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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 cancer 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 cancer treatments.

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.

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.


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 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 cancer care.

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.

Is the Alkaline Diet an Effective Cancer Treatment? July 6, 2015

Posted by Dreamhealer in Alkaline Diet, Health, Naturopathy.
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Alkaline Vegetables

Every day I see cancer patients who are drinking alkaline water and focusing a significant amount of their time and energy on alkaline foods. Is this an effective cure for cancer? The short answer is no and any observed positive effects have nothing to do with the foods being alkaline. Let me explain why this is.

In the early 20th century it was observed that cancer cells could not grow in alkaline environments. There are a number of metabolic reasons why this is and this principle is very effective in a petri dish. The problem is that this theory simply does not apply to our bodies. The pH is a measure of how acid or basic a liquid is. You cannot change the pH of your blood enough to influence cancer. To understand why, you need to look at the biochemistry of the blood.

Our blood is buffered which means that it is absolutely full of molecules that make sure there are no variations in the pH of the blood. The body spends a substantial amount of energy keeping the pH of the blood with in a very narrow range. Every single protein in your entire body is designed to work at a very specific pH. If there is any deviation from this optimal pH then the protein ceases to function properly. In other words, if you were able to make your blood significantly more basic it would very quickly result in kidney failure, respiratory failure and ultimately death. Our cells have been adapting to a very narrow pH range for millions of years and there are many metabolic reasons for this. When you drink alkaline water and eat alkaline foods it does not make your blood alkaline.

Any positive studies relating to the alkaline diet have nothing to do with the foods being alkaline. When you look at the list of “alkaline foods” it consists mostly of fresh fruit, vegetables, nuts and legumes with very small amounts of meat. These are all very healthy foods that are rich in nutrients. The high nutrient content is completely unrelated to the alkaline nature of these foods.

When designing an ideal diet plan for cancer patients the first goal is making sure they are getting adequate nutrients because the cells will have increased metabolic demands while fighting cancer. The second goal is making sure that they are avoiding foods that are rich in sugar. Very often this diet will consist of fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts and legumes. No one disputes that these foods are helpful when combating cancer but it is clear that this positive effect from these foods is not due to them being alkaline.

If you are fighting cancer it is essential that you have professional guidance with your diet. Before you make any dramatic changes contact a Naturopathic physician that works with cancer. A Naturopathic doctor that works with cancer will take the time to look at your case and will design a specific diet plan 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 cancer treatments. Visit Yaletown Naturopathic Clinic for more information.

Written by: Dr. Adam McLeod, ND, BSc

Pre-Sale Discount Ending June 30 June 29, 2015

Posted by Dreamhealer in Cancer, integrative cancer care, Naturopathic Medicine.
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Integrative Cancer Careintegrative cancer care vancouver

                                                                                                                                                 Just a reminder the presale discount for Dr. Adam McLeod’s new book, Integrative Cancer Care: The Power of Being Informed, ends tomorrow on Tuesday June 30, 2015! This book describes evidence based natural therapies that are available and how they can be used in an integrative cancer setting. Become an informed patient and get involved in your own healing.

Presale discount: $20 tax included

Regular price: $24.95 plus tax

Order your copy today through the online bookstore.


Ketogenic Diet June 22, 2015

Posted by Dreamhealer in healthy fats, ketogenic diet, Naturopathic Medicine.
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Ketogenic Diet

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

The ketogenic diet is commonly used to treat epilepsy and it also appears to have applications in an integrative cancer setting as well. The concept behind the diet is that by changing the composition of the foods you eat it will fundamentally change the energy metabolism in your nervous system. The diet consists of consuming high amounts of fats while avoiding carbohydrates. This diet can be a challenge to maintain but in specific cases it is certainly worth the effort.

This high fat and low carbohydrate diet forces the body to burn fats for energy rather than sugars. Normally the brain uses glucose (sugar) as its primary source of energy but if there is a shortage of sugar the liver then converts fats into ketone bodies. These ketones pass into the brain and replace glucose as the primary source of energy. High levels of ketones in the blood are very strongly correlated with a decrease in the frequency of epileptic seizures.

