Thursday, November 30, 2006

Charlie Rose interviews Amory Lovins

Amory Lovins has written a book commissioned by the Pentagon called "oils end game". Amory Lovins is the founder and president of the Rocky Mountain Institute. He is a consultant and author about energy policy. While this is is not about cancer. I found this interview tremendously uplifting and that is health promoting all by itself. Hope is good. Illness is in part a function of how we feel not to mention the environmental toxicity caused by petroleum use.

The disenheartening situation of the world (sectarian wars, mullim vs. liberalism, global warming, wars for oil etc..) all have a solution through the market driven fuel economy according to Amory Lovins. It is a real solution to a real problem and there ain't nothing better than that.

click on the title which will link you to watch the video.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Cancer survivors: Late effects of cancer treatment

Your treatment is over, but your risk of side effects goes on. You might be surprised to know that side effects can continue after your cancer treatment or even develop several years later. Some cancer survivors wonder why they weren't told about the possibility of lingering side effects before they began treatment.

The fact is that not much is known about late effects. While the lack of information can be frustrating for cancer survivors, don't feel completely helpless. Find out all you can about late effects of cancer treatment and use this information to take control of your health.

link to article

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Aspartame deemed safe by National Cancer Institute

The confusion, at least it seems, may finally be cleared up, thanks to a study conducted by the National Cancer Institute. After surveying over 340,000 men and 225,000 women from 1995 to 2000, researchers found that the development of any of the three above-mentioned cancers was not any higher in people who regularly consumed aspartame than those who reportedly did not. While survey studies can sometimes produce slightly inaccurate results (due to several factors, including the "testing effect").

This comment was originally posted at

Alex wrote:

Artificial sweetners are a profitable and large and highly politicized business. I don't trust this research by the NCI on this one. Or maybe it doesn't exactly cause cancer, but Aspartame is not something that I recommend ingesting. There are at least two great sugar substitutes. There are many respected authorities in nutrition and integrated medicine that can detail why Nutrasweet (Aspartame) is a problem. I think the science is pretty clear.

For a different perspective, I have written about this on my own blog.

Acupuncture Works Really Well for Hot Flashes

This comes from a syndicated column that I found from the People's Pharmacy. I have seen their Q and A column in the LA Times Health Secotion every Monday.

A woman writes in:

I have had such success with an alternative therapy that I wanted to get the word out.

I was a premenopausal breast-cancer patient two years ago. My tumor was estrogen positive, so I have to avoid any sort of estrogen compound, including plant-based estrogen products. (It is still not known if plant-based estrogen could hurt someone with my type of breast cancer.)

I take tamoxifen to prevent a cancer recurrence. This drug acts as an "anti-estrogen" in breast tissue.

I was thrown into chemical menopause after chemotherapy and have experienced symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia and bone and joint pain.

I just tried acupuncture (four sessions so far) and have had unbelievable success in curbing hot flashes and night sweats. My daytime hot flashes have virtually disappeared. The night sweats still occur occasionally, but much less often than before. As a result, my sleep is much improved, and I am not waking up in the middle of the night.

Thanks for sharing your experience. Acupuncture has been used for a range of conditions. We were unaware that it might be helpful for hot flashes.

Now the folks at the People's Pharmacy know and so do you.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Traditional Chinese Medicine and Cancer Research: Fostering Collaborations; Advancing the Science

Archived webcasts of the first and third days (April 10 and 12, 2006) of the conference Traditional Chinese Medicine and Cancer Research: Fostering Collaborations; Advancing the Science are available.

April 10, 2006
Total Running Time: 6 hours and 14 minutes

April 12, 2006
Total Running Time: 3 hours and 20 minutes

The purpose of this conference was to enlighten NCI staff about the application of various Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) modalities for cancer prevention, treatment, and symptom management. With increased knowledge about the use and potential of TCM for cancer, this conference was created to engage and facilitate discussion on the role that NCI should play in furthering research in this area.

Please Note: In order to view the webcasts, you will require RealPlayer installed on your machine. You can download the latest version of the player from the RealNetworks web site at:

Beyond needling-therapeutic processes in acupuncture care: a qualitative study nested within a low-back pain trial.

