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Naturopathic Medicine Should be a First Resort, Not a Last Resort July 14, 2016

Posted by Dreamhealer in best vancouver naturopath, Cancer, cancer therapy, Cancer Treatment, Healing, integrative cancer care, Naturopathic Doctor, Naturopathic Medicine.
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Written By: Dr. Adam McLeod, ND, BSc (Hons)

With any treatment plan the goal is to always use the least invasive therapy first before considering more aggressive invasive therapy. This makes it more likely that the health concern can be effectively treated without harming the patient. If someone has a mild infection that can be easily treated with a well tolerated low dose oral antibiotic then it makes sense to use this prior to trying high dose intravenous antibiotics that are more likely to cause complications. This rationale is common sense.

When faced with a diagnosis of cancer, patients are often overwhelmed with information and this can scare them into immediately resorting to the most aggressive treatment plan possible and in the process natural therapies are dismissed out of fear. In many cases, only after all conventional options have been exhausted do they seek integrative care. This is not the ideal time to integrate natural therapies into the plan as the bodies immune system is often severely weakened at this point in time. Naturopathic medicine should be integrated into the plan from the first day of diagnosis.

I am not in any way suggesting that patients should be avoiding conventional care. The evidence is clear, patients do better when they have an integrative health care team. This means that conventional and natural therapies are used together in a synergistic manner. After consulting with their oncologist, some patients are left with the impression that there is no evidence to support any therapy beyond what is being recommended. This could not be further from the truth. These therapies have hundreds of peer reviewed studies and depending on where you are in the world they can be the standard of care. In many major cancer centres in the USA, naturopathic doctors are now working in hospitals along side medical oncologists and patients are doing better as a result.

Naturopathic medicine can be very effective at supporting the immune system and reducing side effects during conventional cancer therapies. You can do all the chemotherapy in the world but if you do not have a functioning immune system to clean up the metabolic mess then it will not be a successful plan. This is where naturopathic medicine excels and it should be used from day one. It is not unusual for me to have patients at my office using the strongest and most toxic chemotherapy that medicine has to offer, and they breeze through it with minimal side effects.

It is critical to recognize that you must have professional guidance when developing an integrative treatment plan. Do not take advice from friends or the internet and start taking a supplement because you heard it was good for cancer. Not all cancers are the same and there are legitimate interactions that you must be aware of. Only a naturopathic doctor who works with oncology will be able to help you develop a targeted and effective treatment plan that is indicated for your unique health circumstances. Working with a naturopathic doctor also makes it possible to have true integrative care where multiple health care practitioners are working collaboratively on your case.

You do not have to take these supplements in secret. If you desire an integrative treatment plan then your naturopathic doctor should be making an effort to reach out to your oncologist to inform them about what you are taking. When oncologists are provided with information about what you are taking and why, they are often happy to work collaboratively. Both naturopathic medicine and conventional medicine have a lot that they can offer patients. The ideal treatment plan does not have to be one extreme where the other healthcare practitioners are completely disregarded. The most effective plan is a collaborative integrative plan that is developed based on the best available scientific evidence. Integrating naturopathic medicine with conventional medicine should be every patients first resort, not their last.

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

Breakthrough in Early Cancer Detection July 11, 2016

Posted by Dreamhealer in best vancouver naturopath, Cancer, cancer prevention, cancer therapy, Cancer Treatment, Healing, immune system, immunity, integrative cancer care.
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There is no question that the future of oncology will be focused around early detection of cancer cells. If we can detect these cells at an extremely early stage then it will be possible to cure the cancer before it manifests as a clinical disease. At this point in time there is no single test that is guaranteed to detect cancer at these early stages but there are several tests that are showing great promise.

One such test is known as the Oncoblot test which has been demonstrated as a reliable detector of early stage cancer in several studies1,2. This test analyzes the blood for the presence of ENOX2 which is a protein often released into the blood stream via cancerous cells. These proteins are detectable before any scan would be able to identify an abnormal mass. A mass of several millions of cancer cells would be far too small for any scan to detect but these cells would be releasing significant levels of this protein which this test could potentially identify.

Not only does this test identify the presence of cancer in these early stages, it can often identify the tissue of origin based off of variations in the protein. In other words, the test also identifies the most likely area where these abnormal cells are growing. It is clear that in the near future oncology will rely heavily on these types of tests to proactively treat cancer.

It is important to point out that no test is 100% and tests such as the Oncoblot are not intended to be used in patients as a replacement for conventional screening. It should be used together with conventional screening. This test is often used several months post surgery to assess for the presence of residual cancer cells. For example, following the removal of a cancer and when given the all clear diagnosis, patients are often left with the constant fear of recurrence. Conventional screening will only be able to detect a mass when it has grown to a clinically significant size. This test can help to detect the presence of cancerous cells far earlier and can help to justify a more aggressive treatment plan. Another test which can be helpful in these circumstances is the circulating tumour cells test, which directly detects cancerous cells in the blood stream following a surgery3.

In patients with a family history of cancer, these tests provide an additional way to test for the early development of cancer. This can potentially identify the cancer far sooner than any CT scan or MRI. The controversy about this test is not about the reliability, it is about what to do with this information. The vast majority of clinical trials look at how chemotherapy and radiation impact masses that are detectable on scans. These protocols are generally not designed to work with cancer that is only detectable in the blood via these markers. As a consequence it is difficult to assess the effectiveness of a conventional therapy if we cannot “see” what we are fighting. This is the reason why these tests are not covered by MSP.

There is a growing interest in the mainstream oncology community to use these tests and proactively treat cancer before it has the opportunity to progress. Once the cancer is identified we can also support the immune system using natural tools so that your body is more likely to identify and engage these cells. A truly integrative plan can help to get all the necessary information and develop the most effective treatment plan possible.

These tests are regularly run at Yaletown Naturopathic Clinic in Vancouver, BC and they can provide patients with the critical information necessary to make informed decisions about their integrative cancer 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. Morré, D. James, et al. “ENOX2-based early detection (ONCOblot) of asbestos-induced malignant mesothelioma 4–10 years in advance of clinical symptoms.” Clinical Proteomics 13.1 (2016): 1.
  2. Morré, D. James, and David J. Taggart. “ONCOblot consistently detects State 0 and Stage 1 cancers and correctly identifies the tissue of origin.” ONCOblot Reports 1.4 (2015): 1-2.
  3. Zhang, Liling, et al. “Meta-analysis of the prognostic value of circulating tumor cells in breast cancer.” Clinical Cancer Research18.20 (2012): 5701-5710.

What You Need to Know about Parabens! June 30, 2016

Posted by Dreamhealer in best vancouver naturopath, Cancer, Healing, Health.
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Every day we are constantly bombarded with with headlines, articles and people giving us advice on what we should and shouldn’t be doing for our health. Often one article seems to directly contradict the one you read last week. It’s a struggle to keep up with whats good and whats not. If you’re like me a lot of it goes in one ear and out the other. Sometimes you will see “paraben free” written on a cosmetic bottle. I never went to too much trouble to avoid them though – mostly because I never bothered to educate myself about why they were something one should steer clear of. I recently took the time to educate myself on this matter. Here is what I learned.

