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The Real Truth About Cancer February 22, 2016

Posted by Dr. Adam McLeod, ND 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 integrative cancer care 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, for more information about integrative cancer treatments please email info@yaletownnaturopathic.com. 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. 

Hyperthermia: An Emerging Adjunctive Cancer Therapy August 11, 2015

Posted by Dr. Adam McLeod, ND 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.

Heat: The Achilles Heel of Cancer June 2, 2014

Posted by Dr. Adam McLeod, ND in Alternative medicine, Cancer, Dreamhealer, Healing, Health, Integrative Medicine, naturopathic, Naturopathic Medicine, Naturopathy, Prostate Cancer, Research.
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vancouver naturopathic clinic

Heat: The Achilles Heel of Cancer

Written By: Dr. Adam McLeod, ND

It is a well established fact that cancer cells are vulnerable to heat1,2. On a cellular level it makes intuitive sense that cancer cells would be sensitive to heat. Normal cells are spatially arranged so that heat can be distributed evenly and they will not divide if they are physically in contact with adjacent cells. Cancer cells within a tumour will continue to divide regardless of the proximity of adjacent cells; this is one of the hallmarks of cancer. As a result of this uncontrolled growth, the cells in the tumour become densely packed together and this makes it very difficult for them to effectively distribute heat.

Hyperthermia treatment is rapidly becoming a mainstream therapy for patients undergoing chemotherapy and radiation. During these treatments the patients’ core body temperature is artificially raised to mimic a strong fever. This is not a pleasant experience for the patient but it is very effective at weakening the cancer cells. It makes these cancer cells more vulnerable to chemotherapy and radiation.

When any cell is exposed to heat there are immediate biochemical and genetic changes that occur so that the cell can adapt to the new warm environment. One of the most potent responses that allows these cells to survive the heat is the production of heat shock proteins (HSP)3. These HSPs protect components within the cell that are vulnerable to heat damage and during hyperthermia the production of these proteins within cancer cells is what allows them to survive. Currently there is a major push with pharmaceutical companies to develop drugs that inhibit these proteins.

There are several different natural compounds which are well documented heat shock protein inhibitors. These substances are safe when used in the right clinical context and you need to consult a Naturopathic Doctor to know if this is the best therapy for that specific type of cancer. One example is Quercetin, a bioflavonoid that is well documented as a potent inhibitor of heat shock proteins in cancer cells4,5,6,7,8,9.

Cancer cells are naturally very vulnerable to heat based on how densely the cells are packed together. When hyperthermia is combined with Quercetin the results are very dramatic10. In one study on prostate carcinoma they concluded that, “When combined in a treatment protocol with hyperthermia, Quercetin drastically inhibited tumour growth and potently amplified the effects of hyperthermia on two prostate tumour types, PC-3 and DU-145 in vivo. These experiments, thus, suggest the use of Quercetin as a hyperthermia sensitizer in the treatment of prostate carcinoma.”

It is extremely important to point out two things. Firstly, Quercetin is safe with most but not all chemotherapy drugs and you need professional guidance from a Naturopathic Doctor who focuses in cancer to know if this is safe for you. Secondly, the quality of the Quercetin supplement makes a big difference. Generally speaking Quercetin is very poorly absorbed and there are only a few professional brands of sufficient quality that are effective at sensitizing the cancer cells. In some cases, intravenous Quercetin is more appropriate.

The mainstream medical community is changing its tune with regards to hyperthermia. In private hospitals in the United States it is very commonly used because it is so effective. In Canada, there are only a handful of clinics that currently offer this therapy. As the evidence for this therapy accumulates, in the near future hyperthermia combined with these natural approaches will undoubtedly become the standard of care for cancer patients.

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 care. http://www.yaletownnaturopathic.com


1. Van der Zee J. Heating the patient: a promising approach? Ann Oncol, 2002. 13(8): p. 1173-84.

2. Van der Zee J and MC Erasmus. Hyperthermia in addition to radiotherapy. Clin Oncol (R Coll Radiol), 2007. 19(3 Suppl): S18.

3. De Maio A (January 1999). “Heat shock proteins: facts, thoughts, and dreams”. Shock (Augusta, Ga.) 11 (1):1-12.

4.  Hansen, R. K., et al. “Quercetin inhibits heat shock protein induction but not heat shock factor DNA-binding in human breast carcinoma cells.” Biochemical and biophysical research communications 239.3 (1997): 851-856.

5. Gonzalez, Oscar, et al. “The heat shock protein inhibitor Quercetin attenuates hepatitis C virus production.” Hepatology 50.6 (2009): 1756-1764.

6. Wei, Yu-quan, et al. “Induction of apoptosis by quercetin: involvement of heat shock protein.” Cancer Research 54.18 (1994): 4952-4957.

7. Zanini, Cristina, et al. “Inhibition of heat shock proteins (HSP) expression by quercetin and differential doxorubicin sensitization in neuroblastoma and Ewing’s sarcoma cell lines.” Journal of neurochemistry 103.4 (2007): 1344-1354.

8. Hosokawa, Nobuko, et al. “Flavonoids inhibit the expression of heat shock proteins.” Cell structure and function 15.6 (1990): 393-401.

9. Elia, Guiliano, and M. G. Santoro. “Regulation of heat shock protein synthesis by quercetin in human erythroleukaemia cells.” Biochem. J 300 (1994): 201-209.

10. Asea, A., et al. “Effects of the flavonoid drug quercetin on the response of human prostate tumours to hyperthermia in vitro and in vivo.” International journal of hyperthermia 17.4 (2001): 347-356.


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