This is an interesting report because it gets at the complexity of the relationship between the acupuncture practitioner (myself) and the patient. This kind of qualitative analysis is part of the reason why acupuncture may be sought after. Never mind that it is about a back pain intervention. It could be about any condition. Keep in mind that most acupuncture studies about a particular condition do not take into account doctor-patient communication and instead focus on the intervention alone.
Six acupuncturists who treated up to 25 patients each were interviewed after the treatment phase of the trial to obtain an account of their experiences of providing acupuncture care to patients with low back pain referred by their GP. Using semistructured interviews and a topic guide, data were collected and analyzed for both a priori and emergent themes....

Study participants confirmed the importance of three processes that characterized acupuncture care in this trial, each contributing to the goal of a positive long-term outcome; building a therapeutic relationship; individualizing care; and facilitating the active engagement of patients in their own recovery. Acupuncturists described elements of care that characterized these processes including establishing rapport, facilitating communication throughout the period of care, using an interactive diagnostic process, matching treatment to the individual patient, and the use of explanatory models from Chinese medicine to aid the development of a shared understanding of the patient's condition and to motivate lifestyle changes that reinforce the potential for a recovery of health. Acupuncturists did not view these therapeutic goals, processes, and strategies as a departure from their usual practice.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Improving Quality of Life After Chemotherapy
Alex Berks L. Ac .

After active treatment is a time when patients often feel at a loss. The frequent treatments, follow ups and consultations have ended, but the fear of recurrence and side-effects of treatment may not have not gone away. The transition away from the aggressive fight to a care that is not as defined leaves many wanting. The physical body may be very different than the one that was there before cancer. Old ailments may flare up like allergies or excema and new problems may compound the picture. Complimentary and natural health strategies in the post-treatment phase help fill the gap not only on the physical level and also provide much needed calm. The importance of nutrition, exercise, and related lifestyle factors take center stage along with acupuncture and Chinese Medicine.

In a study of 551 breast cancer survivors. Two-thirds (66%) of the women used at least one CAM (complimentary and Alternative Medicine) therapy during the previous 12 months, and the majority of them perceived that their CAM use was without the recommendation of their doctor. Relaxation/meditation, herbs, spiritual healing, and megavitamins were used most often. Significant predictors of CAM use included younger age, higher education, and private insurance. The majority of the CAM therapies were perceived by their users to be at least "moderately important" in remaining free of cancer. The reasons given for using CAM were to enhance overall quality of life, to feel more in control, to strengthen the immune system, and to reduce stress. Those surveyed stated that CAM use did not reflect negative attitudes towards conventional medical care, but rather an orientation to self-care in the optimization of their health and well being. Altern Ther Health Med. 2004 Jan-Feb;10(1):52-7 .

Often people think of health as the absence of disease and although that is huge especially for a cancer patient, real health is the person functioning at peak and optimal performance physically, mentally and emotionally without limitation by energy, pain, nor dysfunction of body systems. Optimal health may look different depending upon your individual circumstances. Not everyone will return to their pre-diagnosis life the same as they do after treatment, nor should they.

Rachel Naomi Remen, a doctor and author of Kitchen Table wisdom says, "Sometimes what appears to be a catastrophe, over time becomes a strong foundation from which to live a good life. It's possible to live a good life even though it isn't an easy life. And I think that's one of the best kept secrets in America." I see people with cancer and other people who have encountered very difficult experiences in their lives as teachers of wisdom. It's as if the repository of the wisdom to live well is with the sick people in our culture." (For the full interview click here ).

Making choices to live well should include natural medicine. Blood markers may be used to design a recovery program, along with measurements of nutritional or hormonal status. Other times, by looking at the pattern of imbalance within Chinese medicine customized herbal combinations are formulated to address the individuals' presentation. Acupuncture helps to relieve pain, reduce inflammation restore normalcy to every body system and calm the mind.

Perhaps a surgery recovery program will address your needs. Each person is unique in what they may need.

The proverb, "life is suffering, pain is optional", can be understood that life is difficult, there is much suffering, but how we react to this circumstance is what can determine the quality of our life. This and staying healthy with natural medicine may keep you away from reoccurence or retard a cancer's growth.

