cancers, but certainly in cancers of the thyroid, breast, ovary and prostate. Dr. Schachter says that some of the most famous alternative cancer specialists like Dr. Max Gerson, who used Lugol’s solution and Harry Hoxsey, who used potassium iodide, believed that milligram doses of iodine/iodide were crucial to their anti-cancer programs. Dr Schachter said that in testing his patients using a random urine iodine test, iodine is deficient or at least suboptimal in most cancer patients.

He reminded us to avoid exposure to toxic substances, including toxic minerals like lead, mercury and cadmium, but also organic toxins like pesticides. Detoxification to help remove toxic substances from the body with the use of chelation, saunas, exercise and possibly even coffee enemas and other procedures that help with detoxification.

The main thing is to work out a program where all the elements work as a team to prevent and/or manage cancer with the patient not being overwhelmed by the program.

Join us Tuesday February 11th for Part III of this series. For the written summary of Part I Click Here

In part III we will talk about why vitamin D affects so many symptoms and systems in the body, Brian Schaefer’s new book on Salvestrols, and ways of improving the results of conventional cancer treatment as discussed in Ralph Moss’ book “Customized Cancer Treatment”.  

Replay Part I and II via the following links or via iHeart RadioTalk under the heading Spreakers.

Dr Michael Schachter: Searching for Answers for Cancer Patients, Part I

December 10th, 2013–  http://hipcast.com/podcast/H1tlrkJs

Dr Michael Schachter: Searching for Answers for Cancer Patients, Part II

January 21st, 2014–  http://hipcast.com/podcast/HZ2hF9js

Elyn

             ~~If you don’t know your options, you don’t have any~~

 MEDICAL DISCLAIMER:  Reading the information in this post does not constitute a physician-patient relationship. The information included in this post is for educational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always consult with your healthcare provider regarding a medical condition or any treatments.

Dr. Michael B. Schachter is a magna cum laude graduate of Columbia College and Columbia P&S Medical School in NYC. He is also a Board Certified Psychiatrist and a Certified Nutrition Specialist. Dr. Schachter has been involved with nutritional and integrative health care for 35 years. A leader in alternative cancer therapies, EDTA chelation and orthomolecular psychiatry, he is a past president of the American College of Advancement in Medicine (ACAM). He has authored numerous articles and was a major contributor to the large chapter about him in Burton Goldberg’s classic “Alternative Medicine Definitive Guide to Cancer”. His published 2010 paper “Integrative Oncology for Clinicians and Cancer Patients” helps to guide patients in developing a cancer treatment program. His latest article published in 2013 entitled “Integrating Nutrition and Selected Controversial Nutritional Supplements into a Cancer Treatment” is an abridged and updated version of his 2010 article. In 2010, Dr. Schachter received the Humanitarian Award from the Cancer Control Society in California. He has a special interest in the role of iodine in health and disease. Dr. Schachter is the director of the Schachter Center for Complementary Medicine in Suffern, NY.

 More information about Dr. Schachter and the Center are available at the website:  www.schachtercenter.com.  Many articles by Dr Schachter can be accessed from this site, including the two articles mentioned above.

 Elyn Jacobs is a breast cancer survivor, professional cancer strategist, speaker, and the Executive Director for the Emerald Heart Cancer Foundation. Elyn empowers women to choose the path for treatment that best fits their own individual needs. She is passionate about helping others move forward into a life of health and well-being. Elyn has been featured on CNN Money, Talk About Health, and Breast Cancer Answers and has written for the Pink Paper, Breast Cancer Wellness, Integrative Oncology Essentials, Surviving Beautifully, Body Local and more, and writes the Options for Life column for the Natural Healing-Natural Wellness Newsletter.  Elyn hosts the Survive and Live Well Radio Show on the Cancer Support Network. Elyn lives in New York with her husband and two young boys. https://elynjacobs.wordpress.com/about/

Follow Elyn on Linkedin

Replay the Survive and Live Well Radio Show archives

Follow Elyn on Facebook

Follow Survive and Live Well on Twitter