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How is Sleep Linked to Cancer? August 27, 2015

Posted by Dreamhealer in Cancer, Chemotherapy, Sleep.
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Written By: Dr. Adam McLeod, ND, BSc

Everyone knows the importance of a good nights sleep. It is no secret that your physical and mental health is negatively impacted when you do not get adequate sleep. Is lack of sleep actually linked to the formation of cancer? The short answer is yes and the reasons are obvious when you take a closer look at the science of sleep.

The circadian rhythm is a natural cycle in our brains that tells our cells whether it is day or night. This is a biological process that is present in virtually all forms of life and it helps to synchronize our biochemistry with the position of the sun. This internal clock obviously would be of great importance to our ancestors, however with our modern lifestyle we have become disconnected from the sun. There is a growing body of evidence that shows a link between disruptions in the circadian rhythm and the formation of cancer. In fact, some studies suggest that a circadian rhythm in chaos is a signal for a high risk of breast cancer even in the absence of mammographic evidence of neoplasm1.

People who work irregular shifts will naturally have disrupted circadian rhythms3,4. The reason is obvious; in what natural environment would anyone work at such irregular times and disregard their own internal clock. The effect is so dramatic that some researchers have called for shift work to be labeled a carcinogen2. It is also interesting to note that individuals who have mutations in genes related to this cycle have an increased risk of developing cancer6. The bottom line is that if your natural circadian rhythm is disrupted then you are more likely to develop cancer3,5.

What can be done to restore the health of your circadian rhythm? There are several key molecules that directly influence this delicate rhythm. Perhaps the best documented molecule is melatonin8,9. Melatonin is responsible for the generation of at least 40% of the amplitude of the circadian core body temperature rhythm7. Manipulation of melatonin levels are clinically useful to resynchronize the circadian rhythm under conditions of rhythm desynchronization. In other words, melatonin helps to restore the circadian rhythm when it has become disrupted.

Everyone has heard about melatonin and how it can be used to promote restful sleep. Melatonin is a critical component of the circadian rhythm, and it is one of the molecular signals that tells our cells whether it is day or night. I have seen countless times where cancer patients were prescribed melatonin by another Naturopathic doctor, but the patient discontinued it because they thought their sleep was fine. This suggests a misunderstanding between the patient and some of my colleagues regarding the reason for prescribing melatonin in the context of cancer. Whether the patient is sleeping well or not is secondary. They should be taking this supplement because of melatonin’s potent anti-cancer properties.

Melatonin triggers cell death in cancerous cells and it has several properties that make it useful as an adjunctive cancer therapy10,11,12. The conclusion from a paper in the prestigious journal “Cancer Research” stated that:

“Physiologic and pharmacologic concentrations of the pineal hormone melatonin have shown chemopreventive, oncostatic, and tumour inhibitory effects in a variety of in vitro and in vivo experimental models of neoplasia. Multiple mechanisms have been suggested for the biological effects of melatonin. Not only does melatonin seem to control development alone but also has the potential to increase the efficacy and decrease the side effects of chemotherapy when used in adjuvant settings.”

The use of melatonin is particularly indicated in cases of estrogen positive breast cancer. For those who are taking tamoxifen or letrozole as a long-term therapy, it is helpful to add melatonin into the treatment plan. The cancer prevention properties of melatonin appear to be mediated through the estrogen response pathway18.

When used appropriately, melatonin not only decreases side effects from chemotherapy, it also significantly enhances its effectiveness. In one randomized study, lung cancer patients were treated with chemotherapy alone or chemotherapy with melatonin. The melatonin group lived significantly longer with a reduced side effect profile14. This is just one example of many clinical trials. Melatonin can be used during chemotherapy or radiation, and the antioxidant effect is considered supportive of these conventional therapies15.

In my experience, the high doses of melatonin (20mg) are well tolerated when they are used properly. The most common complaint that I hear from patients is that they feel groggy the next morning. Upon further questioning, it becomes clear that they did not use the melatonin correctly. You must take it before bed; but after you take the melatonin, you must avoid light! This means no television, no iPads and no reading.

When light touches your eyes, it inhibits the activity of melatonin. This makes sense considering how connected melatonin is to the circadian rhythm. Think about it for a second. A thousand years ago when our ancestors went to sleep, they would not have encountered light again until the sun rose. When you are exposed to light after taking melatonin, it sends mixed messages to your brain and disrupts the circadian cycle. This often results in a sensation of grogginess the next morning. It is critical that after you take melatonin, you immediately go into a dark room and sleep.

One other interesting note about melatonin is how its metabolic effects are easily disrupted by magnetic fields13. The clinical significance of this disruption is unclear, but this is not surprising given how delicate the circadian rhythm is. What is also interesting is that magnetic fields appear to disrupt the positive benefit from tamoxifen as well16. This does not mean that everyone should panic and avoid all sources of magnetic fields since this is virtually impossible to do in modern day society. The threshold for this inhibitory effect is not well established, however, it is worthwhile to point out this interaction. Perhaps people wanting to prevent cancer should reduce their exposure to excessive magnetic fields when possible17.

Melatonin certainly can be helpful in an integrative cancer setting but you must have professional guidance when developing a cancer treatment plan. A Naturopathic Doctor can help you to develop a safe and effective treatment plan. Dr. Adam McLeod is a Naturopathic Doctor (ND), BSc. (Hon) Molecular biology, Motivational Speaker and International Best Selling Author. He currently practices at his clinic in Vancouver, British Columbia where he focuses on integrative oncology.http://www.yaletownnaturopathic.com

References:
1) Keith, Louis G., Jaroslaw J. Oleszczuk, and Martin Laguens. “Circadian rhythm chaos: a new breast cancer marker.” International journal of fertility and women’s medicine 46.5 (2000): 238-247.

2) Stevens, Richard G. “Light-at-night, circadian disruption and breast cancer: assessment of existing evidence.” International journal of epidemiology 38.4 (2009): 963-970.

3) Megdal, Sarah P., et al. “Night work and breast cancer risk: a systematic review and meta-analysis.” European Journal of Cancer 41.13 (2005): 2023-2032.

4) Hansen, Johnni. “Risk of breast cancer after night-and shift work: current evidence and ongoing studies in Denmark.” Cancer Causes & Control 17.4 (2006): 531-537.

5) Hansen, Johnni. “Increased breast cancer risk among women who work predominantly at night.” Epidemiology 12.1 (2001): 74-77.

6) Zhu, Yong, et al. “Non-synonymous polymorphisms in the circadian gene NPAS2 and breast cancer risk.” Breast cancer research and treatment 107.3 (2008): 421-425.

7) Cagnacci, A., J. A. Elliott, and S. S. Yen. “Melatonin: a major regulator of the circadian rhythm of core temperature in humans.” The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism 75.2 (1992): 447-452.

8) Kiss, K., et al. “Disturbed circadian rhythm in ICU patients as indicated by melatonin levels: a prospective pilot study.” Critical Care 19.Suppl 1 (2015): P549.

9) Flynn-Evans, Erin E., et al. “Circadian rhythm disorders and melatonin production in 127 blind women with and without light perception.” Journal of biological rhythms 29.3 (2014): 215-224.

10) Hill, Steven M., and David E. Blask. “Effects of the pineal hormone melatonin on the proliferation and morphological characteristics of human breast cancer cells (MCF-7) in culture.” Cancer research 48.21 (1988): 6121-6126.

11) Blask, David E., Leonard A. Sauer, and Robert T. Dauchy. “Melatonin as a chronobiotic/anticancer agent: cellular, biochemical, and molecular mechanisms of action and their implications for circadian-based cancer therapy.” Current topics in medicinal chemistry 2.2 (2002): 113-132.

12) Jung, Brittney, and Nihal Ahmad. “Melatonin in cancer management: progress and promise.” Cancer Research 66.20 (2006): 9789-9793.

13) Liburdy, R. P., et al. “ELF magnetic fields, breast cancer, and melatonin: 60 Hz fields block melatonin’s oncostatic action on ER+ breast cancer cell proliferation.” Journal of pineal research 14.2 (1993): 89-97.

14) Lissoni, P., et al. “Five years survival in metastatic non‐small cell lung cancer patients treated with chemotherapy alone or chemotherapy and melatonin: a randomized trial.” Journal of pineal research 35.1 (2003): 12-15.

15) Sanchez-Barcelo, Emilio J., et al. “Melatonin uses in oncology: breast cancer prevention and reduction of the side effects of chemotherapy and radiation.” Expert opinion on investigational drugs 21.6 (2012): 819-831.

16) Harland, Joan D., and Robert P. Liburdy. “Environmental magnetic fields inhibit the antiproliferative action of tamoxifen and melatonin in a human breast cancer cell line.” Bioelectromagnetics 18.8 (1997): 555-562.

17) Stevens, Richard G. “Electric power use and breast cancer: a hyptothesis.” Am. J. Epidemiol.;(United States) 125.4 (1987).

18) Sarkar, Fazlul H., and Yiwei Li. “Using chemopreventive agents to enhance the efficacy of cancer therapy.” Cancer Research 66.7 (2006): 3347-3350.

Cancer: Know Your Enemy August 24, 2015

Posted by Dreamhealer in Cancer, Naturopathic Doctor, Naturopathic Medicine.
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Written by: Dr. Adam McLeod, ND, BSc (Hons)

Chemotherapy is an effective tool at killing cancer cells when it is used appropriately. The biggest challenge is knowing which drug is best suited for an individual’s cancer. Over the years we have learned that certain cancers tend to be more vulnerable to specific chemotherapies. This has resulted in specific protocols being assigned to patients in a “cookie cutter system”. For example, if you have hodgkins lymphoma you are given ABVD1. If you have non-hodgkins lymphoma you are given CHOP2. This model is currently the standard of care with cancer treatment but it is clear that this is not the most effective way to treat cancer.

