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Boost the Odds After Cancer by Reducing Stress and Focusing on Healing December 17, 2015

Posted by Dreamhealer in Cancer, cancer therapy, Cancer Treatment, Healing, integrative cancer care, stress.
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Reducing stress and making lifestyle changes can yield remarkable results.

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

The diagnosis of cancer is a scary experience. Patients are often immediately thrust into aggressive conventional therapies without fully understanding how the therapy works or why it is necessary. We live in a culture where we put the responsibility of our health into someone else’s hands. We are told to trust that they know what is best and patients are often discouraged from doing their own research. Patients often feel that from the first day of diagnosis they are put on a conveyor belt and shuffled from one appointment to the next with no other options available. Once the treatments are complete and the patient is declared cancer free, they are abruptly discharged from the cancer agency and it is expected that they continue on with their life as if nothing had happened.

The reality is that this experience is so stressful for patients that it often leaves them traumatized emotionally and physically. Treatment does not end the moment that someone is given the “all-clear”. That is the time to focus on keeping your immune system strong and changing factors in your lifestyle to reduce the risk of recurrence. Patients need guidance to make these physical and emotional changes to reduce the chances of the cancer coming back. The good news is that there is a lot that can be done and there is substantial research to back these therapies.

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 melanoma2. 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 group1. 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 place. Given what we know about the connection between immune function and stress, this conclusion is not surprising.

The aggressive conventional therapies that patients go through often do a good job of killing cancerous cells. The problem is that these same therapies also leave the immune system severely weakened at a time when you need the immune system to be strong. You must have a functioning immune system to patrol your tissues and identify abnormal cells before they have an opportunity to manifest as a clinical disease. The first year after being given the “all-clear” diagnosis is the most important time to support your immune system. There are many natural therapies and lifestyle changes that can be done to help support your immune system at this critical time period.

Mistletoe therapy is just one example of a therapy that can be used to effectively stimulate the immune system. Mistletoe has been shown to stimulate increases in the number and the activity of several types of white blood cells3. Immune-system-enhancing cytokines, such as interleukin-1, interleukin-6, and tumour necrosis factor alpha are released by white blood cells after exposure to mistletoe extracts4,5. It is also possible to make simple dietary changes that can significantly reduce inflammation and further support immune function.

Patients want and need continued support after they are treated for cancer. They need to be supported mentally and physically in order to help further reduce the risk of recurrence. Naturopathic doctors excel at providing this much needed support to patients and help them get back on the path to wellness.

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

This article was also published in the Georgia Straight Vancouver.

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

2) 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.

3) Büssing, A., A. Regnery, and K. Schweizer. “Effects of Viscum album L. on cyclophosphamide-treated peripheral blood mononuclear cells in vitro: sister chromatid exchanges and activation/proliferation marker expression.” Cancer letters 94.2 (1995): 199-205.

4) Hajto, Tibor. “Immunomodulatory effects of Iscador: a Viscum album preparation.” Oncology 43.Suppl. 1 (1986): 51-65.

5) 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.

Diabetes Drugs for Cancer? October 13, 2015

Posted by Dreamhealer in Diabetes, Naturopathic Medicine, oncology.
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Diabetes drugs
Written by: Dr. Adam McLeod, ND, BSc (Hons)

Can drugs traditionally used for diabetes also be helpful with cancer? There is a growing body of evidence which indicates that both Metformin and a class of drugs known as thiazolidinediones can be a useful adjunctive cancer therapy. The biochemical mechanism behind this anticancer effect is poorly defined but there are some intriguing theories about the mechanism of action.

Metformin is the first line drug for patients with Type 2 diabetes and it is certainly effective at getting the blood sugar under control. Diabetic patients who regularly take metformin have a lower risk of developing cancer1. Metformin activates an enzyme known as AMPK. A recent breakthrough has found a key regulator of AMPK to be a protein known as LKB1. LKB1 is a well recognized tumour suppressor. Activation of AMPK by metformin and exercise requires LKB1, and this would also explain why exercise is beneficial in the primary and secondary prevention of certain cancers2.

Recent studies strongly indicate that the anticancer effects of metformin are indeed linked to AMPK3. Metformin appears to selectively target cancer stem cells, and acts together with chemotherapy to block tumour growth and prolong remission4. When used with doxorubicin it acts synergistically to reduce tumour mass and relapse rates more effectively than either drug alone.

There is a completely different class of medications that is also used for diabetes which appears to have anticancer effects. The drug class is known as thiazolidinediones. One of the most well known drugs in this class is called Avandia. Even though both of these drugs are effective at treating diabetes they work by a completely different mechanisms. The thiazolidinediones activate a receptor called PPAR and by activating this receptor it triggers a cascade of reactions that are beneficial to patients fighting cancer6,7,8. The drug increases the activity of a key tumour suppressor called PTEN5. This tumour suppressor is a protein that halts the growth of cancer cells by inhibiting an enzyme known as PI3K. There are many types of cancer that are dependent on inhibiting the function of the tumour suppressor PTEN. The bottom line is that this drug helps to put the brakes on the growth of cancerous cells by activating PTEN.

As more research accumulates supporting the fact that these antidiabetic drugs can be used to treat cancer, one thing is becoming clear. The anticancer effect from these drugs is due to their influence on several different metabolic pathways. The great thing about these medications is that they have a long history of use and they are well established as safe adjunctive cancer therapies. Like any medication it has to be used in the right context and this therapy is not for everyone. A Naturopathic doctor who focuses in oncology will go through your entire case history to determine if this treatment is indicated. Contact your local naturopathic doctor to see if this therapy 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) Evans, Josie MM, et al. “Metformin and reduced risk of cancer in diabetic patients.” Bmj 330.7503 (2005): 1304-1305.

2) Bauman AE.Updating the evidence that physical exercise is good for health: an epidemiologic review.J Sci Med Sport2004; 7:6–19.

3) Zakikhani, Mahvash, et al. “Metformin is an AMP kinase–dependent growth inhibitor for breast cancer cells.” Cancer research 66.21 (2006): 10269-10273.

4) Hirsch, Heather A., et al. “Metformin selectively targets cancer stem cells, and acts together with chemotherapy to block tumor growth and prolong remission.” Cancer research 69.19 (2009): 7507-7511.

5) Farrow, Buckminster, and B. Mark Evers. “Activation of PPARγ increases PTEN expression in pancreatic cancer cells.” Biochemical and biophysical research communications 301.1 (2003): 50-53.

6) Bunt, Stephanie K., et al. “Rosiglitazone and Gemcitabine in combination reduces immune suppression and modulates T cell populations in pancreatic cancer.” Cancer Immunology, Immunotherapy 62.2 (2013): 225-236.

7) Monami, Matteo, Ilaria Dicembrini, and Edoardo Mannucci. “Thiazolidinediones and cancer: results of a meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials.” Acta diabetologica 51.1 (2014): 91-101.

8) Srivastava, Nishi, et al. “Inhibition of Cancer Cell Proliferation by PPARγ Is Mediated by a Metabolic Switch that Increases Reactive Oxygen Species Levels.” Cell metabolism (2014).

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