Nutrients can improve cancer treatment by:
- protecting the patient from the damaging effects of chemotherapy and radiation while allowing these therapies to kill the tumor
- bolstering host defense mechanisms, like the immune system
Every year 1.6 million Americans will be newly diagnosed with cancer. 40% of Americans living today will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime. Unfortunately, the 13,000 oncologists in the USA labor under the misconception that nutrition supplements will interfere with the effectiveness of chemo and radiation. The truth is the opposite: nutrients protect the patient while allowing the chemo and radiation to kill more cancer cells than healthy patient cells.
Cancer patients often feel like a child in a wicked divorce custody battle. The oncologist tells the patient “Don’t take that nutrition therapy. It is nothing more than expensive urine. And it will reduce the effectiveness of my chemo and radiation therapies.” The nutritionist tells the same patient “Don’t take that poisonous chemo or radiation therapy. It will do you no good.” In fact, when the oncologist and nutritionist work together, both are more successful at helping the cancer patient. Nutrients make medical therapy more toxic to the tumor and less toxic to the patient.
Properly nourished patients experience less nausea, malaise, immune suppression, hair loss, and organ toxicity than patients on routine oncology programs. Antioxidants like beta carotene, vitamin C, vitamin E, glutathione, and selenium appear to enhance the effectiveness of chemo, radiation, and hyperthermia, while minimizing damage to the patient’s normal cells; thus making therapy more of a “selective toxin.” An optimally-nourished cancer patient can better tolerate the rigors of cytotoxic therapy.
Charles Simone, MD has published a peer reviewed meta-analysis of the world’s literature on supplement use during chemo and radiation. Analyzing 50 clinical trials involving 8,500 cancer patients, nutrients were found to enhance outcome in cancer patients treated with chemo and radiation.
In a separate review of the world’s peer reviewed scientific literature, Keith Block, MD examined 33 studies involving 2,400 cancer patients and found that antioxidant supplements reduced the toxicity of the chemo allowing patients to complete their treatment cycles; and there was no reduction in tumor kill from the chemo.
Roots of Chemo
“All is fair in love and war.” Mustard gas (aka nerve gas) was used as a weapon in World War I. For even the horrors of war, mustard gas was deemed unethical. Mustard gas had profound effects on reducing bone marrow cells that develop into blood cells in soldiers exposed. Yet, from that basis, the field of chemotherapy developed.
It is puzzling why oncologists will readily prescribe a drug antioxidant (like Mesna) to reduce the toxicity of chemo and enhance outcome, yet balk at giving an even more safe and inexpensive nutrient antioxidant.
In many of my patients, using nutrition supplements while undergoing chemo and radiation has had a profound effect on improving patient quality of life and minimizing “collateral damage” to the patient’s body. Oncologists often prescribe chemo to the “therapeutic brink of death”, meaning the patient’s immune system is so compromised that death by infection is very possible. By using nutrition supplements in conjunction with chemo and radiation, tumor kill is unaffected while the patient’s immune system remains intact.
Free Radicals Vs. Antioxidants
Linus Pauling, PhD, earned one of his Nobel prizes in chemistry in the 1950s by discovering how atoms bond together to become molecules. Picture the sun with Earth, Saturn, and Mars among other planets orbiting around the sun. Atoms and molecules are a tiny rendition of our solar system. Electrons orbit the nucleus of an atom just like planets orbit around the sun in our solar system. Atoms bond together, such as hydrogen with oxygen to yield water, by sharing electrons, as if two suns came close together and shared planets or moons to keep in balance and to be complete.
Now imagine if a planet was missing from a solar system. There is an imbalance in forces that makes this solar system unstable. Free radicals, or pro-oxidants, are like unstable solar systems, because they lack a planet in their outer orbit. Free radicals will grab a planet from a nearby solar system to make that solar system now unstable. And on it goes in domino fashion, disrupting solar systems (or atoms and molecules) until tissue damage occurs and cancer or premature aging sets in. Though there are many variations of pro-oxidants and antioxidants, the theme is always the same: pro-oxidants can destroy tissue, while antioxidants can protect tissue. Humans generate pro-oxidants in our immune system to kill invaders, like cancer. We also generate pro-oxidants in the process of metabolizing our food…not only unavoidable, but essential functions. So free radicals are only bad if they are destroying tissue that needs to be spared.
Chemo and Radiation are Free Radicals
Oxygen, hydrogen peroxide (which we constantly create inside of our bodies as part of living), air pollution (ozone), tobacco smoke, most chemotherapy drugs, radiation therapy, and alcohol are among the more common and noteworthy free radicals in life. Chemo and radiation are free radicals that work by, hopefully, killing more cancer cells than healthy cells. We are constantly “rusting” from within, just like a nail rusts outside. We can slow down this rusting with antioxidants, such as vitamin C and lipoic acid, but we cannot stop it.
Basically, free radicals are electron (planet) thieves, and antioxidants, such as vitamin C, are electron donors. Antioxidants perform like a sacrificial warrior, giving up their life so that your tissue is not harmed. However, in an anaerobic environment, such as cancer, antioxidants can become pro-oxidants.
Modern medicine is based on a lie.
Dale Bredesen, MD,
author of bestselling book THE END OF ALZHEIMER’S
Researchers “assume” that antioxidant nutrients (such as coenzyme Q, glutathione, and vitamin E) will reduce the tumor kill rate from chemo and radiation. In simplistic chemistry, one might think this to be true. However, in test tubes (in vitro), in animals, and in human cancer patients, such is not the case. Since cancer is usually an oxygen-deprived tissue, or anaerobic cell, the cancer cell has very poor mechanisms for absorbing proper amounts of antioxidants. A cancer cell has no more use for antioxidants than a gopher needs sunglasses. The exception is vitamin C, which becomes a selective toxin against cancer without harming the patient.
Cancer cells are primarily anaerobic (meaning “without oxygen”) cells. With the exception of vitamin C, cancer cells do not absorb nor use antioxidants the same way that healthy aerobic cells do. Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is nearly identical in chemical structure to glucose, which is the favored fuel for cancer cells. When researchers found that radioactively labeled ascorbic acid was preferentially absorbed by implanted tumors in animals, they admitted that this effect takes place because cancer has many more glucose receptors on the cell surface than healthy normal cells. The vitamin C is gulped by the cancer cells, then becomes toxic because cancer cells cannot generate catalase to protect themselves against the hydrogen peroxide generated by vitamin C. We will cover intravenous vitamin C in a separate newsletter.
Make Chemo and Radiation More Effective
In summary, aggressive nutrition therapy can make medical therapy more effective against the cancer while protecting the patient from the devastating effects of “collateral damage”.