It is true that certain cancers tend to be susceptible to certain chemotherapies but these generalizations are not universally correct. There is an incredible degree of variation between cancer cells in different people. Genetic variations are significant even between different cells within one tumour in an individual3. In fact, very often there is a protocol different than the standard chemotherapy regimen that would be more effective4. Unless tests are done there is no way of knowing which protocol will be the most effective. It is essential to run these tests first and have a clear rationale for the chemotherapy protocol rather than testing on the patient through trial and error.

There is no question that targeted cancer therapies are the future of oncology. It is very important for patients to realize that we already have the ability to do this. Personalized cancer therapy is available but it is rarely encouraged by oncologists due to the costs. Although these tests are often not covered, they can be done privately for approximately $4000.00.

The older chemotherapy protocols involve using extremely toxic compounds that target any cell which is growing rapidly. In recent years there have been major advances in drugs that target specific pathways in cancer cells5. Before using these targeted drugs effectively it is essential to know which targets the cancer cells are vulnerable to.

When a surgery or biopsy is performed on a cancerous mass it is essential that the sample be sent to a lab that runs these personalized genomic tests. The cancerous cells will be tested against hundreds of different types of chemotherapies and clear evidence will be obtained about which drugs the cancer is actually susceptible to. This vulnerability of the cancer is determined by an actual test on the cells rather than making generalizations based on the type of cancer. As these tests become more affordable it will inevitably become the future standard of care because it is so much more effective than the current standard model.

This is something that patients need to ask for before the surgery. You cannot ask for it to be done afterwards because the cells will not be adequately preserved. This service is rarely offered to patients and few are even aware that this is an option. You need to specifically ask for the cells to be sent to a lab that runs these tests.

Personalized cancer therapy gives patients many additional treatment options. If they do not tolerate the initial chemotherapy regiment well or if the cancer becomes resistant to the first line therapy, then there is a potential “Plan B” that is effective based on molecular evidence. By running this test it will give your oncologist data that justifies the use of a protocol, which may deviate from the current standard of care. The data will give a distinct molecular profile of the cancer that allows a customized treatment plan to be developed for you.

If this customized approach is something you are interested in doing make sure you speak to your oncologist. Any naturopathic doctor who works with oncology on a regular basis will also be familiar with these tests. Contact your local naturopathic doctor to see if this test is right for you.

Dr. Adam McLeod is a Naturopathic Doctor (ND), BSc. (Hon) Molecular biology, First Nations Healer, Motivational Speaker and International Best Selling Author.
He currently practices at his clinic, Yaletown Naturopathic Clinic, in Vancouver, BC where he focuses on integrative oncology.

References:
1) Bonadonna G, Zucali R, Monfardini S, De Lena M, Uslenghi C (1975). “Combination chemotherapy of Hodgkin’s disease with adriamycin, bleomycin, vinblastine, and imidazole carboxamide versus MOPP.”. Cancer 36 (1): 252–9

2) Fisher RI, Gaynor ER, Dahlberg S, Oken MM, Grogan TM, Mize EM, Glick JH, Coltman CA Jr, Miller TP (1993). “Comparison of a standard regimen (CHOP) with three intensive chemotherapy regimens for advanced non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.”. N Engl J Med 328 (14): 1002–6.

3) Ross, Douglas T., et al. “Systematic variation in gene expression patterns in human cancer cell lines.” Nature genetics 24.3 (2000): 227-235.

4) Strickland, Stephen A., et al. “Correlation of the microculture-kinetic drug-induced apoptosis assay with patient outcomes in initial treatment of adult acute myelocytic leukemia.” Leukemia & lymphoma 54.3 (2013): 528-534.

5) McDermott, Ultan, and Jeff Settleman. “Personalized cancer therapy with selective kinase inhibitors: an emerging paradigm in medical oncology.” Journal of Clinical Oncology 27.33 (2009): 5650-5659.

What You Need to Know About Sleep August 20, 2015

Posted by Dreamhealer in Healing, Health, Sleep.
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The number one thing you need to know about sleep? It is important!

The average person spends 36% of their lives asleep and there is good reason for this. Sleep is as essential to our health and well being as diet, exercise and all the other little things you do to keep yourself healthy. As with diet it is not only quantity of sleep but also quality. The average sleep time historically was about 9 hours. Now, we average about 6.5 hours with an increasing number of us living on even less. According to Lucassen et al. (2008) “Chronic sleep disruption can be regarded as a physiological stressor”. The knock on health effects of both short term and chronic lack of sleep mean we should all be making sleep as much of a priority as going to the gym or eating our 5 a day.

Why is Sleep so Important?

While there are many different theories about the purpose of sleep, it is widely acknowledged that sleep is a time of restoration and rebuilding within the body.

Sleep is Needed for Your Brain to Rebuild

One example of this is in the brain where flushing of the fluid around the brain throughout the brain cells removes waste products. This process mainly occurs during sleep. Therefore without sleep your brain basically cannot properly rid itself of waste products including amino acids. These include substances such as amelyoid beta – a chemical involved in alzheimer’s. Other brain processes such as memory consolidation and processing are carried also out during sleep. Studies have shown that students will retain more information if they sleep on it.The 5 hours after learning is the critical time for memory consolidation and it is sensitive to sleep deprivation (Hagewoud et al. 2010). Have you ever had a problem and then slept on it and figured it out the next morning? This is because problem solving ability increases during sleep because neural connections increase.

Sleep Helps with Weight Loss 

As we all know obesity is one of the most biggest health challenges facing us today. Contributing factors include sedentary lifestyle and poor diet. Another possible factor (and therefore another weapon in the fight against obesity) is sleep. When you don’t sleep enough your body craves stimulants such as sugar, carbohydrates, caffeine and nicotine to help it sustain itself. Lack of quality sleep can lead to poor diet and lifestyle choices as your body is simply too tired to cope without some sort of additional help. Quality sleep will not only reduce your risk of relying on these stimulants but sleep also decreases the production of grelin- the hormone responsible for hunger. So getting a good night’s sleep can also help you stay on track with maintaining a healthy diet throughout the day.

Lack of Sleep Can Impair Your Body’s Ability to Heal Your Brain!

Sleep deprivation undoubtedly puts the body under stress.  Lack of sleep impairs our brain functionality and can cause damage to the brain. Studies on rats have shown the antioxidant glutathione decreases in some parts of the brain when the rats are deprived of sleep. This chemical is essential for the protection of cells from damage by free radicals, heavy metals and other harmful chemicals in the body. One part of the brain that was found to be particularly vulnerable was the hypothalamus and the study hypothesizes that this could be a factor in the impaired functionality experienced as a result of sleep deprivation. Sleep deprivation also effects the stress hormone systems of the body. Meerlo, Sgoifo and Suchecki (2008) state that sleep deprivation may have a direct activating effect on these systems and long term, could affect the reactivity of these stress systems to to other challenges and stressors. This means that long term lack of sleep may inhibit your body’s ability to cope with challenges such as stress and illness.  Increases in blood pressure caused by lack of sleep can potentially contribute to cardiovascular disease. Elevated glucose and insulin levels which are known side effects of sleep deprivation are contributory factors in diabetes. These are just some of the ways sleep physically affects the body.

What Affects our Ability to Sleep?

Many different facets of modern life interfere with the natural rhythm of our body clock also known as circadian rhythm. Circadian rhythm is the internal system that regulates our wake/sleep pattern. It is seen throughout the natural world in plants, animals, fungi and bacteria. This rhythm is controlled by light. In the natural world this would mean daylight. Nowadays, we are surrounded by lights from electric light bulbs, computer screens, televisions and cellphones at all hours of the day and night. This can interfere with this natural rhythm which evolved over thousands of years in a world dominated by sunlight as the main source of light. Overstimulation by unnatural light sources is thought to be one of the contributory factors to the decline of sleep quality in modern life.

Another factor affecting sleep which researchers have identified is our work. Åkerstedt et. al (2002) identified some of the major aspects of work that affect our sleep in different ways. High work demands, physical effort at work, work related stress and the social situation, feelings of support at work all contribute to sleep disruption. The study also identified other factors such as obesity, lack of exercise, age, gender and even martial status as predictors of sleep deprivation. Perhaps unsurprisingly, having a good social support indicated a lower risk for sleep disturbance and poor sleep patterns while being over 45, female, a smoker and overweight increased that risk.

How Do I Know If I am Getting Enough Quality Sleep?

As previously mentioned it is not simply a case of time yourself to sleep for 8 hours of sleep a day (though that does work for many people). The quality of sleep is also crucial as is recognizing that different people have different sleep patterns at different times in their lives. Teenagers internal body clock predisposes them to stay up late at night and wake up late in the day. As we age, people become less capable of sleeping in a large block of time. Older people do not need less sleep but napping is a more effectual way for them to rest. The key things to think about in terms of sleep are- Do you wake up feeling rested or is it very difficult for you to get out of bed in the morning? Do you wake up during the night? Do you experience a slump in your energy during the day? Do you find you rely of coffee, nicotine or sugar etc to wake you up or get you through the day? Do you rely on pharmaceuticals or alcohol to help you get to sleep at night? If so then you may need to take control of your sleep pattern and adopt some simple practices to improve your sleep.

What is Sleep Hygiene?

Sleep Hygiene is is term used to describe practices and habits which are conducive to sleep. Getting a good nights sleep sometimes requires a little bit of planning not just before bed but throughout your day. As previously discussed the circadian rhythm or body clock is regulated by light. Avoiding bright light late at night (at least thirty minutes before you plan on going to bed) can help your body to switch to sleep mode. As previously mentioned the body’s circadian rhythm is controlled by light. Even staring at a TV, computer or phone before bed can interfere with this. Bright lights in the bathroom before bed or when you wake up in the middle of the night should be avoided. Switch to softer, more gentle lights to aid sleep.

How do I get Better Sleep?

Exercise is a fantastic tool to help aid sleep. Vigorous exercise in the morning or early afternoon can help you sleep better at night because it decreases stress levels. It should be avoided right before bed as it will stimulate the body to be more wakeful. Gentle exercise like walking, or yoga are helpful as part of an evening unwinding routine.

