Make nutrition your first defense against cancer
Adapted from the Heart, Health & Nutrition newsletter by Stephen Sinatra, MD
According to Dr. Sinatra
“At a recent cancer conference, the author was on the speaker’s program along with Dr. Patrick Quillin, one of the world’s top experts on nutrition and cancer. For many years, Dr. Quillin was the director of nutrition for the Cancer Treatment Centers of America, a group of four medical centers across the United that integrate the best conventional and complementary therapies in their treatments.”
In his talk, Dr. Quillin mentioned that most of the country’s 10,000 oncologists still don’t understand the beneficial role of nutrition in cancer treatment. Eight million patients suffer as a result, he said.
Afterward, Dr. Sinatra talked at length with Dr. Quillin and learned more about his experience in applying nutrition against cancer. Both are solidly on the same page as far as dealing with cancer is concerned. They both see it as a fight against an insidious enemy that requires each individual to be a smart and strong self-advocate.
In this battle, there are no magic knockout drugs or nutrients; however, a well-nourished body and a healthy diet and supplement program are powerful deterrents.
Generally speaking, a well-nourished body can activate protective and self-repair mechanisms that identify and destroy abnormal cells. People whose bodies are poorly nourished lack the nutrients to keep this process functioning efficiently, which makes them more vulnerable to disease.
Just as good nutrition can make you less vulnerable to cancer; it can also work to your advantage if you develop the disease. Well-nourished patients have a better chance of survival and a higher quality of life after remission. They are also less prone to the “wasting away” commonly associated with cancer, and have a greater ability to withstand the toxicity of conventional treatments.
Nutrients can aid chemotherapy
Both doctors agree that there is an unfortunate and widespread misconception among oncologists that supplements reduce the effectiveness of chemotherapy and radiation. This is simply not true. Hundreds of studies have shown that specific nutrients can help chemotherapy and radiation treatments eliminate cancer and cause less damage to the healthy surrounding tissue.
For example, the drug cisplatin-which is used to treat testicular, bladder, lung, stomach, and ovarian cancers-often damages nerve tissue, causing numbness and pain. Studies show that patients who take oral vitamin E (400 IV daily) are less likely to develop this problem.
So what can you do from a nutritional perspective to reduce your odds of developing cancer?
Dr. Sinatra believes that first and foremost, cut sugar out of your diet. You can take all the vitamins and supplements in the world, but they won’t protect you if you eat a diet filled with refined carbohydrates and sugar.
Why? Cancer cells feed almost exclusively on glucose (the sugar in the blood that is broken down from carbohydrates). When you cut down on the sweet stuff, you deny cancer its basic nourishment. If that’s not motivation enough, consider this: A person who eats the typical American diet consumes 140 pounds of sugar a year. In relation to cancer, that’s like throwing gasoline on a smoldering fire.
Second, identify which nutrients you are in need of-especially if you’ve been diagnosed with cancer. Those nutrients can have a powerful restorative effect on failing protective and repair mechanisms in the body, and even help reverse cancer.
In his book Beating Cancer with Nutrition, Dr. Quillin lists more than 200 specific vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, glandulars, probiotics, herbs, and plant extracts that can give patients a powerful boost in their recovery battle. Sinatra highly recommends the book, which is available through book retailers, including www.amazon.com.
Another important resource on new approaches to cancer is integrative medicine expert Burton Goldberg’s DVD, Cancer Conquest (Custom Flix, 2006). He created a two-hour documentary that is full of great insights from cutting-edge cancer experts. It features the newest approaches to cancer that Goldberg has discovered since writing his 1,000-page Alternative Medicine Definitive Guide to Cancer (Alternativemedicine.com Books, 1997). You can buy a copy of this documentary from his Web site, www.burtongoldberg.com.
The Best Supplements for Fighting Cancer
The docs also discussed some of the most effective “newer” supplements in the cancer battle, all of which are available in health food stores. Here’s a rundown:
This active -compound in the Indian curry spice turmeric has anti-tumor, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties. It can slow tumor growth, according to laboratory research. Our advice is to eat abundant amounts of curry or supplement with about 500 mg of curcumin a day.
This compound, found in dark colored berries, promotes apoptosis, the preprogrammed death of abnormal cells that can lead to cancer. we recommend 250 mg of ellagic acid daily.
This favorite blood-thinning and anti-inflammatory cardiology supplement is also beneficial against cancer. In laboratory studies, fish oil has been shown to slow the rate at which cancer spreads. In one study with terminally ill patients, 6 grams of fish oil daily resulted in a major improvement in immune function and length of survival.
He also recommends 1 to 2 grams a day for good health, and 2 to 4 grams a day for heart patients. Fish liver oil also contains vitamins A and D, anticancer nutrients on their own. This is definitely powerful medicine.
There are a number of extracts with significant anti-tumor properties and the ability to enhance appetite, reduce the amount of cancer drugs needed, and reduce the toxicity of chemotherapy. Among them are maitake, shitake, reishi, and a blend of extracts in supplement form called AHCC (active hexose correlated compounds).
Dr. Quillin’s book reviews these substances and their individual usages. One of the powerful ingredients in mushrooms is 1-3 beta glucan. As a supplement, 1-3 beta glucan is an extraordinary immune booster.
Research conducted on 2,000 Chinese women found that regular consumption of fresh button mushrooms (the kinds found in your local produce department) substantially (80% less than US average) reduced the rate of breast cancer. These women also consumed green tea on a regular basis.
These supplements reinforce the gut’s critical bacterial flora. The so-called “good bacteria” are major elements in the immune system. They neutralize pro-carcinogenic substances, fight off pathogens, and protect the vital digestive process that converts food into the nutrients required to run the body. Studies show that probiotics can lessen the side effects of chemotherapy and radiation.
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