What is a paraben anyway?

Parabens are a preservative found in cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and also many food products. They have bacterial and fungicidal properties. Without some sort of preservative your cosmetics would become overloaded with bacteria, fungus and mould which would firstly be gross and also potentially cause infections. The mode of action of parabens is actually not fully understood- it is thought to be disrupting membrane transport processes in cells or inhibiting cells from making DNA and RNA (which cells need to do in order to divide and multiply). There are many different forms of parabens but look out for these ones in particular on your lotion, shampoo, antiperspirant/deodorant, suncream, perfume and baby products etc.- methylparaben or E218, ethylparaben or E214, propylparaben E216, butylparaben, heptylparaben or E209.

Where would I find parabens?

Parabens are everywhere. Recent studies show that parabens are found in 99% of leave on cosmetic products and 74% of wash off ones. Estimates vary but certainly the vast majority of cosmetics (75-90%) contain some parabens. Staggeringly, cosmetics and the chemicals they contain are less regulated and under less stringent testing than other chemicals we are exposed to. This is particularly alarming because cosmetics represent the most common form of chemical exposure for most of us. Adverse reactions to chemicals in cosmetics are surprisingly high at 17.4% for men and 26.5% for women according to one study.

Should I worry about parabens? Why?

Another place to find parabens? In you! It is well established that parabens are present in human urine and serum. They are so prevalent that they have even been found in household dust. When ingested, parabens are broken down into metabolites. However even this route can cause health problems which I will discuss later in this article. Scientists have also recently been able to prove that parabens can enter the body through the skin. When they are absorbed topically through this route from your cosmetics parabens are not broken down by the digestive system and enter the bloodstream, and thus the rest of your body, whole. They have been detected in serum after just one application of cream and in urine within 8-12 hours. They have also been found in breast milk. A 2004 study found the 5 most commonly used parabens were present in human breast cancer cells. This is really what began the whole debate about parabens. There are no studies at this time to directly implicate parabens as a factor in breast cancer and as always more research is needed to prove or disprove this theory. However, there are some things we do know for sure about parabens and their action within the body which would indicate that we should think twice before using a product that contains them.

Parabens have estrogenic properties. Estrogenic means promoting or producing estrogen (female sex hormones). These chemicals mimic estrogen in the body. As previously mentioned there are many different types of parabens and they each have varying effects but all widely used parabens have been shown to possess estrogenic activity. Estrogen is integral to sexual and reproductive health. It also affects many other tissues in the body including skin, bones and cardiovascular system. It has been shown to have a central role in breast cancer.

The presence of alcohol in cosmetics alongside parabens inhibits their breakdown further and ethanol changes methylparaben to butylparaben which is even more estrogenic.

Parabens bind to human androgen (male sex hormone) receptors and antagonize the action of testosterone on gene expression. Studies on rats show that parabens when taken orally caused alterations in male reproductive function. This may be due to their affect on testosterone or the estrogenic effect. There is a confirmed link between male exposure to parabens through the digestive route either during gestation or very early life (remember they can enter the breast milk) and reproductive disorders.In the last 50 years there has been in increase in male reproductive problems including reduced sperm quality and testicular cancer. There is no hard evidence to directly link this to topical absorption of parabens but this certainly warrants further research. Especially considering the ubiquitous use of baby products containing parabens by unsuspecting mothers. Many of these creams and lotions are used on and around the areas where male reproductive hormones are. If topical absorption of parabens is a potential problem then they are being absorbed in the worst possible part of the body.

There is also some discussion around the possibility of parabens’ estrogenic activity in the skin being linked to increasing rates of melanoma. Estrogen activity in the body is linked to cancer and some hypothesize that parabens in cosmetics and particularly those exposed to sunlight which can cause oxidative stress in the skin and could cause cancer. The increasing rate of melanoma in young people and inverse relationship with social deprivation could correlate with greater use of paraben containing products. Remember there are parabens in most sunscreen products so the very product you use to be safe in the sun may in fact be causing cell mutations which can lead to cancer.

It is possible to buy products in the mainstream stores that are paraben free. Some of the alternative preservatives include organic acids such as benzoic acid, dehyroactetic acid, potassium sorbet, sorbic acid, sodium benzoate. Their use is limited and they are not as effective as parabens at killing bacteria. However organic acids are comparable in terms of their anti fungal and mould effects. Other alternatives include plant/herbal extracts, enzyme/substrate systems and antimicrobial peptides. The best way to avoid paragons and other harmful chemicals is to make your own cosmetics, which is easier than you might think and there are lots of websites with easy recipes.

Some would argue that the long history of safe use of parabens by the cosmetic industry surely proves that there are no negative effects on our health. This may of course be true. However it goes against my personal instincts that a chemical which has been proven to enter our bodies and mimic important hormones that affect multiple biological systems cannot cause some sort of changes. These may prove to be negligible changes but the fact remains that these effects simply have not been examined by the scientific community so there is no way for us to know. There are no studies to examine the prolonged use of multiple paraben containing products over time which, lets face it, is what the majority of us have been doing all our lives. The steady rise of breast cancer in the upper quadrant of the breast (close to where you apply your antiperspirant) is disproportionate to other areas of the breast. Reproductive health issues and skin cancer are also on the rise. These chemicals are everywhere and we should ensure that they are safe before people are exposed to them. The good news is that once parabens are withdrawn they do eventually leave the body. So if, after reading this article (and maybe more like it) and you do decide to discard all your paraben containing cosmetics you could potentially make a real difference to your health.

Reference List

  1. Paraben esters: review of recent studies of endocrine toxicity, absorption, esterase and human exposure, and discussion of potential human health risks. Darbre, P. and Harvey, W. 2008. Journal of applied toxicology.
  2. New Alternatives to paraben-based blends. Weber, K. 2005.Cosmetic and Toiletries120
  3. Effects of butyl paragon on the male reproductive system in mice. IOC, S. 2002. Arch Toxicol.
  4. Natural Alternatives for Cosmetic Preservation. Schmit, E. and Norris, K. Active concepts Feb 2015.

Weight Loss and Cancer April 28, 2016

Posted by Dreamhealer in Cancer, cancer therapy, Cancer Treatment, Healing, immunity, integrative cancer care, Naturopathic Doctor, Naturopathic Medicine, Naturopathy, nutrition.
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Written By: Dr. Adam McLeod, ND, BSc (Hons)

Everyone has seen a cancer patient who has lost a significant amount of weight as the disease progressed. It is a scary experience to see someone that you love waste away as the cancer deprives their body of the nutrients that they so desperately need. In the chaos of going from one appointment to the next, patients often do not realize how malnourished they have become.