Caffeine, nicotine sugar and other stimulants should be avoided close to bed time. Experts vary as to the length of time you should stop consuming these before bed. Some sources say about 6 hours others say more or less. You will find the right balance yourself but it is a good idea to err on the side of caution. Many people advocate the use of alcohol as a “night cap” to help induce sleep. However these should be used with caution. While alcohol may help you to get to sleep in the first place, overall it decreases the quality of your sleep throughout the night as your body works to break it down. Avoiding drinking a lot of liquids for 2 hours before bed is also helpful. Waking in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom has a detrimental effect on the quality of your sleep.

A light meal can be helpful to induce sleep. You should avoid going to bed hungry. However, heavy or spicy meals have the opposite effect and as your body works to digest these food it disturbs the normal processes you should be going through during sleep. Milk has been shown to have properties that are conducive to sleep but not everyone tolerates dairy well so this may not be an option for everyone.

Creating an environment in your bedroom that is conducive to sleep is crucial. Apart from the absence of bright light the temperature should be right for sleeping, noise even background noise will effect your sleep so if necessary use earplugs. Avoid to other activities such as eating or working in your bedroom. This will help your mind to associate this room with sleep and aid in moving your body to the sleep stage.

Avoid going to bed when you are not actually tired. Lying in bed thinking about work or the fact that you are not asleep yet will not induce sleep. Don’t look at the clock and count how many hours you have left before you get up. This can lead to stress and anxiety which only further inhibits your sleep. If you are having trouble sleeping get up and go into another room and do something restful (not looking at a screen!). This may include reading a book, listening to soothing music or meditation.

Maintaining the circadian rhythm will help to improve your sleep quality. This means going to bed and waking up at the same time each day as much as possible (yes even on weekends). Napping, though useful for some people should be avoided for those who find it difficult to sleep at night. If you are a person who must nap then avoid napping later in the day (at least 5 hours before bed). Establishing this routine helps your body to learn when it’s time to wake up and when it’s time to sleep.

Bright lights in the morning will help to stimulate the body into wakefulness mode. going outside in the light or opening up the blinds in your room will help to rid you of that early morning grogginess.

Are there Natural Supplements that can Help with Sleep?

There are many supplements that can be beneficial to aid your sleep. Melatonin is a hormone secreted by the pineal gland in the brain which controls the sleep/wake cycle. Lack of this hormone is what causes people to be poorer sleepers as they age. The darker days of winter cause the body to produce it at different times in winter and it has been linked to seasonal affective disorder. It has been found to be useful in the treatment of cluster headaches and in high doses it has also been shown to be an effective adjunctive treatment for cancer. It can be used as a supplement to aid sleep with minimal side effects and it is often used to help control the sleeping patterns of shift workers. Magnesium and vitamin D also have a role in sleep. Making sure you are getting enough of these essential vitamins and minerals is helpful in the quest for a restful night’s sleep. Avoiding side effects such as grogginess involves finding the right dose. This varies from person to person and you should consult your naturopathic doctor or health care professional to find the right dose for you.

Non-pharmacological interventions for patients suffering with insomnia were found to be beneficial for 70-80% of patients. (Morin et. al 1999). These could include things like homeopathics, acupuncure, mindfulness and the other techniques previously mentioned. There are many health issues such as sleep apnoea, nervous system issues and abnormal hormone levels which can contribute to poor sleep. Talking to your naturopathic doctor may help to uncover or rule out these issues and help you catch those much needed zzzzz.

If you have any questions about sleep and how you can improve your sleep quality feel free to contact our clinic at 604-235-8068 or by email at info@yaletownnaturopathic.com.

References

1. Restricted and disrupted sleep: Effects on autonomic function, neuroendocrine stress systems and stress responsivity. Peter Meerlo, Andrea Sgoifo, Deborah Suchecki. Sleep Medicine Reviews. June 2008

2. Sleep disturbances, work stress and work hours-A cross-sectional study. T Åkerstedt, A Knutsson, P Westerholm, T Theorell, L Alfredsson, G Kecklund. Journal of Psychosomatic Research: February 2002

3. Sleep deprivation induces brain region‐specific decreases in glutathione levels

D’Almeida, Vânia1,2; Lobo, Letícia L.1; Hipólide, Débora C.1; de Oliveira, Allan C.2; Nobrega, José N.3; Tufilk, Sérgio1,4

4. Nonpharmacologic treatment of chronic insomnia. An American Academy of Sleep Medicine review. Morin CM, Hauri PJ, Espie CA, Spielman AJ, Buysse DJ, Bootzin RR

Sleep. 1999.

5. Coping with Sleep Deprivation: Shifts in Regional Brain Activity and Learning Strategy

Roelina Hagewoud,1,† Robbert Havekes, PhD,1,†§ Paula A. Tiba, PhD,2 Arianna Novati,1 Koen Hogenelst,1 Pim Weinreder,1 Eddy A. Van der Zee, PhD,1 and Peter Meerlo, PhD1. Sleep. 2010.

6. Regulation of adult neurogenesis by stress, sleep disruption, exercise and inflammation: Implications for depression and antidepressant action. P.J. Lucas, P. Meerlo, A.S. Naylor, A.M. Van Dam, A.G. Bayer, E.Fuchs, C.A. Women, B. Czeh. European Neuropsychopharmacology. 2010

Yaletown Naturopathic Satellite Clinic in Haida Gwaii August 17, 2015

Posted by Dreamhealer in haida gwaii, naturopath, Naturopathic Doctor, vancouver.
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The team at Yaletown Naturopathic Clinic were invited to Haida Gwaii to establish a satellite clinic within the Skidegate Health Centre. We were delighted to be able to share our knowledge within the community. The Skidegate Health Centre aims to move their model of care from treating illness to promoting wellness which is in line with the principles of Naturopathic Medicine!

Naturopathic doctors are guided by six fundamental healing principles:

  • First, to do no harm, by using methods and medicines that minimize the risk of harmful side effects.
  • To treat the causes of disease, by identifying and removing the underlying causes of illness, rather than suppressing symptoms.
  • To teach the principles of healthy living and preventative medicine, by sharing knowledge with patients and encouraging individual responsibility for health.
  • To heal the whole person through individualized treatment, by understanding the unique physical, mental, emotional, genetic, environmental and social factors that contribute to illness, and customizing treatment protocols to the patient.
  • To emphasize prevention, by partnering with the patient to assess risk factors and recommend appropriate naturopathic interventions to maintain health and prevent illness.
  • To support the healing power of the body, by recognizing and removing obstacles to the body’s inherent self-healing process.

The response from the Haida Gwaii community was overwhelmingly positive. As practitioners it was very rewarding for us to see how much the medicine resonated with the patients. We look forward to returning to Skidegate in the future and partnering with the community to help build a proactive wellness model to better support the health of the community.

During our stay in Haida Gwaii we were very fortunate to be able to explore the island and ocean! To see photographs from our trip to Haida Gwaii please visit our Facebook page, we have a album labeled Haida Gwaii July 2015:

https://www.facebook.com/Yaletown.Naturopathic.Clinic

What Is SIBO? August 13, 2015

Posted by Dreamhealer in gut flora, Naturopathic Medicine, probiotics.
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Written By: Dr. Reuben Dinsmore, ND

What is SIBO?

how-to-treat-SIBO-vancouver-naturopath-710x400 It’s short for Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth, and recently the numbers of patients coming in with this condition has increased significantly. Let’s break it down.

The first question I hear you asking – but isn’t there supposed to be bacteria in my small intestine? Isn’t that why I’ve been putting half of my health spending account towards probiotics on your recommendation? Short answer – yes, there are trillions of bacterial cells throughout the small and large intestine (fun fact: you have more bacterial cells inside and on the surface of your body than you have human cells). But there are different strains of bacteria in different areas. And the problem arises when the bacteria that’s supposed to stay in the large intestine gets into the small intestine.

The main difference in function between the small and large intestine: the small intestine digests food and absorbs nutrients, and the large intestine balances water and electrolytes through selective reabsorption. One other important feature of the large intestine is production of some B vitamins and vitamin K by some of our friendly resident bacteria.

In more detail, the small intestine receives chyme from the stomach, which is a thick mixture of chewed-up, partially-digested food and stomach acid. The acid is quickly neutralized by a base from the pancreas, allowing the bacteria to go to work. As you travel further down the 7-meter length of the small intestine, the numbers of bacteria increase exponentially as they reproduce to continue the digestive process. Without these beneficial bacteria, you would die of starvation within hours. By the time you reach the large intestine, ideally all the useful nutrients have been absorbed, and there’s mostly only waste materials and water. If food carries on into the large intestine, then you experience trouble in the form of gas. And that brings us back to SIBO.

Remember how we said there are different bacteria between the small and large intestine? If food material gets into the large intestine, the bacteria that live there digest it differently from the small intestinal bacteria – with the socially-awkward byproduct of gas (mostly methane). Now imagine if that bacteria that’s supposed to be confined to the large intestine make the move into the small intestine, with its unlimited supply of food particles. It’s the bacterial equivalent of a keg party with the whole town showing up uninvited.

What are the Symptoms of SIBO?

The hallmark symptom of SIBO is bloating. After eating. After eating anything. This is what can sometimes differentiate it from other causes of bloating. If there are particular food sensitivities, bloating can usually be traced to certain foods, which can then be avoided. If you have a deficiency in a certain digestive enzyme (two of the best-known examples are the enzymes that break down lactose or gluten) that bloating is usually accompanied by other fun symptoms like flatulence and/or diarrhea. But the list of possible symptoms associated with SIBO goes on and on – gastrointestinal upset, skin and joint issues, and even mood changes and nutrient deficiencies.

How do I Test for SIBO?

