The so-called War on Cancer has taught us a lot about this disease. We have learned how different genes mutate and drive cancer; how tumor genomes continue to mutate to evade treatment; and how the immune system often gets turned off, ignoring malignant cells. Unfortunately, though there have been some successes, we have not yet learned how to cure cancer.
There are many reasons for this. Cancer in all its different permutations presents a moving target, changing over time, unique from patient to patient and changing in each person as the disease evolves. It’s a complex picture, but not one without possibility of success in prevention, or of improving treatment outcomes when we participate in the process.
I was reminded of these issues recently when I spoke at Annie Appleseed Project’s 10th Annual Complementary & Alternative Therapies Conference. Annie Appleseed Project has the critical mission of questioning the medical establishment’s narrow cancer therapy dogma and offering complementary approaches to help people prevent, treat and survive cancer.
The conference was held in West Palm Beach, from February 25 to 27, and was a lively participatory event with a wide range of topics including developing an anticancer diet and lifestyle, use of anticancer medicinal herbs, and use of medical cannabis. In addition, there were presentations on yoga, homeopathy, fitness, and emotional and spiritual support weaved artfully amongst the more technical presentations in a wonderfully full program.
One of the conference’s themes was attacking the underlying factors that contribute to cancer development, growth and metastasis. I spoke about three related subjects: growth factors, inflammation and detoxification.
Understanding growth factors is critically important to our understanding of what drives the development of cancer. Cells exist in unique microenvironments and are constantly talking to each other. When new cells are needed, to heal a wound for example, growth factors are secreted to encourage neighboring cells to divide and fill the void. This is a normal process. However, growth factors can become “upregulated” in cancer cells and in the surrounding tissue, fueled by mutations and importantly, inflammation. Chronic inflammation is now being recognized as one of the pivotal underpinnings of abnormal cell growth and communication.
Toxins, including heavy metals, pesticides, etc. are another piece of the puzzle, problematic because they tend to spur inflammation and have hormone disrupting effects as well, often stimulating growth promoting estrogens in both men and women.
Botanicals and detoxification
So how do we respond to these factors? First, there are a number of botanicals and bioactive compounds derived from plants that have been shown to modulate cancer growth and invasion, such as modified citrus pectin, quercetin, turmeric, honokiol, DIM and others. In addition, medicinal mushrooms modulate the immune system, helping it respond better to cancer and other threats.
In my talk I emphasized the importance of addressing chronic inflammation and toxic burden as part of an integrative approach to prevention and treatment. I recommend modified citrus pectin to address both issues. MCP is known for its ability to bind to heavy metals and other toxins and remove them from the body. MCP also has an affinity for galectin-3, an inflammatory protein that has been shown in numerous studies to be an instigator and driver of cancer progression as well as other major diseases including kidney, liver and cardiovascular disease.
Conferences like Annie Appleseed Project’s provide a wonderful forum to share information and discuss integrative approaches. Both presenters and attendees have much to offer each other, with a wealth of knowledge and experience being shared.
My approach at Amitabha Medical Clinic has always been to integrate treatments and practices from all modalities, taking the best of ancient wisdom and modern science to support health and well-being. What the conference participants have learned, and what I have seen in my own clinical practice is that this approach gives all of us the best chance for prevention as well as successful outcomes if we are faced with a cancer diagnosis.