The significant wasting that late stage cancer patients experience is known as cachexia. To understand why this happens it is helpful to look at the molecular pathways relevant to cachexia. The exact mechanism is not well defined but inflammatory cytokines are thought to play a major role. Cancer is a condition that creates significant systemic inflammation and this dramatically increases the concentration of inflammatory cytokines through out the body. The most prominent inflammatory cytokines during cachexia are often TNF-a and IL6 5.

The good news is that there are a number of natural tools which can help to significantly reduce these inflammatory cytokines. Of course there are cases where the disease has progressed to the point where it is not possible to reverse the effects of cachexia. However, in my clinical practice I have seen many patients reverse the effects of cachexia rather quickly when the correct natural supports are used. When we take the time to look at how these natural supports work it is immediately obvious why they can be so effective.

Omega-3’s are potent natural anti-inflammatories and specifically they reduce TNF-a and IL6 levels in the body1,2,3. In order to have the desired therapeutic effect from supplementation with omega-3’s it is critical that the proper dose is used. Many supplements (especially pill forms) containing omega-3’s do not have the appropriate dose of eicosapentaenoic acid(EPA) and this will not have any impact on an extreme case such as cachexia. When the appropriate dosing is used sometimes patients can see significant improvements in cachexia from supplementing with omega-3’s 4.

Cancer loves L-glutamine and it uses it in high amounts to support its metabolic needs. Some patients upon hearing this falsely assume that removing glutamine from the diet would then starve cancer cells. This is the wrong approach to take. Cancer cells will get glutamine whether you have it in your diet or not. If it is not in your diet then the cancer cells will cause the muscles to break down so that the glutamine can be extracted from the muscles. This will rapidly worsen the cachexia. The simplistic view that if cancer uses a substance then it should be avoided is not always correct in these complex clinical cases. When patients are supported with adequate amounts of glutamine this can help to slow down muscle breakdown and give healthy cells the glutamine that they also need to function6. The glutamine is also necessary for your immune system to function properly and this need far outweighs any concerns of “feeding” cancer cells glutamine in cases of cachexia.

In my experience the combination of L-glutamine and omega-3’s can help to heal the gut and this allows cancer patients to absorb nutrients more effectively from their food. A major challenge for advanced cancer patients is that even if they eat enough food, they struggle to adequately absorb nutrients from their food. By supporting gut health with adequate amounts of these simple remedies, this can help to enhance the absorption of nutrients at a time when patients are extremely malnourished.

There are many other natural therapies which can also be applied in cachexia to help improve the patients quality of life. For example, cannabinoids can be used to help stimulate appetite while reducing the sensation of nausea that many of these patients have. In other cases, the use of a Myers IV is indicated to bypass any concerns with absorption and get nutrients directly into the blood. Patients generally feel better when the inflammation is reduced following the application of these various naturopathic supports. It is critical that patients have professional guidance from a qualified naturopathic physician when utilizing these supports. Cachexia is a unique metabolic circumstance that requires the appropriate doses if you expect to see any benefit.

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) Kang, Jing X., and Karsten H. Weylandt. “Modulation of inflammatory cytokines by omega-3 fatty acids.” Lipids in Health and Disease. Springer Netherlands, 2008. 133-143.

2) De Caterina, Raffaele, et al. “The omega-3 fatty acid docosahexaenoate reduces cytokine-induced expression of proatherogenic and proinflammatory proteins in human endothelial cells.” Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology 14.11 (1994): 1829-1836.

3) Nelson, Tracy L., and Matthew S. Hickey. “Acute changes in dietary omega-3 fatty acid intake lowers soluble interleukin-6 receptor in healthy adult normal weight and overweight males.” Cytokine 26.5 (2004): 195-201.

4) Radbruch, L., F. Elsner, and P. Trottenberg. “Clinical practice guidelines on cancer cachexia in advanced cancer patients. European Palliative Care Research Collaborative.” (2011).

5) Yeh, Shing-Shing, Kimathi Blackwood, and Michael W. Schuster. “The cytokine basis of cachexia and its treatment: are they ready for prime time?.”Journal of the American Medical Directors Association 9.4 (2008): 219-236.

6) May, Patricia Eubanks, et al. “Reversal of cancer-related wasting using oral supplementation with a combination of β-hydroxy-β-methylbutyrate, arginine, and glutamine.” The American journal of surgery 183.4 (2002): 471-479.

How Can Integrative Oncology Prevent Cancer? April 14, 2016

Posted by Dreamhealer in best vancouver naturopath, Cancer, cancer therapy, Cancer Treatment, Healing.
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Written By: Dr. Adam McLeod, ND, BSc (Hons)

It seems that every week there is another headline talking about the importance of preventative medicine. These articles often focus on how much money governments could save if people were adequately screened to treat disease before it manifests into a complex clinical pathology. Clearly improved screening is important in the context of preventative medicine but this approach only allows us to detect disease at an earlier stage. What is frequently neglected is the fact that much can be done to modify your risks so that the disease will not develop in the first place. This is particularly relevant in the context of cancer.

Every day I see patients who were treated by the cancer agency before being declared cancer free. Upon being declared cancer free they are quickly discharged from the cancer agency and they are given no tools or information about how to prevent the recurrence of cancer. In fact, when patients inquire about what they can do to prevent future cancers they are directly told “nothing”. This could not be further from the truth and [the scientific literature does not support] this bizarre statement. Any doctor who claims to be practicing evidence based medicine must stop telling patients that there is nothing that they can do because this is not what the scientific literature says on the subject. There are many things that can be done to prevent the recurrence of cancer and often the proper application of only a few simple natural therapies can substantially reduce the risk of recurrence.

In this article I will break down a few simple lifestyle modifications and natural therapies which when used appropriately can help to prevent the recurrence of cancer. There are of course additional strategies that can be used to reduce the risk of recurrence and this article only discusses a couple of approaches. You must have professional guidance when implementing these therapies as they must be used in the proper clinical context. Not all cancers are the same and completely different strategies are used with different forms of cancer.

Reducing your intake of simple sugars

Study after study has demonstrated a direct connection between sugar intake and cancer risk14,15,16,17,18. Cancer cells often have significantly more insulin receptors than normal cells. Therefore they respond rapidly to insulin and they will always be more effective at grabbing sugar from the blood stream and utilizing it as an energy source.

Patients often get confused about what this information means and how it can be integrated appropriately into their diet. 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 triggers them to pull sugar in from the blood until the blood sugar level drops back to a normal level. 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 cells15. 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 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. Often by making just a few simple dietary changes it is possible to dramatically reduce these sugar spikes and eliminate hidden sources of these simple sugars.

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. In one 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 recurrence20. In other words, the women who consistently had high levels of sugar in their blood had a higher risk of developing cancer. This is not surprising given what we know about the relationship between sugar and cancer.

Supporting the Immune System

After removing cancer it is critical that your immune system remains strong to patrol the body and attack any residual cells prior to them manifesting into a clinical disease. There are many naturopathic therapies which can be used to effectively support the immune system. The first year following the removal of cancer is the most important time to stimulate the immune system.