We use a breath test that measures hydrogen and methane. These are gases that are produced by bacteria (but not humans) and so can be used to estimate bacterial activity in the gut. These gases diffuse into the blood and eventually are excreted via the lungs.

How do I Treat SIBO?

There are two main treatment options, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. First – treatment with pharmaceutical antibiotics. The second – treatment with herbal anti-microbial products.

With antibiotics, an advantage is that it only takes a two-week course of treatment. One potential disadvantage (depending on your extended health coverage) is that it’s fairly expensive (between $300-500).

With herbal products, the course of treatment is about twice as long. Typically the herbal supplements should cost less than the antibiotics, but they should be chosen with care and on the recommendation of a health professional familiar with their use and efficacy, as the formulation and potency are key to their effectiveness.

Whether you choose to use either antibiotics or herbals, the remainder of the treatment is the same. First, you need to keep everything moving forward – remember, the original problem is that large intestine bacteria somehow managed to make their way against the flow up into the small intestine. If everything is moving forward properly, this greatly reduces the chances of recurrence.

Second, replace all the essential bacteria that you killed off, using a solid protocol of probiotics. We get wonderful results with the Natren line of probiotics, one of the original and best-researched products available.

To round out the treatment: you’ll need to work on healing the gut lining from any damage done by the invading bacteria; follow a diet specially designed to “feed the person but starve the bacteria”; strengthen the ileo-cecal valve (located between the small and large intestine, designed to prevent bacterial movement upstream); and improve overall digestive health, including production of stomach acid and digestive enzymes.

If you’ve been experiencing the symptoms listed above, you should probably give us a call and get it checked out – it might be SIBO, or it might be something less complicated. Either way, we can make you feel better, and make eating enjoyable again.

Dr. Reuben Dinsmore is a Naturopathic Doctor (ND) practicing out of Yaletown Naturopathic Clinic. To book an appointment contact the clinic at 604-235-8068 or by email at info@yaletownnaturopathic.com. Start your journey to wellness today!

Hyperthermia: An Emerging Adjunctive Cancer Therapy August 11, 2015

Posted by Dreamhealer in Healing.
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Written By: Dr. Adam McLeod, ND, BSc

Hyperthermia is an emerging therapy that has great potential as an adjunctive cancer therapy. In Germany, hyperthermia, also known as “oncothermia” has been used for decades in conjunction with chemotherapy and radiation. These advanced medical devices significantly heat up the tumour and this causes profound metabolic changes within cancer cells that make them more vulnerable to conventional therapies1,2,3.

It is important to point out that hyperthermia is very different from an infrared sauna or the application of a heat pack. A loco-regional hyperthermia device is a state-of-the-art medical device that significantly heats the tissues surrounding a tumour1. You will not heat any tumour effectively without these advanced devices, especially if it is a deeper tumour. Recent research emphasizes the importance of a loco-regional hyperthermia device that possesses at least two active electrodes along with enough power to target deep areas in the body. Currently there are only a few clinics in North America that have these devices.

So how does hyperthermia work? The application of heat will cause major metabolic changes in cancerous cells including protein denaturation and aggregation which triggers cell arrest and inactivation of protein synthesis6. The heat also causes alterations in cellular membrane permeability and results in decreased levels of ATP7,8. The proteins within the nucleus of cancerous cells appear to be particularly vulnerable to the effects of hyperthermia2. In other words, the heat adds substantial stress to the cancerous cells and these metabolic changes that occur make them vulnerable to chemotherapy and radiation3,4,5.

hyperthermia cancer treatment

The goal of any conventional cancer therapy is to damage the abnormal cells as effectively as possible. It is clear that the application of heat adds a substantial amount of stress to these abnormal cells. The combination of the stress from the heat and chemotherapy or radiation is overwhelming for cancer cells. There is a potent synergy with these therapies and hyperthermia should be seriously considered for any patient undergoing chemotherapy or radiation for a solid tumour.

Hyperthermia during Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy is one of the fundamental tools used in a conventional cancer setting. It involves the use of drugs that are often toxic to both cancer cells and healthy cells. The objective when doing chemotherapy is to damage the abnormal cells without causing harm to healthy cells. Cancer cells within a tumour are inherently poor at distributing heat because the cells are so tightly packed together. Normal cells based on their spatial arrangement are more efficient at dispersing heat. Several studies indicate that cancer cells are more susceptible to heat injury than normal cells2,14. Hyperthermia is a adjunctive therapy that can be used to enhance the effectiveness of chemotherapy and the metabolic reasons for this effect are obvious. Hyperthermia is cytotoxic to cancer cells within a tumour and this works synergistically with the cytotoxic properties of chemotherapy. Here are some of the effects that the application of heat has on cancer cells while a patient is doing chemotherapy.

Increased Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS)

Reactive oxygen species are highly reactive molecules which damage DNA and other essential components within cancerous cells. Many chemotherapy drugs work by generating reactive oxygen species which damage these rapidly growing cells. Elevated temperatures increase the rates of biochemical reactions and the net effect is that cell metabolism is increased. This is relevant to patients undergoing chemotherapy because the increased cell metabolism will cause a significant elevation in reactive oxygen species (ROS) and oxidative stress9,10,11. The application of heat causes increased generation of ROS such as hydrogen peroxide and superoxide. Not only does heat increase the generation of ROS, it also makes these molecules more reactive12. The net effect is a significant increase in the formation and activity of ROS within cancerous cells.

Many of the most commonly used chemotherapies operate by generating oxidative stress within cancer cells. This is why patients are told by their oncologists to avoid high doses of antioxidants. If the mechanism of action of a drug is to create oxidative stress then it is logical that you should avoid mega doses of antioxidants which could neutralize this effect. What is so exciting about localized hyperthermia is that it will heat up the tumour and this will only result in increased oxidative stress in the immediate environment of the tumour. When hyperthermia is combined with chemotherapy it generates much more free radicals in the tumour9, thus making the chemotherapy more effective.

Physiological changes with Hyperthermia

One of the biggest challenges with chemotherapy is effectively delivering the drug to the tumour. Tumours have a terrible blood supply because the cells are so densely packed together. Often when chemotherapy is infused into a patient very small amounts of that drug actually get to the tumour13. When any tissue in the human body is heated it results in the dilation of blood vessels. Thus by applying heat to the tumour you are increasing blood flow into that tumour which allows more effective delivery of the drug to the tumour. This is critically important for patients treating solid tumours with chemotherapy. It is essential to actually deliver the drug to the tumour and hyperthermia enhances enhances that delivery.

Chemotherapy often weakens the immune system which is a problem because a functioning immune system is necessary to fight cancer. Chemotherapy or radiation will not be effective if the immune system is not capable of cleaning up the metabolic mess. The application of heat appears to stimulate various elements of the immune system15,16. It is well-documented that the heat will increase the migration of immune cells to the target site and increase the activity of immune cells in the area.

Laboratory and in vivo studies have shown that the combined use of hyperthermia and chemotherapy leads to increased cytotoxic effects of several anti-cancer drugs such as cisplatin, anthracyclines, cyclophosphamide, ifosfamide, nitrosoureas, belomycin, mitomycin and melphalan26,27,28,29,30. For some of these drugs the interactions between heat and drug are extremely synergistic31. These results clearly demonstrate that the effects chemotherapy are enhanced by hyperthermia.

Reversal of chemotherapy resistance

The biggest fear with chemotherapy is that the cancer becomes resistant to the drug. This severely limits the patients options and results in an aggressive, resistant cancer. There is a great deal of genetic diversity within a tumour. As a consequence, with every round of chemotherapy you are killing cells which are sensitive to that drug leaving behind cells that are resistant. As more resistant cells survive eventually the cancer no longer responds to that drug and the therapy must then be changed.

The most exciting effect of hyperthermia in the context of chemotherapy is that it has the ability to reverse resistance to certain chemotherapy drugs17,18,19,20. There are several obvious metabolic reasons why hyperthermia could have this effect on cancer cells. There is evidence to suggest that multi-drug resistant (MDR) cells are particularly vulnerable to the effects of hyperthermia21. This is incredibly important in the fight against cancer because by definition these cells are resistant to chemotherapy. These cells that become resistant to drugs often do not display cross-resistance to heat and as a consequence they are still vulnerable to hyperthermia32.

It is not unusual to have patients stop responding to a drug after several rounds. Only when the chemotherapy is combined with hyperthermia does the cancer start responding again to the same drug. In other words, the application of heat triggered a reversal of chemotherapy resistance and it allowed these patients to continue therapy when there were few options available.

Summary of Hyperthermia and Chemotherapy

In summary the evidence supporting the application of loco-regional hyperthermia as an adjunct to chemotherapy is strong and the reasons are obvious. By heating the tumour it enhances the delivery of the drug to the cancerous cells by increasing blood flow into the tumour. The heat also results in increased immune presence and activity in the vicinity of the tumour. Most importantly, hyperthermia damages the drug resistant cells and in some cases it reverses the chemotherapy resistance so commonly seen after repeated rounds of chemotherapy. In general, the most effective heat-drug sequence is drug treatment immediately before heat delivery. In other words, you should start the hyperthermia as soon as possible after receiving the chemotherapy infusion.

Hyperthermia during Radiation therapy

One of the most promising aspects of hyperthermia in cancer treatment is the ability to eliminate radiation-resistant tumour cells3. Hyperthermia is recognized as one of the most effective radio-sensitizers known. The basis for this effect is that hyperthermia has the ability to kill cells that are under conditions of hypoxia (low oxygen), low pH and that are in the S-phase of cell division. These are all conditions that allow cells to become resistant to radiation. This is why hyperthermia can be effective at increasing the effectiveness of radiation. It has the ability to kill those cells which would otherwise be resistant to the radiation.

It has been suggested that part of the mechanism for this radio-sensitizing effect is that hyperthermia interferes with the repair of radiation-induced DNA damage. Several studies have indeed observed that hyperthermia increased the amount of radiation-induced chromosomal aberrations22,23. A major part of this radio-sensitizing effect appears to be due to the inhibition of base excision repair of DNA damage24,25. The purpose of radiation is to damage the DNA of cancerous cells. The application of heat makes it challenging for these cancer cells to repair from this damage.