Alex Berks is a Chinese Medicine Practitioner practicing Acupuncture, herbal and nutritional medicine in West Los Angeles
to find out more about his supportive oncology practice go to
or visit his cancer related blog.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Chemotherapy and Viagra

I recently joined the Oncology Association of Naturopathic Physicians.
I found this post from a Naturopath in Denver, Jacob Schor.

Imagine you have cancer and tomorrow morning some nurse is going to pump you full of Adriamycin. What do you do to get ready?

Believe it or not, you should pop some Viagra. Viagra increases nitric oxide in your blood, which in turn will make the chemotherapy more effective at destroying cancer cells and, at the same time, protect your heart from chemo-caused toxicity.

Adriamycin, the brand name for the drug doxorubicin, is a common chemotherapy drug used to treat a range of different cancers. It comes with a price. The killing action of Adriamycin is nonspecific and injures healthy cells as well as cancer cells. It is worthwhile to look for ways to increase the benefits of using it while looking for ways to lessen the harm. Increasing benefit translates as increasing Adriamycin's cancer cell killing effect. Decreasing harm means decreasing the damage to organs like the heart, liver and kidney.

A 2004 study showed you could increase the effect of Adriamycin by adding nitric oxide to the mix. Breast cancer cells exposed to nitric oxide (NO) 30 minutes before treatment were much more sensitive to Adriamycin. Adriamycin treatment alone killed 60% of the cancer cells, but pre-treating the cells with NO and then treating with Adriamycin killed 95% of the cancer cells in the experiment. [i]

For the full text click here

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Research Finds Antioxidant Therapies Do Not Interfere with Radiation Treatment

CHICAGO, Nov. 9 /PRNewswire/ -- Cancer patients can get the vital nutritional benefits from taking antioxidants without the risk of interfering with radiation treatment, according to research findings being presented this weekend at the Society of Integrative Oncology's Third International Conference in Boston. The Society for Integrative Oncology is a non-profit organization of oncologists and other health professionals studying and integrating effective complementary therapies in cancer care.

The study, Effect of Concomitant Naturopathic Therapies on Clinical Tumor Response to External Beam Radiation Therapy for Prostate Cancer, was conducted by researchers at Cancer Treatment Centers of America and reviewed PSA levels of prostate cancer patients after receiving radiation therapy. Researchers found no difference between patients taking antioxidants and those who did not. Antioxidants used in the study included green tea extract, melatonin, high-potency multivitamins, vitamin C and vitamin E.

Study Reveals Low Folate Diets Increase Risk of Colorectal Cancer

Nov 9,2006-The MUHC study is the first to demonstrate directly that diets low in folate cause colorectal cancer, and follows on the heels of earlier research by the same team that revealed how high folate diets can protect against heart disease. For the whole story click here

Folate helps with tissue growth and cell function. It works alongside vitamin B12 and vitamin C to help the body digest and use proteins, and is necessary for the production of red blood cells.
Find out more about folic acid click here.

Folic acid has to do with DNA replication and thus is a mechanism that is manipulated by the drug Methotrexate, used to treat some cancers and to control some autoimmune diseases. Folic acid is also very important in pregnancy to prevent neural tube defects aka spina abifida. Approximately 10% of the population does not absorb folic acid well and this can be a risk for pregancy related problems and heart disease. For more information on folic acid folic acid absorption problems click here.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Targeting Angiogenesis With Integrative Cancer Therapies

Donald R. Yance, Jr, MH

Center for Natural Healing, Ashland, Oregon

Stephen M. Sagar, MD

Juravinski Cancer Centre and McMaster University, Department of Medicine, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada,

