Cancer is a frightening and sometimes devastating diagnosis. It is estimated that one out of every two people will get cancer at some point in their lives. While there are many different kinds of cancer, most researchers feel that there are common underlying causes. Inflammation and oxidative stress are common cellular stressors linked to cancer, and these problems are caused by many of the known cancer risk factors. Our body harbors many cancer cells every day, and by the time a tumor shows up on a traditional X-Ray, mammogram, or scan, it may have been there for 10 years. The main defense we have against cancer cells becoming a tumor and growing and spreading is our immune system. In fact, cancer has been called a failure of the immune system.
Therefore it makes sense that anything that is bad for the immune system increases your risk for cancer, and anything that is good for the immune system helps protect you from cancer. At Optimal Health Spectrums we have tests to measure oxidative stress, inflammation, the strength of your immune system, and much more, which will show if you have underlying factors that could increase your risk for cancer. Fortunately, there are healthy Integrative medicine treatment interventions for every abnormal test result. These treatments can be used for cancer prevention or as an adjunctive treatment for cancer. Almost any treatment that is good for preventing cancer is also good if you already have cancer, as an aid in your recovery and to help prevent a relapse.
Things that are bad for the immune system and have been linked to an increased risk for cancer include: chronic stress, emotional distress, lack of sleep, shift work, chronic underlying infections (such as viral infections or Lyme disease), exposure to toxins(such as heavy metals, chemicals, and, ironically, chemotherapy), exposure to radiation (such as X-rays, mammograms, CT scans, and, again ironically, radiation therapy), possibly EMF (from cell phones, Wi-Fi and electronics), lack of critical nutrients, lack of bioidentical hormones, obesity, excessive sugar or carbohydrate intake, lack of exercise, and more. So, as you can see, there are many steps that people can take to help protect them from cancer. Especially people with a strong family history of cancer should be taking preventive steps. You are not just a helpless victim. We are here to help you protect yourself.
We know that one of the primary causes of cancer is toxins in our environment. There are strong genetic differences between people in how well they detoxify, so while we all may be exposed, some are better able to excrete the toxins, while some just accumulate them. We can test your DNA to find out what kind of “detoxifier” you are. There are many who are exposed to toxins at their work, or who eat toxic (conventionally grown pesticide-laden) food, or use toxic skin products, or who smoke, or who are just unlucky and unknowingly get exposed to toxins. Heavy metals (lead, mercury, etc.) and chemicals (PCBs, pesticides, etc.) weaken the immune system and poison the mitochondria which are our cellular energy factories. We can do tests to find out what your “body burden” of toxins is. If you are toxic with heavy metals or chemicals, we can design a detox protocol that may include Chelation or FAR-IR sauna therapy and more, to help rid your body of the damaging metals and chemicals. We can also help you learn how to prevent further exposure to unwanted toxins in your life.
Even how our bodies metabolize hormones is partially genetic, and influenced by our nutrient status. Some hormone metabolites are more pro-carcinogenic, while some are strongly anti-carcinogenic, so we want to make sure through proper testing that our patients are more heavily on the anti-carcinogenic side. We can do genetic tests that show how your body metabolizes your hormones. Depending on your results, you may need more of certain nutrients to compensate for a genetic weakness. We can also do tests to assess your nutritional status to find out exactly what supplements you may need to bolster your immune system. We can find out if you are eating foods that are causing inflammation in your body. We can also test for and treat chronic problems in the gastrointestinal tract, which some estimate may house up to 70% of the immune system and is therefore critical for your health.
There are many nutrients that can be taken orally that have anti-cancer data behind them – such as Vitamins D, Curcumin, Resveratrol, MSM, enzymes, green tea, iodine, fermented soy, mushrooms, garlic, cruciferous vegetables – and many more. It is important to know which ones to take, and how much. We can also do IV therapies that can dramatically improve your immune system, such as high dose IV Vitamin C, and other IV nutrients such as glutathione, vitamins and minerals to make you healthier. Even a few safe medications have been found to be helpful in preventing cancer.
Balancing your natural human bioidentical hormones improves your immune system and quality of life, and can help prevent cancer. For example, a recent study showed that women who took estrogen after menopause actually had a decreased risk of breast cancer. Progesterone has anti-cancer properties. Melatonin not only helps you sleep, but helps to prevent cancer. There are certain circumstances with cancer, however, where it may not be a good idea to take hormones.
Recently, research has been focusing on the metabolism of cancer cells and has found that cancer cells can only survive when using glucose as fuel, whereas the rest of the cells in our body can survive on glucose or ketones. Ketones are produced when you eat a very low carb diet and your body is burning fat. A recent study on animals found that a combination of a ketogenic diet and hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) – also available at Optimal Health Spectrums – was very effective at extending the life of the animals that had metastatic cancer. Intermittent fasting has also been found to be useful. We can assist you in finding the right dietary approach for you. HBOT is a useful adjunctive therapy, since research shows that tumors are somewhat hypoxic (low in oxygen) and HBOT forces oxygen into your cells and improves detox and mitochondrial and immune function. Achieving an optimal body weight is important for preventing cancer, since the high insulin associated with weight gain, insulin resistance, and metabolic syndrome is a pro-carcinogenic state. We can assist you in weight loss to decrease this risk factor.
There are several interesting new tests that can be done to show who is at risk for cancer, beyond the usual cancer markers done through blood testing such as CA125, CEA, PSA, and others. One of these new tests assesses the presence of an enzyme in the blood that is secreted by viruses and many cancers. This substance weakens and impairs the immune system so that it cannot fight the virus or cancer, thus allowing it to spread. If this enzyme is detected in elevated amounts on the blood test (offered at our clinic) it can show the possible presence of a viral infection or cancer, sometimes long before it will show up on other tests, while it is still early and more treatable. If the enzyme is high, then the immune system is being handicapped by its presence, and a special treatment to bring it down may help to improve the immune system’s ability to fight off the virus or cancer. Another new blood test detects a substance that is associated with inflammation and fibrosis, and it allows cancer cells to form tumors and metastasize. If it is high, there is a unique nutrient that can bring it down and improve your odds. While some patients may be afraid to do tests such as these to find out if they are high, we believe that information is power, and that finding out so that you can do something about it is much better than being ignorant until it is too late. Everyone knows that cancer is much easier to treat if it is found early, but even if it has already taken hold, adding these healthful complementary treatments could enhance your treatment success.
While we are not an oncology clinic, our goal is to help our patients who have cancer to become so healthy that cancer hopefully cannot exist in their bodies anymore, and to help our patients who want to prevent cancer to do so. While we can never make any guarantees about an illness as complex as cancer, the Integrative medicine therapies offered at Optimal Health Spectrums can be very helpful before or after your cancer diagnosis, and can be used adjunctively with other more traditional cancer therapies to improve your outcome.