Saturday, December 30, 2006

Essiac Tea Doesn't Show Much Promise

Several papers have been published on Essiac in the last few years and are worth noting.. One in particular is important because it suggests that using Essiac may be dangerous for patients with breast cancer.

Two papers are about Essiac and prostate cancer and are positive. In August 2004, the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine published a test tube study that showed that Essiac might inhibit prostate tumor cell growth. [ii] The Canadian Journal of Urology published, in October 2005, an anecdotal report about a 64-year-old man with prostate cancer who did well while taking Essiac. [iii]

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Herbs and Nutrients with Anti-cancer Activity Abound

Here I go again: More natural substances that have research as being effective in cancer in a number of ways:
  • Promoting apoptosis (cell death)
  • Inhibiting the known pathways that cancers use to develop ie... VEG-F or NF kappa B, MMPs (and that many new cancer drugs work on)
  • Decreasing the side effects of toxic cancer drugs.
So here are a few I came across in the last day:

Inhibitory effect of a mixture containing ascorbic acid, lysine, proline and green tea extract on critical parameters in angiogenesis.

This research is based on off the shelf nutrients available in probably any health food store.

The apoptotic effect of cordycepin on human OEC-M1 oral cancer cell line.

cordycepin is an extracted component of the chinese herb Cordyceps. I use it in my practice frequently to improve lung function.

Antiproliferative and apoptotic effects of silibinin in rat prostate cancer cells.

silibinin is an extracted component of Milk Thistle.

Baicalein induces apoptosis through ROS-mediated mitochondrial dysfunction pathway in HL-60 cells.

Baicalein is the exracted component of the chinese herb scutellaria huang qin. I use this herb frequently for many conditions.

If you click through to the links in the pubmed you will see numerous studies for each of the herbs and nutrients I have listed. The point is that there are many natural ways to prevent and treat cancer. This kind of stuff abounds. The use of these substances in the preventitive approach is relatively simple because everything listed here is non-toxic. How they may interact with on-going conventional therapy is another matter entirely that needs examination on a case by case basis.

Stress, Hormones and Cancer

I am fond of saying that "nothing ever gets better with emotional stress". Now, new research demonstrates this in the cancer realm. The overproduction of stress hormones/neurotransmitters causes cancers to grow in vitro and in a rat model.

Norepinephrine up-regulates the expression of vascular endothelial growth factor, matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-2, and MMP-9 in nasopharyngeal carcinoma tumor cells.

Chronic stress promotes tumor growth and angiogenesis in a mouse model of ovarian carcinoma.

When the animals were tightly confined in plastic chambers for several hours at a time — causing a surge in their stress hormones — the tumours multiplied in size and number and were far more likely to metastasize. But blocking the stress hormones stalled the spread of the cancer. Moreover, the cancer grew more slowly in mice restrained in groups.
Cancer is way more than aberrant cells and perhaps can be significantly impacted by stress reduction practices and things like acupuncture that modulate the sympathetic nervous system (flight or fight neurotransmitter/hormonal response) to stress. However the scientific research controversies about this play out the public is not waiting for a scientific consensus. Studies show that two thirds of cancer patients are pursuing complimentary and alternative practice and mostly not telling their Doctors!.

All this to me is like the debate over energy efficiency and fossil fules. Until recently fuel economy was not given a lot of credence by American automakers and energy policy designers due to the erroneous assumption that energy efficiency does not have that big an impact (see link to Amory Lovins talking about energy policy). Meanwhile the Japanese automakers kept their eye on fuel efficiency (and quality) and are now the most successful car manufacturers. The same is true for therapies and practices that reduce the stress response in cancer. They may not cure cancer (although they might) but they sure can improve the quality of life while a person is alive and sustain the length of time that it takes for aggressive metastasis to develop.

A little history is in order here:

The controversy (over mind-body medicine) started 15 years ago when a study conducted by researchers at Stanford University's medical school found — quite to their astonishment — that in a decade-long assessment, women with metastatic breast cancer assigned to support groups had survived an average of 18 months longer than those receiving no psychological support. Scientists have been bickering ever since.

A study by researchers at Toronto's Mount Sinai Hospital a few years back, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, was touted as the nail in the coffin of the theory that the mind can influence disease. An attempt to replicate the Stanford study, it divided 235 women with metastatic breast cancer at random between those attending support groups where they could share their thoughts and fears with other patients and those left to their own devices. It found no difference in survival. What the research did show, however, is a huge improvement in the women's moods and perceptions of their pain.

“We were also able to achieve significant improvement with depression, anxiety, psychosocial adaptation,” says Molyn Leszcz, head of psychiatry at Mount Sinai and the study's principal co-investigator. “We didn't hit a home run. A home run would have been to show a survival effect. But we had evidence we were doing something right.”