At least 19 randomized studies using a combination of hyperthermia with radiotherapy, chemotherapy or both, have shown significant improvements in clinical outcomes of oncology patients, without a significant increase in side effects33. The combination of hyperthermia with radiation resulted in higher complete response rates, accompanied by improved local tumour control rates and better overall survival rates in many Phase II clinical trials34,35,36,37,38,39. These results consistently demonstrate a synergy between hyperthermia and radiation.

Summary of Hyperthermia

When looking at the evidence there is a clear and consistent trend. Localized hyperthermia has significant potential as an adjunctive cancer therapy. The application of heat using these advanced medical devices increases the effectiveness or chemotherapy and radiation. Hyperthermia reduces the risk of the cancer developing resistance to chemotherapy or radiation. At the end of the day the goal is to use every tool at our disposal to increase the effectiveness of conventional therapies and destroy the cancerous cells. Hyperthermia is a potent adjunctive therapy that can help to accomplish that goal.

Medical centres around the world are using this technology to enhance the positive benefits of chemotherapy and radiation. Currently there are only a few clinics in North America that offer hyperthermia as an adjunctive cancer therapy. Yaletown Naturopathic Clinic in Vancouver, BC is one such clinic that offers this service.

References:

1) Noh, Jae Myoung, et al. “In vivo verification of regional hyperthermia in the liver.” Radiation oncology journal 32.4 (2014): 256-261.

2) Sugahara, Tsutomu, et al. “Kadota fund international forum 2004. Application of thermal stress for the improvement of health, 15–18 June 2004, Awaji Yumebutai international conference center, Awaji island, Hyogo, Japan. Final report.”International journal of hyperthermia: the official journal of European Society for Hyperthermic Oncology, North American Hyperthermia Group 24.2 (2008): 123.

3) Bettaieb, Ahmed, Paulina K. Wrzal, and Diana A. Averill-Bates. “Hyperthermia: Cancer treatment and beyond.” Cancer treatment—conventional and innovative approaches (2013).

4) van der Zee, Jill. “Heating the patient: a promising approach?.” Annals of oncology 13.8 (2002): 1173-1184.

5) Van der Zee, J. “Hyperthermia in addition to radiotherapy.” Clinical Oncology 19.3 (2007): S18.

6) Lepock, James R. “How do cells respond to their thermal environment?.” International journal of hyperthermia 21.8 (2005): 681-687.

7) Richter, Klaus, Martin Haslbeck, and Johannes Buchner. “The heat shock response: life on the verge of death.”Molecular cell 40.2 (2010): 253-266.

8) Sonna, Larry A., et al. “Invited review: effects of heat and cold stress on mammalian gene expression.” Journal of Applied Physiology 92.4 (2002): 1725-1742.

9) Moriyama-Gonda, N., et al. “Heat–Induced Cellular Damage and Tolerance in Combination with Adriamycin for the PC–3 Prostate Cancer Cell Line: Relationships with Cytotoxicity, Reactive Oxygen Species and Heat Shock Protein 70 Expression.” European urology 38.2 (2000): 235-240.

10) Katschinski, Dörthe M., et al. “Role of tumor necrosis factor α in hyperthermia-induced apoptosis of human leukemia cells.” Cancer research 59.14 (1999): 3404-3410.

11) Bettaieb, Ahmed, and Diana A. Averill-Bates. “Thermotolerance induced at a fever temperature of 40 C protects cells against hyperthermia-induced apoptosis mediated by death receptor signalling.” Biochemistry and Cell Biology 86.6 (2008): 521-538.

12) Lord-Fontaine, Stephanie, and Diana A. Averill. “Enhancement of cytotoxicity of hydrogen peroxide by hyperthermia in chinese hamster ovary cells: role of antioxidant defenses.” Archives of biochemistry and biophysics 363.2 (1999): 283-295.

13) Drummond, Daryl C., et al. “Optimizing liposomes for delivery of chemotherapeutic agents to solid tumors.”Pharmacological reviews 51.4 (1999): 691-744.

14) Babbs, C. F., and D. P. DeWitt. “Physical principles of local heat therapy for cancer.” Medical instrumentation 15.6 (1980): 367-373.

15) Bogovič, J., et al. “Posttreatment histology and microcirculation status of osteogenic sarcoma after a neoadjuvant chemo-and radiotherapy in combination with local electromagnetic hyperthermia.” Oncology Research and Treatment 24.1 (2001): 55-58.

16) Calderwood, Stuart K., Salamatu S. Mambula, and PHILLIP J. GRAY. “Extracellular heat shock proteins in cell signaling and immunity.” Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 1113.1 (2007): 28-39.

17) Towle, L. R. “Hyperthermia and drug resistance.” Hyperthermia and oncology 4 (1994): 91-113.

18) Herman, Terence S., et al. “Reversal of resistance to methotrexate by hyperthermia in Chinese hamster ovary cells.”Cancer research 41.10 (1981): 3840-3843.

19) Raaphorst, G. P., et al. “A comparison of hyperthermia cisplatin sensitization in human ovarian carcinoma and glioma cell lines sensitive and resistant to cisplatin treatment.” Cancer chemotherapy and pharmacology 37.6 (1996): 574-580.

20) Wallner, Kent E., Michael Banda, and Gloria C. Li. “Hyperthermic enhancement of cell killing by mitomycin C in mitomycin C-resistant Chinese hamster ovary cells.” Cancer research 47.5 (1987): 1308-1312.

21) Uckun, Fatih M., et al. “Radiation and heat sensitivity of human T-lineage acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) and acute myeloblastic leukemia (AML) clones displaying multiple drug resistance (MDR).” International Journal of Radiation Oncology* Biology* Physics 23.1 (1992): 115-125.

22) Dewey, W. C., and L. E. Hopwood. “„Sapareto, SA, and Gerweck, LE, 1977,” Cellular responses to combinations of hyperthermia and radiation,”.” Radiology 123: 463-474.

23) Dewey, William C., Stephen A. Sapareto, and David A. Betten. “Hyperthermic radiosensitization of synchronous Chinese hamster cells: relationship between lethality and chromosomal aberrations.” Radiation research 76.1 (1978): 48-59.

24) Dikomey, HH Kampinga, E. “Hyperthermic radiosensitization: mode of action and clinical relevance.” International journal of radiation biology 77.4 (2001): 399-408.

25) H. KAMPINGA, AWT KONINGS, AJ EVERS, JF BRUNSTING, N. MISFUD, and RL ANDERSON, H. “Resistance to heat radiosensitization and protein damage in thermotolerant and thermoresistant cells.” International journal of radiation biology 71.3 (1997): 315-326.

26) Hildebrandt, Bert, et al. “The cellular and molecular basis of hyperthermia.” Critical reviews in oncology/hematology43.1 (2002): 33-56.

27) Bates, Diana A., and William J. Mackillop. “Hyperthermia, adriamycin transport, and cytotoxicity in drug-sensitive and-resistant Chinese hamster ovary cells.” Cancer research 46.11 (1986): 5477-5481.

28) Issels, Rolf D. “Hyperthermia adds to chemotherapy.” European Journal of Cancer 44.17 (2008): 2546-2554.

29) Engelhardt, R. “Rationale for clinical application of hyperthermia and drugs.” Strahlentherapie und Onkologie: Organ der Deutschen Röntgengesellschaft…[et al] 163.7 (1987): 428.

30) Dahl, O. “Interaction of hyperthermia and chemotherapy.” Application of Hyperthermia in the Treatment of Cancer. Springer Berlin Heidelberg, 1988. 157-169.

31) Kampinga, Harm H. “Cell biological effects of hyperthermia alone or combined with radiation or drugs: a short introduction to newcomers in the field.” International journal of hyperthermia 22.3 (2006): 191-196.

32) Souslova, Tatiana, and Diana A. Averill-Bates. “Multidrug-resistant hela cells overexpressing MRP1 exhibit sensitivity to cell killing by hyperthermia: interactions with etoposide.” International Journal of Radiation Oncology* Biology* Physics 60.5 (2004): 1538-1551.

33) van der Zee, Jill, et al. “The Kadota Fund International Forum 2004-Clinical group consensus*.” International Journal of Hyperthermia 24.2 (2008): 111-122.

34) Group, International Collaborative Hyperthermia, et al. “Radiotherapy with or without hyperthermia in the treatment of superficial localized breast cancer: Results from five randomized controlled trials.” International Journal of Radiation Oncology* Biology* Physics 35.4 (1996): 731-744.

35) Overgaard, Jens, et al. “Randomised trial of hyperthermia as adjuvant to radiotherapy for recurrent or metastatic malignant melanoma.” The Lancet 345.8949 (1995): 540-543.

36) Valdagni, Riccardo, and Maurizio Amichetti. “Report of long-term follow-up in a randomized trial comparing radiation therapy and radiation therapy plus hyperthermia to metastatic lymphnodes in stage IV head and neck patients.”International Journal of Radiation Oncology* Biology* Physics 28.1 (1994): 163-169.

37) Datta, N. R., et al. “Head and neck cancers: results of thermoradiotherapy versus radiotherapy.” International Journal of Hyperthermia 6.3 (1990): 479-486.

38) Zee, J. Van Der, et al. “POINT-COUNTERPOINT: What is the optimal trial design to test hyperthermia for carcinoma of the cervix? POINT: Addition of hyperthermia or cisplatin to radiotherapy for patients with cervical cancer; two promising combinations–no definite conclusions.” International journal of hyperthermia 18.1 (2002): 19-24.

39) Sharma, Sanjiv, et al. “Side-effects of local hyperthermia: results of a prospectively randomized clinical study.”International journal of hyperthermia 6.2 (1990): 279-285.