Healthy cells within the nervous system are able to easily shift their metabolism to become dependent on ketone bodies. Cancerous cells within the nervous system have very high energetic requirements and they struggle to shift to this new energy source. As a result cancers that are of nervous tissue origin are vulnerable to the ketogenic diet. The ketogenic diet slows down the rate of growth of brain tumours because the cancerous cells do not have an abundant and useable energy source under these conditions2,3,4. In my experience the ketogenic diet works synergistically with DCA in patients with brain tumours. The evidence for the use of the ketogenic diet with brain cancers is overwhelming. There is also evidence to suggest that this diet can be helpful with other forms of cancer5. The results from the Ketogenic diet on brain tumours are far more dramatic than with other forms of cancer.

This diet is very difficult to maintain for long periods of time and it takes discipline to do it properly. I always recommend the ketogenic diet to patients with brain cancers, however, I do not regularly recommend it to patients with other forms of cancer. Although there is some evidence to suggest that it can still be helpful, it is often very stressful for patients to adhere to this strict diet plan. In advanced metastatic cases it can be helpful to begin the ketogenic diet because it slows down the rate of growth by changing the energy source for the cancer. In localized cancers that do not originate from the brain, the effect of the ketogenic diet is minimal. This diet is not a cure for cancer but it can certainly help to slow the growth and it can be used safely in conjunction with other medical treatments.

The reality is that in order for this diet to have the desired effect you need to strictly adhere to the diet plan. The goal is to starve the cancer cells of their primary energy source, every time you consume sugar they immediately use this to produce energy. There are a number of good online resources that can help you transition to an effective ketogenic diet. One good website is:


Often when making such a dramatic dietary change the key to success is slowly transitioning to the new diet. In this circumstance it is best to make the transition as rapidly as possible and resources like the above website can help with that transition. It is very important to consult a Naturopathic doctor to determine if this is the right diet for you. This diet is not for everyone and it takes clinical judgement to determine if this is best option.

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 cancer treatments.

1) Freeman JM, Kossoff EH, Hartman AL. The ketogenic diet: one decade later. Pediatrics. 2007 Mar;119(3):535–43.

2) Zhou, Weihua, et al. “The calorically restricted ketogenic diet, an effective alternative therapy for malignant brain cancer.” Nutr Metab (Lond) 4.5 (2007): 5.

3) Nebeling, Linda C., et al. “Effects of a ketogenic diet on tumor metabolism and nutritional status in pediatric oncology patients: two case reports.” Journal of the American College of Nutrition 14.2 (1995): 202-208.

4) Seyfried, Thomas N., and Purna Mukherjee. “Targeting energy metabolism in brain cancer: review and hypothesis.” Nutrition & metabolism 2.1 (2005): 30.

5) Schmidt, Melanie, et al. “Effects of a ketogenic diet on the quality of life in 16 patients with advanced cancer: A pilot trial.” Nutr Metab (Lond) 8.1 (2011): 54.

The Dangers of DHEA June 15, 2015

Posted by Dreamhealer in Alternative medicine, Breast Cancer, Cancer, Cancer Treatment.
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DHEA Cancer

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

DHEA (Dehydroepiandrosterone) is often described as a wonder drug that is used by patients interested in its anti-aging effects. As we age the levels of DHEA in the blood start to decrease so the logic was that if patients were given this hormone then they would be able to partially reverse the aging process. There is evidence to suggest that indeed it improves many of the characteristics that we associate with aging.

Supplementation with DHEA is not safe for everyone as it is strongly associated with an increased risk of developing breast cancer1,2. In response to this risk, supplement companies began to produce a molecule called 7-keto DHEA, which is a metabolite of DHEA. This was considered a safer alternative to DHEA because it does not break down into estrogen or testosterone4. It is true that when patients take 7-keto DHEA there is no statistically significant increase in hormone levels but this does not make it safe to use with breast cancer.

I have personally seen several patients with active estrogen positive breast cancer who were prescribed 7-keto DHEA by a medical doctor. This is a dangerous combination and it is reckless to prescribe this medication in this clinical situation. 7-keto DHEA is not safe for any patient with estrogen positive breast cancer. There are a number of obvious biochemical reasons for this contraindication. First of all there are absolutely no studies which indicate that this is safe with estrogen positive breast cancer. Secondly, just because the estrogen levels are not elevated does not mean that the estrogen receptor is not being stimulated.

