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Part I. Basic Holistic Steps to Address Cancer

Sangeeta Pati, MD, FACOG

Whether you have cancer, you had cancer or you don’t want cancer, the questions that you find yourself asking are; Is cancer preventable? What can I do to prevent a recurrence? What are the holistic options available for cancer? What evidence supports these options? Will these options compliment or contradict my current treatments? 

As I see more cancer cases, I find myself looking for these answers and I have acknowledged the importance of having some understanding of factors that contribute to cancer in the first place. In Part I of this series, I will discuss some basic holistic steps that address these contributing factors and apply to everyone. In Part II, I will discuss therapies that may compliment traditional cancer treatments. 

You can change your entire experience with cancer simply by knowing that there are many things you can do to influence a great outcome

Most cancers are preventable . It is great news that most cancers are not genetic. Only 9 out of 100 breast cancers cases are accounted for by identifiable genetics. Only 6 out of 100 prostate cancers are accounted for by genetics. So, over 90% of cancers cases are accounted for by correctable factors that weaken the immune system. 

A weak immune system allows cancer cells to grow. Every day cancer cells form in the body, and every day the healthy immune system identifies and eliminates these abnormally dividing cells. When the immune system is weak, a cancer cell can multiply from one cell to two cells then to four cells and eventually to masses at detectable sizes of 0.5 to 1.0 cm. This process can take from 5 to 20 years depending on the aggressiveness of the cancer and the strength of the immune system. Even if a cancer grows, a weak immune system can regain strength and shrink or even completely eliminate a growing cancer. This is referred to as a spontaneous regression. So, what can you do to strengthen your immune system?

Most importantly, set your intention to be well. There is currently a growing body of literature supporting the effect of our thoughts on the immune system. Believing, “My cells are healthy and happy.” releases neurotransmitters that stimulate the immune system. The belief, “ I fear I am sick.” releases an entirely different set of neurotransmitters that depress the immune system.  Once you decide to be well; there are 5 main areas you can address:

  1. Reduce stress to the mind and the body. Mental and physical stressors deplete the body’s reserve of immune-protective nutrients and hormones. Whether it is a painful knee, bad news, a flat tire, a sick family member, a buzzing phone, drama or a commitment; neurons fire and deplete the body’s reserve. Of course, there are those stressors that will occur without your choosing; however you can be selective about where you choose to commit your energies, reserve and time.
  • Say “No” more often. Make fewer commitments.
  • Turn your phone off.
  • Honor what’s in your highest interest.
  • Surround yourself with the healing energy of nature at least once a day.
  • Ground yourself to the earth with your bare feet.
  • Aerobic exercise, like walking 30 minutes a day, has been shown to reduce breast cancer by over 50%.
  • Protect 8 hours of continuous restorative sleep.
  1. Correct nutrient deficiencies. Vitamin D levels above 50 ng/ml are associated with a 50% reduction in breast cancer. Excellent data exists to prove that nutrient deficiencies lead to genetic damage, which eventually lead to cancer cell proliferation. Data also shows that reversal of nutrient deficiencies can reverse the genetic damage. Further great news is that you can measure your individual nutrient status by a blood test called Spectracell™, which is covered by most insurance companies. After measuring your individual nutrient status, you can correct deficiencies:
    • The best corrections come from food sources rather than supplements. For example, nature provides Vitamin C in citrus with all the bioflavonoids needed to use the Vitamin C.
    • Organic foods have more nutrients and less carcinogenic pesticides. Also, organic foods do not contain GMO’s (Genetically Modified Organisms), the effect of which currently remains unknown in humans.
    • Work towards a diet of 50% vegetables in every meal and 30 grams of fiber per day. Less cooking means more protective nutrients. The more colors the better.
    • If you use supplements, avoid preservatives and fillers.
  2. Reduce inflammation in the gut. 75% of the immune system lies in our intestines. Those of you who have heartburn, reflux, indigestion, bloating, allergies and IBS symptoms have inflammation in the intestines. Inflammation leads to degenerative disease and a suppressed immune system.
    • According to studies from Cornell University, the best way to correct inflammation in the intestines and the body is to reduce inflammatory animal proteins especially casein (from cow’s dairy). Casein, which accounts for 87% of cow’s milk protein, has been shown to increase the proliferation of cancer cells.
    • Avoid inflammatory foods such as refined flour and sugar.
    • Avoid food that is fried, pan-fried or charred, as these have been shown to release active carcinogenic forms of “amines” according to the National Cancer Institute.
    • Maintain protective bacteria in the gut by taking an upper and lower intestine pro-biotic and eating more fermented foods.
    One of the strongest measures you can take against cancer is to reduce inflammation in the gut.
  3. Reduce exposure to toxins. If you review the National Cancer Institute (NCI) website and the American Cancer Society, you will find a list of substances that are known carcinogens and those that are suspected carcinogens. Many of these compounds are found in our foods, plastics, water, cleaning products, and body care products. As an example, according to the NCI, aspartame and saccharin are known carcinogens in animals; however they remain in our food supply.
  • The simplest way to enhance the elimination of toxins from the body is to drink 64 ounces of pure water with a fresh lemon and sea salt. As the pH of our tissues rise, toxins are eliminated.
  • Read the labels on your food and body products and ask questions.
    The most important step you can take here is to increase your awareness of avoidable toxins, reduce your exposure and congratulate yourself for any step you take without going overboard.
  1. Reduce hormonal imbalances. As hormones become imbalanced cancer incidence rises. Studies show that low progesterone levels and high toxic estrogens (like estrones) are associated with breast cancer. Low levels of testosterone and high estrogen are associated with prostate cancer. Melatonin hormone is a strong stimulator of Natural Killer cells, which destroy cancer cells. Melatonin levels fall by over 50% by age 50. Measuring and addressing hormone imbalances is protective.

Conclusion. Once the stage is set to optimize the immune system with the above basic steps, there are several specific therapies, which may compliment the current options offered for cancer. These include botanical immune boosters, regional hyperthermia, IV anti-oxidants, oxygen and stem cell therapies, which I will discuss in Part 2 of this article.You can change your entire experience with cancer simply by knowing that there are many things you can do to influence a great outcome. In the meantime, set your intention to be well and congratulate yourself for any step you decide to adopt towards your healthy, happy future!