It is absolutely essential that you have professional guidance when developing a treatment plan to support the immune system. Every cancer is different and in some cancers this is completely contraindicated. You do not have to be on many different supplements to stimulate the immune system. In fact, less is more when it comes to natural immune supports.

I always recommend that patients keep their treatment plan dynamic and simple when trying to stimulate the immune system. The reason I say this is due to the biochemistry behind these natural immune supports. Essentially we are throwing a molecule at the immune system which it does not recognize and as a result the immune system gets excited. In the process of getting excited in response to these new supplements, it also gets excited against any cancer cells that remain. The problem is that if you keep using the same supplement repeatedly for a long period of time (ie. years) then your immune system simply stops reacting to it. If you throw everything at your immune system right away then your immune system will eventually stop reacting to everything.

Natural therapies such as astragalus, coriolus versicolor and mistletoe have a long history of safe and effective use for immune stimulation. They work very well to stimulate the immune system and when used appropriately it can give your body the tools that it needs to fight of any residual remains of the disease.

Exercise and Cancer

Everyone has heard that exercise is good for your well-being. Exercise has been shown to elevate your mood and increase energy levels. Patients who regularly exercise are statistically less likely to develop a number of serious health conditions. The effectiveness of exercise is not questioned in the medical community; yet when it comes to cancer care, patients often forget about the benefits of exercise. Instead, they focus their attention on more exotic treatment plans. Exercise is an important part of any integrative cancer program.

There are several reasons why exercise has such a positive impact on cancer patients3. The immune system becomes more active during exercise as the monocytes increase the concentration of specific receptors on their surface1. Exercise also significantly helps patients with their sleep and it is well known that the majority of healing takes place during sleep. When you get better quality sleep, your cells will be less stressed and this will significantly boost the strength of your immune system.

Not only is exercise important during cancer therapies, it is also effective at preventing cancer recurrence7. Although some researchers dispute the significance of recurrence prevention, no one disputes that regular exercise decreases overall mortality in cancer survivors5,6. Women with estrogen positive breast cancer after a successful surgery will be put on tamoxifen for a minimum of five years to reduce the risk of recurrence by only a few percentage points in some cases8. In one large study of women with a history of breast cancer, it showed that women who walked three to five hours per week were 43% less likely to develop recurrent breast cancer and 50% less likely to die from breast cancer. This exercise group was compared to women who engaged in less than one hour of physical activity per week9. This study clearly demonstrates the importance of exercise in the context of cancer prevention. I find it amazing that some patients will readily comply with taking a drug for five to ten years, yet are resistant to regular exercise.

The exercise program does not need to be an extreme and rigorous routine, nor does it have to be a specific activity to prevent recurrence. All that matters is that your cardiovascular system gets a good workout from regular aerobic activity. Even a moderate cardio workout for less than 30 minutes, five days per week, can be very helpful. Make the time for this activity because it can make a significant difference in your response to treatment.

At every phase in cancer treatment, regular exercise is a powerful adjunctive therapy. Regular exercise helps to prevent the development of cancer and it also helps patients to get through the aggressive cancer therapies necessary to kill cancer. More cancer patients need to be aware of the simple fact that regular exercise makes a significant difference when fighting cancer. This is a simple yet effective adjunctive therapy that should be actively encouraged in every patient capable of regular exercise.

Meditation

You can help your body fight cancer by reducing stress and focusing your intentions on healing. One of the most comprehensive intervention studies in cancer research evaluated the effects of stress management techniques, such as relaxation on cancer recurrence following removal of malignant melanoma11. Not only did the relaxed group experience reduced psychological distress, they also had more active immune systems than the control group not practicing relaxation. A six-year follow up of these patients showed a trend toward greater recurrence and higher mortality rates in the control group, compared to the relaxed group. The bottom line is that patients who focus on reducing stress and focus their minds on healing not only have a better prognosis, they also have lower rates of developing cancer in the first place10. Given what we know about the connection between immune function and stress, this conclusion is not surprising.

If there was a drug which had a similar effect on reducing cancer recurrence, you can bet that every patient who had a melanoma surgically removed would be on that medication. The great thing about this is that you don’t even need a pill, you can make a measurable difference by reducing stress and focusing your intentions. When fighting cancer it is essential that the patient use every tool at their disposal to increase the chances of a successful recovery. The immune system must be strong to fight off any serious disease. Our minds can dramatically influence how our cells respond to stress and this is intimately connected to the function of the immune system13. We all need to take control of our health and use this mind-body connection to our advantage. By reducing stress and focusing our minds on healing we will live longer and happier lives12. This is a powerful tool that we can all use to our advantage.

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) Peters, C., et al. “Exercise, cancer and the immune response of monocytes.” Anticancer research 15.1 (1994): 175-179.

2) Mock, Victoria, et al. “Effects of exercise on fatigue, physical functioning, and emotional distress during radiation therapy for breast cancer.” Oncology nursing forum. Vol. 24. No. 6. 1997.

3) Burnham, Timothy R., and Anthony Wilcox. “Effects of exercise on physiological and psychological variables in cancer survivors.” Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise (2002).

4) Courneya, KERRY S. “Exercise in cancer survivors: an overview of research.” Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise 35.11 (2003): 1846-1852.

5) Irwin, Melinda L., et al. “Randomized controlled trial of aerobic exercise on insulin and insulin-like growth factors in breast cancer survivors: the Yale Exercise and Survivorship study.” Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention 18.1 (2009): 306-313.

6) Irwin, Melinda L., et al. “Influence of pre-and postdiagnosis physical activity on mortality in breast cancer survivors: the health, eating, activity, and lifestyle study.” Journal of clinical oncology 26.24 (2008): 3958-3964.

7) Loprinzi, Paul D., et al. “Physical activity and the risk of breast cancer recurrence: a literature review.” Oncology nursing forum. Vol. 39. No. 3. Oncology Nursing Society, 2012.

8) Early Breast Cancer Trialists’ Collaborative Group. “Relevance of breast cancer hormone receptors and other factors to the efficacy of adjuvant tamoxifen: patient-level meta-analysis of randomised trials.” The lancet 378.9793 (2011): 771-784.

9) Holmes, Michelle D., et al. “Physical activity and survival after breast cancer diagnosis.” Jama 293.20 (2005): 2479-2486.

10) Bovbjerg, Dana H. “Psychoneuroimmunology. Implications for oncology?.” Cancer 67.S3 (1991): 828-832.

11) Fawzy, Fawzy I., et al. “Malignant melanoma: effects of an early structured psychiatric intervention, coping, and affective state on recurrence and survival 6 years later.” Archives of General Psychiatry 50.9 (1993): 681-689.

12) Fawzy, Fawzy I., et al. “A structured psychiatric intervention for cancer patients: I. Changes over time in methods of coping and affective disturbance.” Archives of General Psychiatry 47.8 (1990): 720-725.

13) Veenhoven, Ruut. “Healthy happiness: Effects of happiness on physical health and the consequences for preventive health care.” Journal of happiness studies 9.3 (2008): 449-469.

14) 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.