Normally the receptors on the surface of a cell are only stimulated by a few specific molecules. The estrogen receptors are notoriously promiscuous. What this means is that they are stimulated by many different molecules as well as estrogen. One of those molecules is 7-keto DHEA. In other words, even though patients do not have elevations in estrogen levels the estrogen receptors are being directly stimulated by the 7-keto DHEA3. As far as the cancer cells are concerned, they will act as if they are being stimulated by estrogen even though the actual levels of estrogen remain unchanged.

In one study it was conclusively shown that 7-keto DHEA (aka 7-oxo DHEA) is a low affinity ligand activator of estrogen receptors. The estrogen activity in these cancer cell lines were significantly elevated compared to the controls. In this same study, the cancer cells (MCF-7 breast cancer cells) that were treated with 7-keto DHEA grew much faster than the controls. This simple study certainly raises concern about the use of this supplement in cancer patients. It is clearly misleading to state that 7-keto DHEA has all the positive effects of DHEA without any of the negative effects. This is simply not how our cells operate on the biochemical level.

Another obvious concern is that 7-keto DHEA is essentially structurally identical to DHEA. This means that its overall shape is so similar that it will stimulate estrogen receptors the same as if it was DHEA. The estrogen receptors on cancer cells cannot tell the difference between 7-keto DHEA and DHEA. As far as the cancer is concerned it is the same thing. Of course the DHEA will not stimulate these receptors as strongly as estrogen but they still increase the activity which is the complete opposite of what you want to do with estrogen positive breast cancer. Conventional cancer therapies work very hard to reduce estrogen activity as much as possible because this activity acts as a signal for these cancer cells to grow5.

It is important that more patients become aware of this serious concern because it is difficult to sift through the mountains of information on the web. Unfortunately, there are still doctors that are prescribing this medication to estrogen positive breast cancer patients. The simple explanation that estrogen levels are unaffected does not mean that it is safe. Biology is much more complex than simply monitoring the level of a few arbitrary hormones in the blood. There is significant cross talk between these different pathways in cells and this well understood biological concept also applies to the clinical setting.

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 cancer care.

1) Tworoger, S. S.; Missmer, S. A.; Eliassen, A. H. et al. (2006). “The association of plasma DHEA and DHEA sulfate with breast cancer risk in predominantly premenopausal women”. Cancer Epidemiol. Biomarkers Prev. 15 (5): 967–71.

2) Key, T.; Appleby, P.; Barnes, I.; Reeves, G. (2002). “Endogenous sex hormones and breast cancer in postmenopausal women: reanalysis of nine prospective studies”. J. Natl. Cancer Inst. 94 (8): 606–16.

3) Michael Miller, Kristy K., et al. “DHEA metabolites activate estrogen receptors alpha and beta.” Steroids 78.1 (2013): 15-25.

4) Lardy, H; Kneer N, Wei Y, Partridge B, Marwah P (1998). “Ergosteroids II: Biologically Active Metabolites and Synthetic Derivatives of Dehydroepiandrosterone”. Steroids 63 (3): 158–165.

5) Janni W, Hepp P. Adjuvant aromatase inhibitor therapy: Outcomes and safety. Cancer Treat Rev. 2010; 36:249–261.

Iron and Anemia in Cancer Patients June 9, 2015

Posted by Dreamhealer in Alternative medicine, Anemia, Cancer, iron deficiency.
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iron anemia cancer
Written by: Dr. Adam McLeod, ND, BSc (Hons)

Everyone has seen someone with cancer who looks pale and depleted with energy. This is often due to anemia which means that there are less red blood cells to transport oxygen to tissues in the body. There are a number of different potential causes for this and one of the most common causes is low iron. When a doctor looks at blood work that clearly says “low iron” there is often an immediate response to supplement the patient with iron. However, we should not be so quick to prescribe iron to every cancer patient that is showing signs of anemia.

The interactions between iron and cancer are very complex and altered iron metabolism is considered a key metabolic “hallmark of cancer”1. It is clear that iron has roles in all aspects of cancer development, including the tumour microenvironment and metastasis. As evidenced by the expression pattern of ‘iron genes’ in malignant tumours, it is not simply associated with cancer, but also is indicative of a patient’s chances of survival2.