Glycemic Levels and Cancer Recurrence August 5, 2015

Posted by Dreamhealer in Blood sugar, Metformin, Naturopathic Doctor.
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Yaletown Naturopath

Written By: Dr. Adam McLeod, ND, BSc (Hons)

I tell virtually every cancer patient that they should avoid sugar as much as possible. Some doctors insist that sugar has no effect on cancer. This is simply not what the scientific literature states. If you are trying to fight cancer or prevent the recurrence of cancer, then you should make an effort to reduce your sugar intake.

Study after study has demonstrated a direct connection between sugar intake and cancer risk1,2,3,4,5. There are a wide range of cancers which are associated with increased sugar intake. Cancer cells often have significantly more insulin receptors than normal cells. In other words, they respond very rapidly to insulin and they will always be more effective at grabbing sugar from the blood stream and utilizing it as an energy source. Cancer cells will always grab the sugar before normal cells due to this fundamental shift in their metabolism.

The sugar acts as a direct source of energy for the cancer cells. These abnormal cells are often dependent on a constant supply of sugar, which is pushed through anaerobic glycolysis to provide them with energy. Essentially the sugar acts as fuel which directly stimulates the growth of cancerous cells. The fundamental challenge is that normal cells also require sugar and it is simply not possible to eliminate sugar completely.

It turns out that although sugar acts as fuel to cancer cells, the mechanism for the enhanced tumour growth from sugar is different than you would expect. There is a big difference in the metabolism of a food rich in simple sugars compared to a food that contains complex carbohydrates. When you eat a food rich in simple sugars such as candy, the body rapidly absorbs the sugar. This causes a rapid and significant elevation of the sugar concentration in your blood. In response to this sugar spike, the pancreas secretes insulin, which circulates through the entire body in an effort to bring the sugar levels back to normal.

Insulin interacts with the receptors on the surface of both normal and cancerous cells. Upon interacting with the cells, it helps them to pull sugar in from the blood until the blood sugar level drops back to a normal level. Remember that cancer cells have more insulin receptors, so they will always take advantage of this insulin spike more effectively than normal cells. It is this spike in insulin and insulin-like growth factors that stimulate the growth of cancerous cells2. In other words, it is not the sugar content that is stimulating growth; it is the response to sudden increases in sugar levels.

Complex carbohydrates are metabolized very differently in the body. They do not cause a sudden spike in blood sugar levels. The sugar in complex carbohydrates is slowly released as the food passes through the gastrointestinal tract. As the sugar is being slowly released, it is also being metabolized by cells within the body at a similar rate. As a result, it is not necessary for the pancreas to secrete as much insulin because there is no spike in blood sugar that needs to be controlled.

Despite the overwhelming evidence, some skeptical health care professionals insist that avoiding sugar makes no difference because everything we consume has sugar in it. Although it is true that virtually everything we eat contains some sugar, this simple logic is completely incorrect and demonstrates a lack of understanding of the mechanism. The sugar is not directly stimulating the growth of cancer, but there is no question that our body’s response to sugar does stimulate cancer.

Sugar, Inflammation and Recurrence

There are several key metabolic changes that occur in the body when exposed to simple sugars such as in candy. High levels of sugar in the blood seem to inhibit the function of the immune system and stimulate inflammation5,6. This inflammation is not localized; it is a true systemic inflammatory response. There are countless studies which strongly suggest that chronic inflammation is a significant factor in the development and in the progression of cancer. This inflammatory response makes it easier for cancer cells to evade detection by the immune system and it enhances the rate of spread. Any effective cancer treatment plan must address systemic inflammation and make a significant effort to control it in a balanced way.

Obviously when fighting cancer, it is critical to use every tool at your disposal to keep the immune system strong so that it can focus on the task at hand. Hyperglycemia (high levels of sugar in the blood) inhibits the function of the immune system on a number of different levels. It is important to recognize that this immune suppressing effect is not something that would be readily detected from any blood work. The number of white blood cells and neutrophils in the blood will remain the same however; these cells will not be working as effectively. The immune cells will not attack cancer cells as effectively when they are exposed to high levels of sugar.

It is logical that if sugar inhibits the immune system and stimulates inflammation, then you would expect high levels of sugar to be associated with an increased cancer risk. The correlation between high glycemic diets and cancer risk is well established. It is essential that patients looking to prevent recurrence of cancer adhere to a low glycemic diet. There was a recent study conducted on women with a history of breast cancer. In this study researchers looked for a connection between fasting blood glucose levels and risk of cancer recurrence. There was a strong correlation between high fasting blood glucose levels and cancer recurrence7. In other words, the women who consistently had high levels of sugar in their blood had a higher risk of developing cancer. This is really not surprising given what we know about the relationship between sugar and cancer.

The connection between sugar and cancer is both logical and well supported by data. What can be done to decrease the levels of sugar in the blood? There are a number of different pharmaceutical options, the most common being Metformin, which is associated with a decreased cancer risk (although the mechanism for this anti-cancer effect may not be related to sugar). The safest approach is making modifications to your diet so that you are not putting large amounts of sugar into your body in the first place. Start reading labels and become familiar with the foods that you are putting into your body. If it looks sugary and tastes sugary, then it is probably sugary and it is best to avoid it. The first step is very obvious; avoid putting simple sugars into your body. Beyond dietary controls there are a number of different pharmaceutical options, the most common being Metformin, which is associated with a decreased cancer risk (although the mechanism for this anticancer effect may not be related to sugar).

Another helpful dietary change is increasing your fibre intake. When you consume fibre, it essentially slows the release of sugar into the blood stream. This results in less insulin being secreted and consequently less stimulation of any residual cancer cells. The data on fibre consumption and cancer prevention is mixed but generally positive. In one large study on fibre intake and breast cancer recurrence (known as the HEAL cohort), it was determined that fibre decreased risk of recurrence, but the improvement was not considered statistically significant7. Another study concluded that higher levels of fibre consumption provided significant benefit to overall survival, but this benefit was not necessarily related to cancer8.

Many patients immediately focus on avoiding gluten when they get the diagnosis of cancer. It is important to mention that avoiding gluten is not usually a critical component of a diet designed to fight cancer. Generally speaking you want to avoid foods that will stimulate inflammation in the body and in some people consumption of gluten certainly triggers a systemic inflammatory response. In these patients who are sensitive to gluten they should certainly make an effort to avoid it. In those who are not particularly sensitive to gluten, going gluten free is not the number one priority. We have to focus on getting the essential nutrients into the cells so that they can more effectively fight the cancer.

It is also worth pointing out that many of the gluten free foods are very high in sugar. In many of the better-tasting gluten free products, there are significant amounts of sugar added. In the context of cancer, this added sugar will cause more problems than any benefit that would be gained from the absence of gluten. If avoiding gluten makes you feel healthier and more vital, then by all means, avoid it. It is critical to recognize that just because it is gluten free does not mean that it is healthy. You need to make a conscious effort to avoid sugar and read the labels of the foods that you are putting into your body.

The sugar content of fruits is generally not a concern. In my experience, most patients could benefit from having more fruits in their diet. Any negative impact from the sugar in fruits is far outweighed by the positive effects of the nutrients and the natural antioxidants. There are some fruits which are exceptionally rich in sugar. These sugar rich fruits such as mangos, kiwis, bananas and dried fruits should be consumed in moderation. It can be helpful to look at the glycemic load (not the glycemic index) of your favourite fruits and modify your diet accordingly to reduce your intake of sugar. It is not necessary to strictly avoid these sugar rich fruits but by eating them in moderation you can substantially reduce your overall sugar consumption.

The bottom line is that it is not hard to connect the dots. When you consume high levels of sugar, it has a number of effects on the body. It promotes inflammation, weakens the immune system and stimulates the growth of cancerous cells. If patients consume a low glycemic diet, then they are less likely to develop cancer and any cancer cells that are present will not grow as quickly. Fibre helps to further enhance a low glycemic diet by reducing your body’s response to sugar. At the end of the day the goal is to develop a diet plan that you can maintain for the rest of your life. There is no benefit adhering to a strict diet for only a short period of time. When it comes to cancer prevention, it is best to develop a simple and sustainable long-term treatment plan that you can easily maintain.

Dr. Adam McLeod is a Naturopathic Doctor (ND), BSc. (Hon) Molecular biology, First Nations Healer, Motivational Speaker and International Best Selling Author.
He currently practices at his clinic, Yaletown Naturopathic Clinic, in Vancouver, BC where he focuses on integrative oncology.

References:
1) Augustin, L. S. A., et al. “Dietary glycemic index and glycemic load, and breast cancer risk: a case-control study.” Annals of Oncology 12.11 (2001): 1533-1538.

2) Franceschi, S., et al. “Dietary glycemic load and colorectal cancer risk.” Annals of Oncology 12.2 (2001): 173-178.

3) Michaud, Dominique S., et al. “Dietary sugar, glycemic load, and pancreatic cancer risk in a prospective study.” Journal of the National Cancer Institute 94.17 (2002): 1293-1300.

4) Gnagnarella, Patrizia, et al. “Glycemic index, glycemic load, and cancer risk: a meta-analysis.” The American journal of clinical nutrition 87.6 (2008): 1793-1801.

5) Qi, Lu, and Frank B. Hu. “Dietary glycemic load, whole grains, and systemic inflammation in diabetes: the epidemiological evidence.” Current opinion in lipidology 18.1 (2007): 3-8.

6) Turina, Matthias, Donald E. Fry, and Hiram C. Polk Jr. “Acute hyperglycemia and the innate immune system: clinical, cellular, and molecular aspects.” Critical care medicine 33.7 (2005): 1624-1633.

7) Belle, Fabiën N., et al. “Dietary fiber, carbohydrates, glycemic index, and glycemic load in relation to breast cancer prognosis in the HEAL cohort.” Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention 20.5 (2011): 890-899.

8) Kroenke, Candyce H., et al. “Dietary patterns and survival after breast cancer diagnosis.” Journal of clinical oncology 23.36 (2005): 9295-9303.