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

16) 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.

17) 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.

18) 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.

19) 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.

20) 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.

21) Kroenke, Candyce H., et al. “Dietary patterns and survival after breast cancer diagnosis.” Journal of clinical oncology23.36 (2005): 9295-9303.

22) 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.

How to Protect Your Nerves During Chemotherapy March 10, 2016

Posted by Dreamhealer in best vancouver naturopath, Cancer, Healing.
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By: Dr. Adam McLeod, ND, BSc (Hons)

A common side effect from chemotherapy is peripheral neuropathy which manifests as painful or uncomfortable symptoms in the peripheral nerves. It often manifests as pain, burning, tingling, loss of sensation, balance problems or sensitivity to temperature and touch. The significance of the symptoms varies depending on how badly the nerves were damaged from the drug. Usually the feet and hands are affected first but technically these concerns can manifest anywhere in the body. If left untreated this damage can be permanent.

There are some drugs such as paclitaxel which are well known to cause this uncomfortable side effect. When the oncology team discusses the different side effects of therapy, patients are often left with the impression that peripheral neuropathy is a normal side effect of chemotherapy. As a consequence when it starts happening, patients do not recognize it as a serious concern. What more patients need to be aware of is that if you are experiencing neuropathy then you must inform your oncologist and your oncology nurse so that the dose can be modified accordingly. Do not wait for them to tell you that you have neuropathy, you must take the initiative and inform them as soon as you experience these symptoms.

Many oncologists have this belief that the only way to prevent peripheral neuropathy is to reduce the dose of the drug causing this symptom. Of course modifying the dose is important to prevent damage to the nerves but there are many natural therapies which can help support nerve health as well. What is interesting about these natural supports is that they are well documented to make a substantial difference in some major studies published in the most mainstream oncology scientific journals.

These natural therapies help to support the health of nerves during and after chemotherapy and the sooner that these supports are implemented the better. There are many different nerve supports available but the ones that I will talk about in this article are L-glutamine, B-vitamins and ALA. Another therapy that I will discuss is cryotherapy to the extremities.

L-Glutamine:

Glutamine is an amino acid that can be used to help support the health of nerves during and after chemotherapy1,2,3. In my experience this is particularly helpful with some of the intense chemotherapy regimens given to patients battling colon cancer. I have also found it to be more helpful when it is used to prevent neuropathy rather than waiting until the neuropathy has developed and then deciding to use it.

There is currently a controversy about the use of glutamine in cancer patients. Cancer cells uptake glutamine and it is metabolized by the cancer for a number of different pathways. Some people look at this information and jump to the conclusion that glutamine feeds the cancer. Yes, glutamine does feed cancer but glutamine also feeds every cell in the body. If the cancer does not get glutamine from the blood stream then it will cause muscles to waste away and get the amino acid from those tissues. The cancer will always find a way to get glutamine whether you supplement with it or not. The simplistic point of view that we should avoid everything that has potential to “feed cancer” is seriously flawed because our immune system desperately needs these same molecules as well. When it comes to the use of glutamine during chemotherapy, the benefits certainly outweigh the risks and this is particularly evident when we consider the health of the nerves.

B-Vitamins:

During chemotherapy the body often becomes rapidly depleted in water soluble B-vitamins11. It is critical to make sure that you are adequately supplied with B-Vitamins prior to and during chemotherapy to adequately support the nerves. The vitamins that are most critical to prevent neuropathy are B1 (Benfotiamine) and B12 (Methylcobalamin)4,5. The dosage of these nutrients makes a big difference and many of the low quality brands have completely insufficient doses. I have no idea why many of the popular low quality brands decided to put the same dose of all B-Vitamins (eg. 50mg of each B-Vitamin). Just because they share the letter “B” in their name does not mean that the metabolic requirement for each one is the same. Each B vitamin has a completely different function in the body so clearly some will be needed in greater quantities than others.

In my practice I regularly give B12 injections to patients who are undergoing any taxol chemotherapy. B12 is not an antioxidant and there are no realistic concerns about giving these shots regularly. Often the absorption of B-vitamins are impaired in cancer patients so oral supplementation is insufficient to achieve the desired doses. I have found that when given weekly these shots can dramatically support the health of the nerves. It is important to point out that you do not have to have a blood test which shows low B12 levels to justify the use of B12 injections. Vitamin B12 is a water soluble vitamin so if your levels are high then the excess will just be excreted in your urine. It is not uncommon for me to give these injections to patients who actually have high levels in their blood and their symptoms improve as a result. A test that demonstrates adequate amounts of B12 floating in your blood in no way indicates how effectively your body is actually utilizing the B12. It seems that many people during chemotherapy have a functional deficiency of B12 during chemotherapy, even if the actual concentration in the blood is normal or high.

Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA):

This natural support has been shown to be a helpful nerve support with certain chemotherapies5. It is critical to recognize that ALA is not safe with all chemotherapies. You must have professional guidance when implementing any of these neurological supports into a cancer treatment plan. ALA helps to prevent neurological damage by supporting the health of the mitochondria. Every cell in the body has mitochondria which are responsible for generating energy and these delicate structures are often damaged by chemotherapy. The ALA helps to directly protect these components within nerve cells which can help to prevent neurological damage.

I have found ALA to be particularly helpful in cases where patients had diabetic neuropathy prior to starting chemotherapy. Clearly in these cases additional supports are needed because the nerves will be inherently vulnerable to any additional stressors. ALA has been extensively studied in the context of diabetic neuropathy and has consistently demonstrated a positive effect  in numerous studies6. This is an example of a natural therapy where the quality of the supplement makes a big difference. It can be administered orally or through an IV. If it is given orally then it must be the pure R form to be effective. If it is a racemic mixture then it will not be effective. When it is administered through an IV it must not be mixed with anything else and the entire line and bag must be completely protected from UV rays. Often the bag and line is wrapped in tin foil to prevent UV degradation of the ALA.

Cryotherapy on hands and feet during chemotherapy:

One of the most basic physiological concepts is how blood flow changes when the body is exposed to extreme temperatures. When our tissues are exposed to cold temperatures the blood vessels in the periphery (arms, hands, legs and feet) constrict dramatically to reduce blood flow to the peripheral regions of the body. The blood is shunted to the internal organs so that your core body temperature is preserved and this allows vital organs to continue to function optimally in cold temperatures. When the body is exposed to very warm temperatures then the opposite happens. The blood vessels in the periphery open up and blood is drawn away from the internal organs to the periphery of the body. This prevents vital organs from overheating and it allows heat to escape on the periphery of the body in the form of sweat.