Our bodies have evolved to tightly partition and limit the amount of available iron. The iron deficiency anemia that is observed in cancer patients may actually be the bodies response to the presence of cancer. By limiting the availability of iron in circulation, there is less available for the cancer to utilize. If the patient is given iron then you are essentially fighting against the bodies effort to lower the iron levels.

There are a number of different studies that clearly show a strong connection between low iron levels and decreased cancer risk. It is well documented that people who regularly donate blood have lower rates of developing cancer3. This is likely connected to decreased iron levels following donation of blood. A popular natural cancer therapy called curcumin, acts as a potent natural chelator of iron5. It is thought that some of the observed anti-cancer properties might be due to the fact that it powerfully sequesters iron away from cancer cells6.

Recent research indicates that tumours create their own iron-rich micro-environment to evade constraints that are imposed by limited systemic iron availability. Cancer cells will sequester iron and it is possible that this allows the cancer cells to mutate more quickly. Iron reacts with oxygen to produce free radicals that damage DNA. Normally this is not desirable, however, this allows cancer cells to adapt more quickly to different conditions when the DNA is being constantly damaged on a low level. This consistent damage from excess iron is thought to increase the mutation rate of the DNA within the cancer cells. This recent evidence for regulation of iron in the tumour micro-environment represents a new paradigm in iron biology4.

Of course there are some situations where iron must be prescribed but it should not be done unnecessarily. Many effective cancer therapies work by actually decreasing the level of iron in the blood. If the red blood cells are reduced in number and smaller than normal (low MCV) then you very likely have iron deficiency anemia. It is very important to also check the level of ferritin to check on your bodies ability to transport iron.

A Naturopathic doctor that works with oncology will take the time to look at your case and will write you a prescription for iron if it is truly indicated. 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, Yaletown Naturopathic Clinic, in Vancouver, BC where he focuses on integrative cancer treatments.

1) Hanahan D, Weinberg RA. Hallmarks of cancer: the next generation. Cell. 2011;144:646–674. [PubMed]

2) Miller LD, et al. An iron regulatory gene signature predicts outcome in breast cancer. Cancer Res. 2011;71:6728–6737. [PMC free article]

3) Edgren G, et al. Donation frequency, iron loss, and risk of cancer among blood donors. J. Natl Cancer Inst. 2008;100:572–579. [PubMed]

4) Torti, Suzy V., and Frank M. Torti. “Iron and cancer: more ore to be mined.” Nature Reviews Cancer 13.5 (2013): 342-355.

5) Jiao Y, et al. Iron chelation in the biological activity of curcumin. Free Radic. Biol. Med. 2006;40:1152–1160. [PubMed]

6) Jiao Y, et al. Curcumin, a cancer chemopreventive and chemotherapeutic agent, is a biologically active iron chelator. Blood. 2009;113:462–469. [PMC free article]

Heartburn Medications and Cancer May 12, 2015

Posted by Dreamhealer in Healing.
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heartburn acid reflux

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

Many cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy have constant disturbances in their gastrointestinal tract. Heartburn is very common in these patients and it is frequently treated with a class of drugs called proton pump inhibitors (PPI’s). Some common PPI’s are Pariet, Losec, Nexium and Tecta. There is no question that these drugs are effective at controlling heart burn symptoms. These drugs dramatically suppress the stomach’s ability to produce acid. When patients are on these drugs long term it can be difficult to discontinue them because heart burn symptoms reappear whenever they miss a dose. In the context of cancer there are other options that can be considered before using PPI’s.

There is a class of drugs called H2-receptor antagonists and these drugs are also very effective at reducing stomach acid production. The reduction in stomach acid tends to be short term and patients do not become as dependent on these medications compared to PPI’s. The most researched drug of this class in the context of cancer is Cimetidine, also known as Tagamet. There is a substantial body of evidence which indicates that Tagamet is also an effective adjunctive cancer therapy1,2,3,4. The conclusion from one major study was, “These results clearly indicate that Cimetidine treatment dramatically improved survival in colorectal cancer patients with tumour cells expressing high levels of sLx and sLa.”1

An interesting double blind study was completed in 1988 which showed that survival was significantly enhanced in patients who took cimetidine 400mg two times per day for 2 years after gastric cancer surgery6. Many of these gastrointestinal cancers are stimulated by histamine and cimetidine blocks this effect7. The use of cimetidine as an adjunctive cancer therapy tends to be very indicated for gastric and colon cancers.