9) Contiero, Paolo, et al. “Fasting blood glucose and long-term prognosis of non-metastatic breast cancer: a cohort study.” Breast cancer research and treatment 138.3 (2013): 951-959.

Intravenous Alpha Lipoic Acid July 30, 2015

Posted by Dreamhealer in Healing.
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Intravenous ALA
Written by Dr. Adam McLeod, ND, BSc (Hons)

Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA) is an antioxidant that has been used for decades to help with nerve related symptoms of diabetes. It can also be used to treat a long list of conditions including cancer. ALA is a unique antioxidant because due to its molecular structure, it can act as both a fat-soluble and water-soluble antioxidant. This unique property makes ALA a critical component of the antioxidant network. It seems that at high doses, it helps to prevent cell damage and it rapidly regenerates the supply of vitamin E and C.

ALA can either be taken orally or through intravenous therapy. The oral form is well absorbed if it contains the pure R form. The S form of alpha lipoic acid is poorly absorbed and it does not have the same positive effects. It is critical that the oral supplementation consists of the pure R form if you expect to get any positive benefits. When ALA is given intravenously, it is not necessary to differentiate between the R and S form because it is being infused directly into the blood stream. It is important to point out that ALA is very sensitive to light; therefore, the IV bag and the line must be protected from ultraviolet (UV) rays. There are some special bags and lines that are opague which have UV filters. Most clinics simply wrap the line and the bag in tin foil to preserve the ALA while it is being infused.

The intravenous route allows much higher doses of ALA to be administered, and it is these higher doses that are linked to an anti-cancer effect. It appears that ALA triggers mitochondrial respiration and induces apoptosis in cancerous cells29. There are a number of reported cases of long-term disease stabilization with ALA and low dose naltrexone in patients with metastatic pancreatic cancer30,31. The exact mechanism for this effect is not known, but in addition to increasing mitochondrial reactive oxygen species, it has also been documented as a p53 activator in cancerous cells32. p53 is a tumour suppressor that is commonly inactivated in cancerous cells. By activating this molecule, it triggers programmed cell death in these abnormal cells. At higher doses ALA will compete with B-vitamins (particularly biotin) and this can cause a deficiency if patients are not adequately supported.

Chemotherapy can be hard on the nervous system, and it is not uncommon for patients to develop neuropathy. This can manifest as a sensation of tingling, burning or pain in the hands and feet. Once this neuropathy develops during chemotherapy, it is often irreversible. Recent research indicates that ALA can improve the function and conduction of neurons. This property makes ALA an ideal candidate for nerve support during chemotherapy28. In patients who have neuropathy prior to starting chemotherapy, it is very important to be proactive with nerve supports. IV ALA can help to support the nerves and reduce the risk of neuropathy developing or progressing during chemotherapy. Due to the fact that ALA is an antioxidant, it is not safe with all chemotherapy protocols. However, there are some chemotherapy regimens where its use is very safe and effective.

There are a couple of important details that must be considered when giving patients intravenous alpha lipoic acid. The ALA will potentiate insulin so you must be cautious when administering this to diabetic patients. Although it is not a contraindication to diabetes, you must carefully monitor their blood sugar before you start any infusion. It cannot be mixed with other compounds or it will form precipitates in the bag. It should be administered in a separate bag and the line should be flushed if another solution was given beforehand. For optimal absorption (and safety), it is critical that the ALA be put in a non-ionic solution such as D5W.

Dr. Adam McLeod is a Naturopathic Doctor (ND), BSc. (Hon) Molecular biology, First Nations Healer, Motivational Speaker and International Best Selling Author. He currently practices at his clinic in Vancouver, British Columbia where he focuses on integrative oncology. Yaletown Naturopathic Clinic in Vancouver, BC is one such clinic that offers this service.

References:
Gedlicka, C., et al. “Effective treatment of oxaliplatin-induced cumulative polyneuropathy with alpha-lipoic acid.” Journal of clinical oncology 20.15 (2002): 3359-3361.
Wenzel, U., A. Nickel, and H. Daniel. “α-lipoic acid induces apoptosis in human colon cancer cells by increasing mitochondrial respiration with a concomitant O2−.-generation.” Apoptosis 10.2 (2005): 359-368.
Berkson, Burton M., Daniel M. Rubin, and Arthur J. Berkson. “The long-term survival of a patient with pancreatic cancer with metastases to the liver after treatment with the intravenous α-lipoic acid/low-dose naltrexone protocol.” Integrative cancer therapies 5.1 (2006): 83-89.

Berkson, Burton M., Daniel M. Rubin, and Arthur J. Berkson. “Revisiting the ALA/N (α-Lipoic Acid/Low-Dose Naltrexone) protocol for people with metastatic and nonmetastatic pancreatic cancer: a report of 3 new cases.” Integrative cancer therapies 8.4 (2009): 416-422.
Simbula, G., et al. “Increased ROS generation and p53 activation in α-lipoic acid-induced apoptosis of hepatoma cells.” Apoptosis 12.1 (2007): 113-123.

Mistletoe the Parasite July 13, 2015

Posted by Dreamhealer in cancer therapy, Naturopathic Medicine.
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Mistletoe

Written by: Dr. Adam McLeod, ND, BSc(Hon)

Mistletoe is a parasitic plant that directly derives almost all of its nutrition from other flowering plants. By parasitizing other plants, they have a competitive advantage over many other forms of life because they do not have to compete in soil for their water and nutrient needs. This description of mistletoe sounds surprisingly similar to how cancer operates. When you look at mistletoe growing on a tree it looks very much like a tumour. Cancer gets all of its nutrition from other cells within the human body and it has a competitive advantage because it does not abide by the same rules as other cells in the body.

It turns out the mistletoe can be used to effectively treat cancer, even in advanced cases1,2,3. In North America this is often considered a “fringe treatment” yet if you go to Germany this is a mainstream therapy that is well established by the scientific community. The use of mistletoe dramatically reduces the side effects associated with chemotherapy and radiation. The effects are so dramatic that some countries have already made this the standard of care for cancer treatment. The use of mistletoe as the new standard of care was of huge financial benefit to these countries because of the significant decrease in complications from chemotherapy and radiation.

Although there are several different ways to administer mistletoe, the most common is regular subcutaneous injections. This involves the use of small insulin needles and injecting the mistletoe just under the skin. After injecting the mistletoe lectins the immune system immediately begins to attack the injected fluid resulting in a small red rash around the injection site. This immune activation is an excellent outcome in the context of cancer. By activating the immune system at the site of injection it consequently activates the immune system in the entire body.

Mistletoe has been shown to stimulate increases in the number and the activity of several types of white blood cells4. Immune-system-enhancing cytokines, such as interleukin-1, interleukin-6, and tumor necrosis factor -alpha, are released by white blood cells after exposure to mistletoe extracts5,6. Other evidence suggests that mistletoe exerts its cytotoxic effects by interfering with protein synthesis in target cells and by inducing apoptosis7.

Just like any cancer therapy it is essential that it is used in the right context. When this therapy is used there will initially be a swelling of the tumour, this is a consequence of the immune activation. If there are any detectable masses contained within the skull, then clearly swelling is not desirable. Mistletoe therapy is contraindicated in patients that have any detectable mass in the brain. It also must be used with caution on patients that are are cachexic and malnourished. The sudden release of cytokines associated with immune activation can worsen the malnourished state.

Mistletoe therapy only costs approximately $250 dollars per month and it can be used in conjunction with other medical therapies. I regularly use mistletoe with my patients at the clinic and it is an effective cancer therapy when used appropriately. On a regular basis I see patients improve when they use this therapy as part of a comprehensive integrative cancer therapy. Contact Yaletown Naturopathic Clinic to see if this is the right therapy for you.

Dr. Adam McLeod is a Naturopathic Doctor (ND), BSc. (Hon) Molecular biology, First Nations Healer, Motivational Speaker and International Best Selling Author. He currently practices at his clinic in Vancouver, British Columbia where he focuses on integrative oncology. http://www.yaletownnaturopathic.com

References:
1. Mistletoe. In: Murray MT: The Healing Power of Herbs. Roseville, Calif: Prima Publishing, 1995, pp 253-9.

2. Samtleben R, Hajto T, Hostanska K, et al.: Mistletoe lectins as immunostimulants (chemistry, pharmacology and clinic). In: Wagner H, ed.: Immunomodulatory Agents from Plants. Basel, Switzerland: Birkhauser Verlag, 1999, pp 223-41.

3. Hajto T, Lanzrein C: Natural killer and antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity activities and large granular lymphocyte frequencies in Viscum album-treated breast cancer patients. Oncology 43 (2): 93-7, 1986.

4. Büssing A, Regnery A, Schweizer K: Effects of Viscum album L. on cyclophosphamide-treated peripheral blood mononuclear cells in vitro: sister chromatid exchanges and activation/proliferation marker expression. Cancer Lett 94 (2): 199-205, 1995.

5. Hajto T: Immunomodulatory effects of iscador: a Viscum album preparation. Oncology 43 (Suppl 1): 51-65, 1986.

6. Hajto T, Hostanska K, Frei K, et al.: Increased secretion of tumor necrosis factors alpha, interleukin 1, and interleukin 6 by human mononuclear cells exposed to beta-galactoside-specific lectin from clinically applied mistletoe extract. Cancer Res 50 (11): 3322-6, 1990.

7. Mengs U, Schwarz T, Bulitta M, et al.: Antitumoral effects of an intravesically applied aqueous mistletoe extract on urinary bladder carcinoma MB49 in mice. Anticancer Res 20 (5B ): 3565-8, 2000 Sep- Oct.

Glycemic Levels and Cancer Recurrence July 9, 2015

Posted by Dreamhealer in Healing.
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glycemic and cancer

Written By: Dr. Adam McLeod, ND, BSc (Hons)

I tell virtually every cancer patient that they should avoid sugar as much as possible. Some doctors insist that sugar has no effect on cancer. This is simply not what the scientific literature states. If you are trying to fight cancer or prevent the recurrence of cancer, then you should make an effort to reduce your sugar intake.