The concept behind cryotherapy during chemotherapy is that if cold is applied to peripheral tissues then there will be less blood flow to the nerve endings that are vulnerable to the effects of chemotherapy. By this same logic it should also deliver more chemotherapy to the cancer (which is more often located in these internal organs rather than on the hands/toes) by fundamentally changing the flow of blood in the body. This concept makes perfect sense on the physiological level and I would recommend this to anyone who is particularly concerned about neuropathy developing in their hands or feet. There is an abundance of research that supports the use of this therapy on the hands or feet to prevent nail toxicity and peripheral neuropathy7,8,9. In circumstances where patients wish to also preserve taste while reducing the risk of oral mucositis, it can be helpful to chew ice cubes during the infusion10. Of course this should not be done in cases of oral cancers but it is a helpful way to preserve taste by reduce blood flow to the tongue and mouth. This is a simple approach that in my opinion every patient should consider adding to their treatment plan.

Summary:

When used appropriately these neurological supports can be used in a synergistic manner to powerfully support nerve health. The sooner that these supports are used, the better chance of nerve recovery. The therapies that were discussed in detail here are only a fraction of the available therapies. Acupuncture, phosphatidyl-serine, acetyl-L-carnitine and glutathione are also used in specific circumstances to support nerve health. All of these supports must be used properly if you expect to have any positive results. In order to develop an effective nerve support protocol you must have professional guidance from a Naturopathic doctor who has experience supporting patients through chemotherapy.

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) Wang, Wei-Shu, et al. “Oral glutamine is effective for preventing oxaliplatin-induced neuropathy in colorectal cancer patients.” The Oncologist 12.3 (2007): 312-319.

2) Savarese, Diane MF, et al. “Prevention of chemotherapy and radiation toxicity with glutamine.” Cancer treatment reviews 29.6 (2003): 501-513.

3) Vahdat, Linda, et al. “Reduction of paclitaxel-induced peripheral neuropathy with glutamine.” Clinical Cancer Research 7.5 (2001): 1192-1197.

4) Dizaye, Kawa F., and Chro Y. Qadir. “Effects of Benfotiamine and Methylcobalamin on Paclitaxel induced Peripheral neuropathy.” Middle East Journal of Internal Medicine 7.1 (2014).

5) Mondal, S., et al. “Comparative study among glutamine, acetyl-L-carnitine, vitamin-E and methylcobalamine for treatment of paclitaxel-induced peripheral neuropathy.” Clinical Cancer Investigation Journal 3.3 (2014): 213.

6) Foster, Tricia Stewart. “Efficacy and safety of α-lipoic acid supplementation in the treatment of symptomatic diabetic neuropathy.” The Diabetes Educator 33.1 (2007): 111-117.

7) Scotté, Florian, et al. “Multicenter study of a frozen glove to prevent docetaxel-induced onycholysis and cutaneous toxicity of the hand.” Journal of clinical oncology 23.19 (2005): 4424-4429.

8) Scotté, Florian, et al. “Matched case‐control phase 2 study to evaluate the use of a frozen sock to prevent docetaxel‐induced onycholysis and cutaneous toxicity of the foot.” Cancer 112.7 (2008): 1625-1631.

9) Eckhoff, L., et al. “Risk of docetaxel-induced peripheral neuropathy among 1,725 Danish patients with early stage breast cancer.” Breast cancer research and treatment 142.1 (2013): 109-118.

10) Karagözoğlu, Şerife, and Mehlika Filiz Ulusoy. “Chemotherapy: the effect of oral cryotherapy on the development of mucositis.” Journal of clinical nursing 14.6 (2005): 754-765.

11) Schloss, Janet M., et al. “Chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN) and vitamin B12 deficiency.” Supportive care in cancer: official journal of the Multinational Association of Supportive Care in Cancer 23.7 (2015): 1843.

Naturopathic Medicine and Cancer February 29, 2016

Posted by Dreamhealer in best vancouver naturopath, Cancer, cancer therapy, Chemotherapy, Healing.
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Naturopathic Medicine and Cancer

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

Naturopathic medicine has a wide range of tools that can be used in conjunction with conventional medicine to effectively treat cancer. Many people have this underlying assumption that naturopathic treatments are not “evidence based” because otherwise their oncologist would have recommended them. The truth is that many of these therapies are extremely well documented by scientific studies and the mainstream scientific community does not dispute their effectiveness. The bottom line is that cancer patients do better when they have an integrative health care team and Naturopathic doctors are an integral part of this team.

When dealing with a complex condition such as cancer it is very important to thoroughly review the entire health history of the patient, not just the diagnosis of cancer. It is essential that as physicians we actually take the time to listen to what the patient is saying. This allows us to develop a custom treatment plan for that individual which addresses the unique circumstances of that patient. Naturopathic doctors are experts at taking the time to listen to the patient and developing a treatment plan for that unique patient.

Chemotherapy and radiation are effective therapies and often it is a race between the death of the cancer cells and the death of healthy cells. Making sure the healthy cells are supplied with adequate nutrients allows patients to endure these harsh therapies with fewer side effects. Very often patients who are adequately supported with the appropriate nutrition and supplements will be able to tolerate additional rounds of chemotherapy and radiation. Ultimately if healthy cells are more likely to survive, this helps stack the odds against cancer cells.

Patients are often reluctant to take any supplements during chemotherapy and radiation because of potential interactions. This is a legitimate concern because there are many negative interactions if the wrong supplement is used. Any Naturopathic Doctor who regularly works with cancer is well aware of these interactions. When the appropriate supplements are used there are profound benefits to cancer patients. These supplements are well supported by scientific evidence and they have been consistently demonstrated to be safe when used in the right context. This is why the blanket statement of “avoid all supplements” is simply incorrect. It is absolutely essential that you have professional guidance from an experienced Naturopathic Doctor when you are picking supplements.

The mainstream medical community is slowly becoming more open to collaborating with Naturopathic Doctors because the evidence for the benefits of an integrative approach to cancer care can no longer be ignored. For years Naturopathic Doctors have been using high dose IV Vitamin C as a cancer therapy and traditional medical doctors considered it to be a nonsense therapy. Recently they have changed their attitude and oncologists are jumping on to the Vitamin C bandwagon. There is no doubt that when used appropriately this can be an effective integrative cancer therapy.

Patients who undergo this therapy tend to experience less significant side effects from the chemotherapy. IV Vitamin C can vastly improve quality of life by increasing appetite, raising platelet counts, easing fatigue and reducing pain. When patients are supported by the appropriate nutrients and supplements, the side effects from chemotherapy are less intense. Studies consistently show that at these high doses, Vitamin C is toxic to cancer cells while protecting healthy cells from the adverse effects of chemotherapy. The evidence indicates that IV Vitamin C is effective when used in conjunction with chemotherapy rather than as a stand-alone therapy. This is just one example of many different effective natural cancer therapies available. There is much more to integrative oncology than simply IV Vitamin C!

There is no question that there is often a strong emotional component to cancer and this must be addressed for optimal healing to take place. Patients will often be able to directly connect the formation of their cancer with a stressful event in their life. This is not an imaginary connection; there are biological reasons why emotional stress can trigger the formation of cancer. Stress can cause cancer. It is important to point out that this is not a hypothetical concept. This is a statement that is well supported by scientific evidence. The link between cancer and stress is well established and is not debated by the scientific community. Many people are not aware how significant this connection is as medical doctors often disregard this connection despite the body of evidence. Naturopathic doctors not only address the physical components of health, they will also take the time to address the emotional and spiritual components that simply cannot be ignored in patients with cancer.