The exact mechanism of this anti-cancer effect is still not fully understood. Cimetidine is thought to target a class of molecules known as cadherins and by doing so it reduces the risk of metastasis. In Asia it is commonly used in conjunction with the chemotherapy 5-FU to treat colorectal cancers and this has resulted in significant increases in patient survival1. It appears that there are other pathways involved with this anti-cancer effect. Regardless of the mechanism it is clear that this medication has potential as an adjunctive cancer therapy in patients with colorectal cancer.

It is important to point out that this drug is not appropriate for everyone as there are a number of potential interactions. It is metabolized through the P450 pathway5 and this is the same pathway that many other drugs are metabolized through. This is not an absolute contraindication but you have to be careful about the dosing and often it is best to slowly introduce the Cimetidine. It is essential that you have a Naturopathic oncologist who is familiar with the use of Cimetidine look through all of your medications to determine 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 cancer treatments. Vist Yaletown Naturopathic Clinic for more information.


1) Matsumoto, S., et al. “Cimetidine increases survival of colorectal cancer patients with high levels of sialyl Lewis-X and sialyl Lewis-A epitope expression on tumour cells.” British journal of cancer 86.2 (2002): 161-167.

2) Kobayashi, Ken-ichi, et al. “Cimetidine inhibits cancer cell adhesion to endothelial cells and prevents metastasis by blocking E-selectin expression.” Cancer research 60.14 (2000): 3978-3984.

3) Kubecova, Martina, et al. “Cimetidine: An anticancer drug?.” European Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences 42.5 (2011): 439-444.

4) Bolton, Elaine, Julie King, and David L. Morris. “H2-antagonists in the treatment of colon and breast cancer.” Seminars in cancer biology. Vol. 10. No. 1. Academic Press, 2000.

5) Levine M, Law EY, Bandiera SM, Chang TK, Bellward GD (February 1998). “In vivo cimetidine inhibits hepatic CYP2C6 and CYP2C11 but not CYP1A1 in adult male rats”. The Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics 284 (2): 493–9.

6) Burtin, Claude, et al. “Clinical improvement in advanced cancer disease after treatment combining histamine and H2-antihistaminics (ranitidine or cimetidine).” European Journal of Cancer and Clinical Oncology 24.2 (1988): 161-167.

7) Adams, W. J., J. A. Lawson, and D. L. Morris. “Cimetidine inhibits in vivo growth of human colon cancer and reverses histamine stimulated in vitro and in vivo growth.” Gut 35.11 (1994): 1632-1636.

“My Doctor told me to avoid Blueberries? But Chocolate is ok!” April 28, 2015

Posted by Dreamhealer in Alternative medicine, Cancer, Integrative Medicine.
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Written by: Dr. Adam McLeod, ND, BSc(Hons)

I frequently hear from patients that their Medical Doctor bluntly told them to forget changing their diet because it does not make a difference, even though this is not accurate based on a large body of scientific evidence. I was very surprised to hear a patient tell me that their doctor told them to specifically avoid blueberries. This was the only dietary recommendation that they were given.

When I asked why the doctor prescribed such a bizarre dietary change the patient replied that the antioxidants from blueberries can interfere with the chemotherapy and radiation. Although I was happy to hear that this doctor was offering dietary advice, unfortunately this advice is not accurate. There is no evidence to suggest that antioxidants from natural sources are dangerous during chemotherapy or radiation. In fact, virtually all of the literature clearly states the opposite which is that it is very beneficial to get antioxidants from natural sources. By consuming antioxidant rich foods patients have less side effects during chemotherapy and radiation. Many studies have also clearly demonstrated that these foods do not interfere with the effectiveness of these conventional therapies2,3,4,5,6,7.

It is interesting to note that of all the foods in the world this doctor only picked one item: blueberries. I am not sure of the rationale with this recommendation because there are countless foods that have antioxidant properties. Although blueberries are commonly associated with being antioxidants they are not very potent antioxidants when compared to other common foods. The antioxidant capacity of a food is measured by a lab test which determines the ability of that food to neutralize free radicals. This is commonly known as the Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) and a quick google search will clearly demonstrate that blueberries do not even make the top 50 for antioxidant capacity. These values are based on biological samples in vitro and it is not clear how significant these values are in the human body. What is clear, is that these values are a measure of the antioxidant capacity of these foods.