Study after study has demonstrated a direct connection between sugar intake and cancer risk1,2,3,4,5. There are a wide range of cancers which are associated with increased sugar intake. Cancer cells often have significantly more insulin receptors than normal cells. In other words, they respond very rapidly to insulin and they will always be more effective at grabbing sugar from the blood stream and utilizing it as an energy source. Cancer cells will always grab the sugar before normal cells due to this fundamental shift in their metabolism.

The sugar acts as a direct source of energy for the cancer cells. These abnormal cells are often dependent on a constant supply of sugar, which is pushed through anaerobic glycolysis to provide them with energy. Essentially the sugar acts as fuel which directly stimulates the growth of cancerous cells. The fundamental challenge is that normal cells also require sugar and it is simply not possible to eliminate sugar completely.

It turns out that although sugar acts as fuel to cancer cells, the mechanism for the enhanced tumour growth from sugar is different than you would expect. There is a big difference in the metabolism of a food rich in simple sugars compared to a food that contains complex carbohydrates. When you eat a food rich in simple sugars such as candy, the body rapidly absorbs the sugar. This causes a rapid and significant elevation of the sugar concentration in your blood. In response to this sugar spike, the pancreas secretes insulin, which circulates through the entire body in an effort to bring the sugar levels back to normal.

Insulin interacts with the receptors on the surface of both normal and cancerous cells. Upon interacting with the cells, it helps them to pull sugar in from the blood until the blood sugar level drops back to a normal level. Remember that cancer cells have more insulin receptors, so they will always take advantage of this insulin spike more effectively than normal cells. It is this spike in insulin and insulin-like growth factors that stimulate the growth of cancerous cells2. In other words, it is not the sugar content that is stimulating growth; it is the response to sudden increases in sugar levels.

Complex carbohydrates are metabolized very differently in the body. They do not cause a sudden spike in blood sugar levels. The sugar in complex carbohydrates is slowly released as the food passes through the gastrointestinal tract. As the sugar is being slowly released, it is also being metabolized by cells within the body at a similar rate. As a result, it is not necessary for the pancreas to secrete as much insulin because there is no spike in blood sugar that needs to be controlled.

Despite the overwhelming evidence, some skeptical health care professionals insist that avoiding sugar makes no difference because everything we consume has sugar in it. Although it is true that virtually everything we eat contains some sugar, this simple logic is completely incorrect and demonstrates a lack of understanding of the mechanism. The sugar is not directly stimulating the growth of cancer, but there is no question that our body’s response to sugar does stimulate cancer.

Sugar, Inflammation and Recurrence

There are several key metabolic changes that occur in the body when exposed to simple sugars such as in candy. High levels of sugar in the blood seem to inhibit the function of the immune system and stimulate inflammation5,6. This inflammation is not localized; it is a true systemic inflammatory response. There are countless studies which strongly suggest that chronic inflammation is a significant factor in the development and in the progression of cancer. This inflammatory response makes it easier for cancer cells to evade detection by the immune system and it enhances the rate of spread. Any effective cancer treatment plan must address systemic inflammation and make a significant effort to control it in a balanced way.

Obviously when fighting cancer, it is critical to use every tool at your disposal to keep the immune system strong so that it can focus on the task at hand. Hyperglycemia (high levels of sugar in the blood) inhibits the function of the immune system on a number of different levels. It is important to recognize that this immune suppressing effect is not something that would be readily detected from any blood work. The number of white blood cells and neutrophils in the blood will remain the same however; these cells will not be working as effectively. The immune cells will not attack cancer cells as effectively when they are exposed to high levels of sugar.

It is logical that if sugar inhibits the immune system and stimulates inflammation, then you would expect high levels of sugar to be associated with an increased cancer risk. The correlation between high glycemic diets and cancer risk is well established. It is essential that patients looking to prevent recurrence of cancer adhere to a low glycemic diet. There was a recent study conducted on women with a history of breast cancer. In this study researchers looked for a connection between fasting blood glucose levels and risk of cancer recurrence. There was a strong correlation between high fasting blood glucose levels and cancer recurrence7. In other words, the women who consistently had high levels of sugar in their blood had a higher risk of developing cancer. This is really not surprising given what we know about the relationship between sugar and cancer.

The connection between sugar and cancer is both logical and well supported by data. What can be done to decrease the levels of sugar in the blood? There are a number of different pharmaceutical options, the most common being Metformin, which is associated with a decreased cancer risk (although the mechanism for this anti-cancer effect may not be related to sugar). The safest approach is making modifications to your diet so that you are not putting large amounts of sugar into your body in the first place. Start reading labels and become familiar with the foods that you are putting into your body. If it looks sugary and tastes sugary, then it is probably sugary and it is best to avoid it. The first step is very obvious; avoid putting simple sugars into your body. Beyond dietary controls there are a number of different pharmaceutical options, the most common being Metformin, which is associated with a decreased cancer risk (although the mechanism for this anticancer effect may not be related to sugar).

Another helpful dietary change is increasing your fibre intake. When you consume fibre, it essentially slows the release of sugar into the blood stream. This results in less insulin being secreted and consequently less stimulation of any residual cancer cells. The data on fibre consumption and cancer prevention is mixed but generally positive. In one large study on fibre intake and breast cancer recurrence (known as the HEAL cohort), it was determined that fibre decreased risk of recurrence, but the improvement was not considered statistically significant7. Another study concluded that higher levels of fibre consumption provided significant benefit to overall survival, but this benefit was not necessarily related to cancer8.

Many patients immediately focus on avoiding gluten when they get the diagnosis of cancer. It is important to mention that avoiding gluten is not usually a critical component of a diet designed to fight cancer. Generally speaking you want to avoid foods that will stimulate inflammation in the body and in some people consumption of gluten certainly triggers a systemic inflammatory response. In these patients who are sensitive to gluten they should certainly make an effort to avoid it. In those who are not particularly sensitive to gluten, going gluten free is not the number one priority. We have to focus on getting the essential nutrients into the cells so that they can more effectively fight the cancer.

It is also worth pointing out that many of the gluten free foods are very high in sugar. In many of the better-tasting gluten free products, there are significant amounts of sugar added. In the context of cancer, this added sugar will cause more problems than any benefit that would be gained from the absence of gluten. If avoiding gluten makes you feel healthier and more vital, then by all means, avoid it. It is critical to recognize that just because it is gluten free does not mean that it is healthy. You need to make a conscious effort to avoid sugar and read the labels of the foods that you are putting into your body.

The sugar content of fruits is generally not a concern. In my experience, most patients could benefit from having more fruits in their diet. Any negative impact from the sugar in fruits is far outweighed by the positive effects of the nutrients and the natural antioxidants. There are some fruits which are exceptionally rich in sugar. These sugar rich fruits such as mangos, kiwis, bananas and dried fruits should be consumed in moderation. It can be helpful to look at the glycemic load (not the glycemic index) of your favourite fruits and modify your diet accordingly to reduce your intake of sugar. It is not necessary to strictly avoid these sugar rich fruits but by eating them in moderation you can substantially reduce your overall sugar consumption.

The bottom line is that it is not hard to connect the dots. When you consume high levels of sugar, it has a number of effects on the body. It promotes inflammation, weakens the immune system and stimulates the growth of cancerous cells. If patients consume a low glycemic diet, then they are less likely to develop cancer and any cancer cells that are present will not grow as quickly. Fibre helps to further enhance a low glycemic diet by reducing your body’s response to sugar. At the end of the day the goal is to develop a diet plan that you can maintain for the rest of your life. There is no benefit adhering to a strict diet for only a short period of time. When it comes to cancer prevention, it is best to develop a simple and sustainable long-term treatment plan that you can easily maintain.

Dr. Adam McLeod is a Naturopathic Doctor (ND), BSc. (Hon) Molecular biology, First Nations Healer, Motivational Speaker and International Best Selling Author.
He currently practices at his clinic, Yaletown Naturopathic Clinic, in Vancouver, BC where he focuses on integrative oncology.

References:
1) Augustin, L. S. A., et al. “Dietary glycemic index and glycemic load, and breast cancer risk: a case-control study.” Annals of Oncology 12.11 (2001): 1533-1538.

2) Franceschi, S., et al. “Dietary glycemic load and colorectal cancer risk.” Annals of Oncology 12.2 (2001): 173-178.

3) Michaud, Dominique S., et al. “Dietary sugar, glycemic load, and pancreatic cancer risk in a prospective study.” Journal of the National Cancer Institute 94.17 (2002): 1293-1300.

4) Gnagnarella, Patrizia, et al. “Glycemic index, glycemic load, and cancer risk: a meta-analysis.” The American journal of clinical nutrition 87.6 (2008): 1793-1801.

5) Qi, Lu, and Frank B. Hu. “Dietary glycemic load, whole grains, and systemic inflammation in diabetes: the epidemiological evidence.” Current opinion in lipidology 18.1 (2007): 3-8.

6) Turina, Matthias, Donald E. Fry, and Hiram C. Polk Jr. “Acute hyperglycemia and the innate immune system: clinical, cellular, and molecular aspects.” Critical care medicine 33.7 (2005): 1624-1633.

7) Belle, Fabiën N., et al. “Dietary fiber, carbohydrates, glycemic index, and glycemic load in relation to breast cancer prognosis in the HEAL cohort.” Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention 20.5 (2011): 890-899.

8) Kroenke, Candyce H., et al. “Dietary patterns and survival after breast cancer diagnosis.” Journal of clinical oncology 23.36 (2005): 9295-9303.

9) Contiero, Paolo, et al. “Fasting blood glucose and long-term prognosis of non-metastatic breast cancer: a cohort study.” Breast cancer research and treatment 138.3 (2013): 951-959.

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