An integrative approach for managing a patient with cancer should target the multiple biochemical and physiological pathways that support tumor development while minimizing normal tissue toxicity. Angiogenesis is a key process in the promotion of cancer. Many natural health products that inhibit angiogenesis also manifest other anticancer activities. The authors will focus on natural health products (NHPs) that have a high degree of antiangiogenic activity but also describe some of their many other interactions that can inhibit tumor progression and reduce the risk of metastasis. NHPs target various molecular pathways besides angiogenesis, including epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), the HER-2/neu gene, the cyclooxygenase-2 enzyme, the NF-kB transcription factor, the protein kinases, Bcl-2 protein, and coagulation pathways. The herbalist has access to hundreds of years of observational data on the anticancer activity of many herbs. Laboratory studies are confirming the knowledge that is already documented in traditional texts. The following herbs are traditionally used for anticancer treatment and are antiangiogenic through multiple interdependent processes that include effects on gene expression, signal processing, and enzyme activities: Artemisia annua (Chinese wormwood), Viscum album (European mistletoe), Curcuma longa (turmeric), Scutellaria baicalensis (Chinese skullcap), resveratrol and proanthocyanidin (grape seed extract), Magnolia officinalis (Chinese magnolia tree), Camellia sinensis (green tea), Ginkgo biloba, quercetin, Poria cocos, Zingiber officinale (ginger), Panax ginseng, Rabdosia rubescens (rabdosia), and Chinese destagnation herbs. Quality assurance of appropriate extracts is essential prior to embarking on clinical trials. More data are required on dose response, appropriate combinations, and potential toxicities. Given the multiple effects of these agents, their future use for cancer therapy probably lies in synergistic combinations. During active cancer therapy, they should generally be evaluated in combination with chemotherapy and radiation. In this role, they act as biological response modifiers and adaptogens, potentially enhancing the efficacy of the so-called conventional therapies. Their effectiveness may be increased when multiple agents are used in optimal combinations. New designs for trials to demonstrate activity in human subjects are required. Although controlled trials might be preferred, smaller studies with appropriate end points and surrogate markers for antiangiogenic response could help prioritize agents for the larger resource-intensive phase 3 trials.

Download the full text of this article for free.

See previous article on Avastin. Many herbs work on the VEGF pathway.

Cancer patients desperate for options

Cancer patients desperate for options

By Dahleen Glanton

Chicago Tribune

GREENWOOD, Miss. - Abraham Cherrix never set out to be an advocate for alternative medicine. He is just a 16-year-old with cancer who refused to undergo a second round of chemotherapy and went to court to fight for his right not to have it.

In a court-ordered compromise, the Virginia teenager landed at the North Central Mississippi Regional Cancer Center, one of a new breed of cancer facilities in the United States that integrate conventional medicine and alternative therapies.

Cherrix's struggle to use herbs and diet supplements to fight Hodgkin's disease, a cancer of the lymphatic system - rather than have a series of debilitating rounds of chemotherapy - has brought attention to a growing movement in the U.S. to bring alternative medicine into the mainstream.

For the whole story click here.

Alex's comment: Good thing for this young man is that Hodgkins disease is the cancer that is best treated with chemotherapy. Thus it follows that because of this there would be natural treatments that would be effective. This has been my experience with Hodgkins, but I don't advocate going it alone like this guy did either

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Drug Doesn't Improve Cancer Survivial Very Much

Avastin plus chemotherapy "is the first therapy in 10 years to improve on standard first-line treatment for advanced lung cancer and the first FDA approved therapy ever to extend survival for these patients beyond one year in a large, randomized clinical study," Alan Sandler, MD, says in Genentech's news release.

"For decades, we've known that standard chemotherapy can improve survival for lung cancer patients, but we have not made improvements in survival beyond the gains made using that approach," Licthenfeld notes.

"That makes even the modest improvement in survival provided by Avastin important," he says.

Fifty-one percent of those receiving Avastin plus chemotherapy survived for at least one year, compared with 44% of those who got chemotherapy without Avastin, according to Genentech.

On average, patients who received Avastin plus chemotherapy lived one year, compared with 10 months for patients treated with chemotherapy alone.

Alex writes: So by taking this drug patients with advanced lung cancer got an additonal two months of life. It is better than nothing but not that great. But wait there is more.

Avastin, which is given intravenously, is not a new drug.

The FDA first approved it in February 2004 for use in combination with chemotherapy to treat metastatic colorectal cancer (cancer that has spread beyond the colon or rectum).

Avastin is believed to target a growth factor called VEGF (vascular endothelial growth factor). By blocking the action of VEGF, Avastin hampers the growth of new blood vessels that bring blood to tumor.

Basically, the strategy is to deprive tumors of their blood supply, thereby starving them. Such drugs are called angiogenesis inhibitors.