If you know someone with cancer, make sure you let them know about the potential benefits of seeing a Naturopathic Doctor who focuses on cancer. There are so many amazing tools that Naturopathic medicine has to offer and the public needs to be aware that these therapies exist and that they are effective!

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

The Real Truth About Cancer February 22, 2016

Posted by Dreamhealer in best vancouver naturopath, Cancer, cancer therapy, Healing, Naturopathic Doctor, Naturopathic Medicine, oncology.
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Written By: Dr. Adam McLeod, ND, BSc (Hons)

Recently there have been a surge in patients seeking alternative cures for cancer after watching the popular series “The Truth About Cancer”. This series does an excellent job of raising awareness about various natural therapies but it does patients a great disservice by discouraging patients from using conventional therapies. This documentary has given patients a biased view point and as a consequence they feel very polarized in their opinion against conventional care. The problem is that the best treatment plan involves integrating these two worlds together. Both conventional therapies and natural therapies have a lot that they can offer patients but they must be used together in a synergistic way for optimal results.

Patients have the right to choose what ever treatment plan they want. As a Naturopathic physician I have always respected my patients choices, even if I disagree with that choice. It is not my job to force the patient to choose a treatment plan, it is my job to give them the information and then they choose the treatment plan that feels right to them. When developing a treatment plan the key word is “integrative” not “alternative”. This means using natural tools safely and effectively in conjunction with conventional therapies. An integrative approach is what any licensed naturopathic doctor would be recommending and unfortunately this documentary confuses the public by giving them the impression that naturopathic doctors are against conventional cancer treatments. By presenting such a polarized view it often discourages patients from seeking true integrative care that could really benefit them.

Make no mistake about it, I am a big believer in the healing power of nature but this series greatly exaggerates the effectiveness of many natural therapies. Of course there are home runs with simple natural therapies. I have personally witnessed on many occasions where patients have dramatic responses to the simplest natural therapies. Although these responses are amazing and they require further investigation, it does not mean that everyone should abandon all conventional therapies in favour of an alternative approach. What the documentary fails to document is the many people who chose to pursue only alternative therapies and had poor responses. Cancer is unforgiving of delays and poor choices. It is true that chemotherapy, radiation and surgery have side effects but cancer has side effects too.

Many of the natural therapies that this documentary chooses to highlight are not commonly recommended by experts who work in the integrative oncology field. Things like baking soda and apricot seeds are not mainstream natural cancer therapies and have virtually no evidence of being effective. There are countless natural therapies which are more effective than this and which are well supported by scientific evidence. Not all cancers are the same and you must have professional guidance when developing a plan. Many natural therapies are completely contraindicated in certain cancers and just because it is natural does not mean that it is universally safe.

Of course there are times where the use of chemotherapy is questionable. In some circumstances the cancer is unlikely to respond to the drug and intensive therapies are being recommended to only slightly extend life expectancy. In these cases the lowered quality of life must be weighed against the increased life expectancy. There are certainly cases like this where the medical oncologists are only recommending such therapies because there are no other options. It is not unreasonable for patients to resist conventional care in some of these extreme circumstances.

The key thing to recognize is that this does not apply to all cases of cancer. Conventional cancer treatments save lives when used in a timely fashion. The study cited in the series that states the ineffectiveness of chemotherapy is not presenting this information properly. This study is questioning the use of chemotherapy in the context of 5 year survival rate. By the time many of these cancers in the study were diagnosed, the disease had already greatly progressed and it is unlikely that anyone would live for 5 years, regardless of what therapy they choose.

When you take the time to dig deeper into the study it is clear that in many of these cancers the patients are living significantly longer but many of them are not living up to the 5 year mark. In this particular study someone could live for several years with a great quality of life but if they died at 4 years and 11 months then the chemotherapy would be considered ineffective. Obviously if a patient is able to live longer with a good quality of life, this is a success even if they don’t live for 5 years. The public is often left with this false impression that all chemotherapy leaves patients with a crippled quality of life. Certainly some chemotherapies significantly decrease quality of life but not all chemotherapy is the same. Particularly when patients are well supported they have significantly less side effects and can live with a great quality of life. It is not unusual for me to have a patient come to my office who has minimal side effects even when doing an intense round of chemotherapy because they are well supported naturally during this process.

You will never have all studies agree as this is how science works. We cannot base our clinical decisions on one study, we must base it on the totality of the evidence. A quick literature search will find thousands of peer reviewed studies demonstrating the effectiveness of chemotherapy for a wide range of cancers. I have had many patients in the past refuse conventional care against my advice and fly to exotic clinics around the world to receive alternative therapies. During these unnecessary delays the cancer spread to the point that it was no longer curable. In some of these cases I was confident that the patient could have been easily cured had they not hesitated.

Natural therapies can be used to help support patients through conventional treatments. They can help to significantly reduce side effects and support the immune system. When patients have this support not only do they respond better to therapy, they are more likely to embrace both therapies as their answer to this terrible disease. Often those who are the most polarized in their opinions against an integrative approach are people with little to no experience dealing with cancer. These two worlds can coexist and it is a beautiful thing when there is true collaboration.

The bottom line is that a balanced approach is best. The extreme view that no natural therapies work is simply incorrect. Just as the extreme view that only natural therapies should be used is inaccurate. The best treatment plan is an integrative approach which bridges these two worlds. Many patients get scared away from conventional therapies because their oncologist presents the treatments with such a polarized point of view. When you are trained as a hammer, everything looks like a nail. This becomes obvious to many patients after meeting with their oncologist who has a limited set of tools to offer. There are a vast range of natural therapies that can be used to help your body fight cancer but they have to be used in the proper clinical context. A Naturopathic doctor who works with oncology can help to give you a more balanced view and develop a treatment plan that utilizes the best of both worlds.

Dr. McLeod is currently accepting new patients at Yaletown Naturopathic Clinic, please call 604-235-8068 to book an appointment or for more information about integrative oncology treatments. Yaletown Naturopathic is also one of only a few clinics in all of North America who offers Loco Regional Hyperthermia to patients who qualify for this treatment.

Get well. Stay well. 

Detoxification and Cancer February 15, 2016

Posted by Dreamhealer in best vancouver naturopath, Cancer, Healing, integrative cancer care, Naturopathic Doctor, Naturopathic Medicine.
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Written By: Dr. Adam McLeod, ND, BSc (Hons)

On a regular basis I have cancer patients come to my clinic who when diagnosed immediately started a self prescribed detox protocol to rid their body of the toxins from cancer. Intuitively it makes sense to remove toxins from a body fighting cancer. The cancer is very stressful on the body and as a consequence there is cellular debris and toxins that your body must eliminate. There are also many people who believe these toxins are the root cause of the cancer in the first place. Although this make sense on an intuitive level, in the complicated clinical context of cancer this is usually not a good treatment plan to pursue.