Depending on which source you look at blueberries have a ORAC value of approximately 6,500 which is not particularly high when compared to cinnamon which has an ORAC value of 265,000. In other words cinnamon is approximately 40 times stronger of an antioxidant compared to blueberries. Of course one could argue that you do not have as much cinnamon as blueberries, which is indeed true. However there are other foods consumed in comparable amounts to blueberries which have a significantly higher antioxidant capacity. Unsweetened cocoa powder has an ORAC value of 81,000 and baking chocolate has an ORAC value of 50,000. If you are having a food rich in chocolate then chances are you are consuming more antioxidants than if you are having blueberries1,8.

I am not suggesting that chocolate should be a primary source of antioxidants. I would certainly prefer that my patients get their antioxidants from blueberries rather than chocolate. There are many bioflavonoids in blueberries that are helpful in the context of cancer and the elevations in blood sugar from excessive chocolate consumption is not desirable in cancer patients. The point is that it is silly to single out one food as a antioxidant concern. The reality is that if you really want to cut antioxidants out of your diet it would involve much more than the elimination of blueberries. The advice of avoiding blueberries is confusing and it is simply not an evidence based dietary plan.

The bottom line is that these natural sources of antioxidants are very helpful in the context of cancer and there is no debate about this in the scientific community. The debate is around synthetic supplementation with high doses of antioxidants during chemotherapy and radiation. Natural sources are well established to be beneficial in these cases as they protect healthy cells without interfering with the effects of these conventional therapies5. So make sure you eat your blueberries and give your cells the nutrients that they need!

Blueberries are a great source of nutrients and they provide a balanced antioxidant support that is synergistic with chemotherapy and radiation. What is particularly interesting is that wild blueberries are much more effective at neutralizing free radicals when compared to cultivated blueberries. Depending on which measurements you use, in some cases the wild blueberries have almost double the antioxidant capacity!

If you are undergoing chemotherapy or radiation make sure that you contact a Naturopathic Doctor to develop an evidence based treatment plan that can support you through these therapies. During chemotherapy or radiation your cells are under a significant amount of stress and it is essential that you adequately supply your cells with the necessary nutrients. Diet is an important component of any integrative cancer therapy.

Dr. Adam McLeod is a Naturopathic Doctor (ND), BSc. (Hons) Molecular biology, First Nations Healer, Motivational Speaker and International Best Selling Authorhttp://www.dreamhealer.com

His clinical focus is integrative cancer care and he currently practices as at Yaletown Naturopathic Clinic in Vancouver, BC. http://www.yaletownnaturopathic.com


1) Haytowitz, David B., and Seema Bhagwat. “USDA database for the oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC) of selected foods, Release 2.” US Department of Agriculture(2010).

2) Moss, Ralph W. “Should patients undergoing chemotherapy and radiotherapy be prescribed antioxidants?.” Integrative cancer therapies 5.1 (2006): 63-82.

3) Simone, Charles B., et al. “Antioxidants and other nutrients do not interfere with chemotherapy or radiation therapy and can increase kill and increase survival, part 1.”Alternative therapies in health and medicine 13.1 (2007): 22.

4) Drisko, Jeanne A., Julia Chapman, and Verda J. Hunter. “The use of antioxidant therapies during chemotherapy.” Gynecologic oncology 88.3 (2003): 434-439.

5) Moss, Ralph W. “Do antioxidants interfere with radiation therapy for cancer?.” Integrative cancer therapies 6.3 (2007): 281-292.

6) Conklin, Kenneth A. “Cancer chemotherapy and antioxidants.” The Journal of nutrition134.11 (2004): 3201S-3204S.

7) Block, Keith I., et al. “Impact of antioxidant supplementation on chemotherapeutic toxicity: a systematic review of the evidence from randomized controlled trials.” International Journal of Cancer 123.6 (2008): 1227-1239.

8) Vertuani, Silvia, et al. “Evaluation of Antiradical Activity of Different Cocoa and Chocolate Products: Relation with Lipid and Protein Composition.” Journal of medicinal food 17.4 (2014): 512-516.

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