What foods and herbs will do this? Stay tuned

Protein and Super foods – helping the “phyt” against cancer

Guest blogged by Vanessa Bathfield, Personal Chef

There was always a reason why your mother made you eat broccoli and carrots as a child. Mother always said it was good for you, even though you may have cringed and she may not have specifically known why. Today researchers and scientist are proving her right.

These are some of the now classed “super foods” that aren’t just healthy ingredients; these contain cancer fighting ingredients called phytochemicals.

Phytochemicals are chemicals in plants and vegetables that have disease preventive properties for humans. What nature has developed for plants to protect themselves from viruses and diseases, can help us homosapiens to fight the same things.

Here’s the list of top ten super foods from the The Cancer Lifeline cookbook

1. Broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and vegetables from the cruciferous family.
These contain indoles which increase liver enzyme activities to detoxify carcinogens from the body. Researchers have found that people who eat more of these types of vegetables reduce their risk of lung, stomach, colon, rectum and prostate cancers.
2. Beans and legumes including soy
Legumes are not only high in protein and an outstanding source of fiber but they are rich in saponines and cancer suppressors such as phytic acid. Saponins help by keeping normal cells from turning into cancer cells and prevent cancer cells from growing.
Soy contains isoflavones which is a class of phytoestrogens. These substances regulate hormone function in women. These have estrogen like effects and thus for breast cancer patients or breast cancer survivors it is best to consult your doctor regarding whether a diet containing soy is right for you. To read more about the soy controversy follow the isoflavone link above. ie... Soy can interact with Tamoxifen, a drug commonly used for prevention of breast cancer.
3. Berries and cherries
The dark blue, red and purple colors in berries are produced by anthocyanins a powerful antioxidant which protect cells from being damaged.
4. Onions, garlic, chives and vegetables from the Allium family
These are high in antioxidants called allyl sulfides that are a compound that acts as a cancer blocking or suppressing agent.
5. Carotenoid vegetables which are the deep orange, yellow, red and green vegetables such as (red peppers, carrots, yams, and spinach)
Carotenoids may protect against rapid cell production which possibly increases the risk of cancer. Again, these are high in antioxidants and studies have reported a relationship between low risk for cancer and high consumption of foods which contain antioxidants.
6. Fish
High in protein and rich is omega 3 fatty acids. Fish protects against cancer because it restricts the production of tumor promoters such as prostaglandins.
7. Tomatoes
High in lycopene a phytochemical that has several effects. As an antioxidant it stops free radicals from harming the DNA in cell membranes and it also restores communication between cells found in tumors and can signal their growth to halt.
8. Mushrooms particularly shiitake and maitake
Contain polysaccharides which stimulate the immune system and protect against cancer by allowing the immune system to destroy cancer cells.
9. Nuts and seeds, including flaxseed
An excellent source of protein and in nut butter formats are easy foods to digest particularly when undergoing cancer treatments. Some research has suggested that nuts help decrease prostate cancer. A caution to patients with estrogen-receptor positive cancers, flaxseeds should be eaten in moderation.
10. Green tea
Polyphenols found in green teas are known to inhibit compounds involved in tumor survival and metastasis. These may interact with medications that you may be taking so please consult with your medical practitioner.

Make it organic
Organic produce is grown without using harmful chemicals and toxins; this not only makes them taste better but is much healthier for the body.

Mix it with a heavy protein diet
It is recommended when working with patients undergoing cancer treatments that they have a high protein diet. Proteins are our natural building blocks. It seems logical then that when the body is undergoing intense stress and the need to repair itself and protect itself from infections, that more building blocks would be required than normal.

It is also optimal to try to get this protein from non-animal sources such as fish, legumes, grains and vegetable proteins. It is recommended that animal sources of protein be a secondary choice but if you must choose this then work with skinless chicken or turkey, eggs and low-fat cheeses. Avoid the processed meat products and red meats.

Adding additional sources of protein such as whey protein powder in almost everything you consume; can help gain the protein needed without having to eat heavy meals throughout the day.

Whilst all of this information is critical for cancer patients to help them be the strongest they can during a difficult time, we should all to heed to these dietary suggestions and benefits. If we didn’t believe our mothers before, we should believe the experts now!

As a personal chef I work with my clients to ensure that each menu plan not only meets their personal dietary preferences, but contain ingredients for optimal health!

Vanessa Bathfield, Personal Chef