Cancer and the conventional therapies used to treat cancer are toxic to the body, but aggressively trying to remove these toxins is not helpful during conventional treatment. One major safety concern that many self prescribed plans neglect to consider is that these detox plans can alter how your body metabolizes the drug. When a dose of chemotherapy is given to a patient, the dose is calculated based on how quickly the body breaks down and eliminates the drug. If your body breaks down the drug faster then it will be eliminated before it has the chance to have its therapeutic effect. Just because a drug is considered “toxic” doesn’t mean that we have to get rid of it as soon as possible. In fact, often we want that drug to remain present for a specific amount of time so that it can have an optimal therapeutic effect.

The whole purpose of any detox plan is to mobilize toxins and eliminate them from the body. This process is inherently stressful on the body and can actually increase inflammation through out the body. This is why patients will often experience joint pain upon initiating a detox protocol. When the body is already in such a stressed and inflamed state from cancer, it is not wise to add any additional stress to the system. After chemotherapy or radiation is complete, then there could be an argument for a detox but even then it must be done at the right time, with the proper guidance.

The challenge when developing an effective integrative cancer treatment plan is that there are so many different therapies that show promise. There is a lot of misinformation on the internet and not all cancers are the same! Just because you read that a therapy was helpful for someone fighting cancer, this does not mean that it would be relevant to a different form of cancer. We have to prioritize the treatment plan and keep it targeted on the common goal of supporting the immune system while controlling inflammation. There are many natural ways to do this but in order for them to be used safely it has to be used in the right clinical context.

The bottom line is that if you are trying to support your body through any cancer therapy, you need professional guidance. Do not develop a plan on your own as not all natural therapies are safe or indicated in specific circumstances. A significant portion of my job as a Naturopathic Physician who focuses on integrative oncology is just making sure patients are not taking supplements that are dangerous. On an almost daily basis I see patients who self prescribed a supplement that is contraindicated or ineffective for their cancer and they never told their oncologist because they were afraid of how they would react. After a Naturopathic Physician develops a safe and effective plan they can then communicate with the oncologist so that everyone is on the same page. This creates a better collaborative healing environment for the patient and allows for the development of a more 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

Are Electromagnetic Fields Dangerous? January 11, 2016

Posted by Dreamhealer in Cancer, Cell Phones, Healing, Health, oncology.
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Written By: Dr. Adam McLeod, ND, BSc (Hons)

For those of us who live in the city, we are constantly surrounded by electromagnetic fields. This is simply unavoidable in modern society yet this is a recent change. We are exposed to substantially more electromagnetic radiation than our ancestors. In fact, most of us are completely surrounded by these electromagnetic fields 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The obvious question is, are these electromagnetic fields safe to be around?

There is a common belief in the general population that powerful magnetic fields do not affect living organisms. Perhaps this originates from movies such as Terminator where robots shut down in the presence of these fields while humans seem unaffected. Although the effects may not be as dramatic as a machine interacting with these fields, living organisms are most certainly effected by electromagnetic fields. When you take the time to break down what electromagnetic fields are and how cells interact with them, the reasons are obvious.

What is an electromagnetic field? An electromagnetic field is a physical field produced by electrically charged objects. It extends indefinitely through space and affects the behaviour of charged objects in the vicinity of the field. The chemistry that drives life is dependent on subtle interactions between charged particles. For example, it is the distribution of charged amino acids in a protein that ultimately determine the structure and function of that protein. Your brain functions by creating a distinct yet delicate distribution of charged ions. This is how a nerve impulse moves through your body. These subtle interactions are critical for all living organisms.

It is clear that these fields will influence the biochemistry of any living organism but the implications of this interaction are poorly understood. There is some evidence to suggest that electromagnetic fields are dangerous. In one large Norwegian study, electrical workers with 10 or more years of working experience were 41% more likely to develop leukemia and brain tumours1. A different study indicated that there is a connection between exposure to electromagnetic fields and the development of male breast cancer2. Although numerous studies indicate a connection between cancer and electromagnetic fields, there is still some controversy about how significant this interaction is3.

When I was a teenager my mother was diagnosed with a brain tumour. Thankfully it was successfully removed surgically with no major complications. After the surgery my mother always proclaimed that there was a connection between cell phone use and her tumour. She was suddenly more sensitive to the radiation from a cell phone and she could not even talk on a cell phone unless she put it on speaker phone. At the time there was no evidence to support this connection, but there is now an abundance of evidence that supports a connection between regular cell phone use and the development of brain tumours4,5,6,7. Perhaps what is most convincing about this data is that there is a consistent pattern of association between mobile phone use and ipsilateral glioma and acoustic neuroma. In other words, these people are consistently developing tumours on the same side of their head that they hold their cell phone.

As I was writing this it forced me to look at my own habits and reassess my own exposure to electromagnetic fields. I am constantly surrounded by computers, laptops and cell phones. This is unavoidable for those of us who work in the city and the reality is that I am not prepared to eliminate these items from my life, not yet at least. I have however made several small changes in my life when it comes to electronic devices. Whenever I sit down at a table I will always take my phone out of my pocket and put it on the table. I also make en effort to put my phone on airplane mode whenever possible. When sleeping I always make sure that my phone is as far away from me as possible (ie on the other side of the room rather than beside my bed). These are small changes but I believe that they will significantly reduce my exposure to electromagnetic fields.

The purpose of this article was not to scare people about every electronic device or encourage people to hide from cities. It is important that as a society we become aware that we do not fully understand the significance of how these fields influence our health and that they may be dangerous. Perhaps by recognizing this interaction we can one day make changes as a society to reduce our exposure to these fields.

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) Tynes, Tore, Aage Andersen, and FrØydis Langmark. “Incidence of cancer in Norwegian workers potentially exposed to electromagnetic fields.” American Journal of Epidemiology 136.1 (1992): 81-88.

2) Demers, Paul A., et al. “Occupational exposure to electromagnetic fields and breast cancer in men.” American Journal of Epidemiology 134.4 (1991): 340-347.

3) Heynick, Louis N., Sheila A. Johnston, and Patrick A. Mason. “Radio frequency electromagnetic fields: cancer, mutagenesis, and genotoxicity.” Bioelectromagnetics 24.S6 (2003): S74-S100.

4) Khurana, Vini G., et al. “Cell phones and brain tumors: a review including the long-term epidemiologic data.” Surgical neurology 72.3 (2009): 205-214.

5) Hardell, Lennart, et al. “Long-term use of cellular phones and brain tumours: increased risk associated with use for⩾ 10 years.” Occupational and Environmental Medicine 64.9 (2007): 626-632.

6) Hardell, Lennart, et al. “Cellular and cordless telephones and the risk for brain tumours.” European Journal of Cancer Prevention 11.4 (2002): 377-386.

7) Hardell, Lennart, et al. “Meta-analysis of long-term mobile phone use and the association with brain tumours.”International journal of oncology 32.5 (2008): 1097-1103.

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