This comes from a very well written feature story, Cancer in the Mind's Eye for the Toronto Globe and Mail newspaper. The author is struggling with cancer herself. She also explains her journey into healing with Alastair Cunningham a scientist who has integrated spirituality into group therapy. He has also written a book, The Healing Journey: Overcoming the Crisis of Cancer. It looks fascinating. If anyone has read this book let me know.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Acupuncture's Secret: Blood Flow To Brain

In the competitive marketplace of medicine, the question arises for the consumer and the Doctor when to use acupuncture? With this study there is a bit more justification for it. The lesson here is that acupuncture can help control cravings, depression or pain when done properly. Now we know a bit more about the "how".
Rosen's team used functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging, or MRIs, on about 20 healthy volunteers before, during and after acupuncture. This type of brain scan shows changes in blood flow and the amount of oxygen in blood.

Researchers applied acupuncture needles to points on the hand linked to pain relief in traditional Chinese medicine. Blood flow decreased in certain areas of the brain within seconds of volunteers reporting a heaviness in their hands, a sign the acupuncture is working correctly, Rosen says. The needle technique is not supposed to hurt if done correctly. When a few subjects reported pain, their scans showed an increase of blood to the same brain areas.

''When there's less blood, the brain isn't working as hard, '' Rosen says. ''In effect, acupuncture is quieting down key regions of the brain.''

The specific brain areas affected are involved in mood, pain and cravings, Rosen says. This could help explain why some studies have found acupuncture helpful in treating depression, eating problems, addictions and pain.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Ganoderma aka Reishi mushroom effective in breast cancer treatment and prevention

2006 DEC 1 - ( -- Research conducted in the United States has provided new information about breast cancer.

Study 1: Ganoderma lucidum (link to wikipedia) could be used as a suitable herb for chemoprevention and chemotherapy of breast cancer via down-regulation of estrogen receptor and NF-kappa B signaling...

The researchers concluded, "Collectively, these results suggest that G. lucidum inhibits proliferation of human breast cancer cells and contain biologically active compounds with specificity against estrogen receptor and NF-kappa B signaling, and implicate G. lucidum as a suitable herb for chemoprevention and chemotherapy of breast cancer."

Jiang and colleagues published their study in International Journal of Oncology (Ganoderma lucidum inhibits proliferation of human breast cancer cells by down-regulation of estrogen receptor and NF-kappa B signaling. Int J Oncol, 2006;29(3):695-703).

Friday, December 15, 2006

Flavonoids and Vitamin E Reduce the Release of the Angiogenic Peptide Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor from Human Tumor Cells

Neoangiogenesis is required for tumor development and progression. Many solid tumors induce vascular proliferation by production of angiogenic factors, prominently vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). Because nutrition is a causative factor for tumor prevention and promotion, we determined whether secondary plant constituents, i.e., flavonoids, tocopherols, curcumin, and other substances regulate VEGF in human tumor cells in vitro. VEGF release (concurrent with synthesis) from MDA human breast cancer cells and, for comparison, U-343 and U-118 glioma cells was measured by ELISA. Of 21 compounds tested, 9 showed significant inhibitory activity at 0.1 µmol/L in MDA human breast cancer cells. The rank order of inhibitory potency was naringin > rutin > {alpha}-tocopheryl succinate ({alpha}-TOS) > lovastatin > apigenin > genistein > {alpha}-tocopherol ≥ kaempferol > {gamma}-tocopherol; chrysin and curcumin were inactive except at a concentration of 100 µmol/L. Glioma cells were similarly sensitive, with U343 more than U118, especially for {alpha}-TOS and tocopherols. Among the tocopherol derivatives, {alpha}-TOS (0.1 µmol/L) was the most effective in reducing VEGF release.
Overall, the glycosylated flavonoids (i.e., naringin, a constituent of citrus fruits, and rutin, a constituent of cranberries) induced the greatest response to treatment at the lowest concentration in MDA human breast cancer cells. Inhibition of VEGF release by flavonoids,%2

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Qing Hao - Artemisia Annua Works Better Than StandardChemo. For Oral Cancer Cell Line

Artemisinin is derived from a common Chinese Herb Artemisia Annua - Qing Hao. This extract has achieved great prominence because it has proved more effective than standard drugs for the treatment of malaria. Artemisinin has also shown amazing promise as an anticancer drug. In the following study it was tested in Vitro on an oral cancer cell line with better antitumor effect than commonly used chemo. agents:
CONCLUSION.: The deoxoartemisinin trimer was found to have greater antitumor effect on tumor cells than other commonly used chemotherapeutic drugs, such as 5-FU, cisplatin, and paclitaxel. Furthermore, the ability of artemisinin and its derivatives to induce apoptosis highlights their potential as chemotherapeutic agents, for many anticancer drugs achieve their antitumor effects by inducing apoptosis in tumor cells.

Do Cell Phones Cause Brain Tumors? A Neurosurgeons thoughts

Dr. Tedd Schwartz lays out compelling reasons why cell phones do not cause brain tumors.
In the early 90s, public concern over the possible dangers of electromagnetic energy increased based on reports of a possible link between power lines and a type of blood cancer called leukemia. In the past few years, exhaustive scientific research has proven this association to be false, but at that time, the answer was still unclear, which heightened public suspicion. The possible link between cell phones and brain tumors then got a media boost when David Raynard appeared on Larry King Live to discuss his lawsuit against the cell phone industry for the death of his wife, a frequent cell phone user, from a brain tumor.

Despite public concern, most of the evidence against cell phones can be classified as either "guilt by association" or confusing "correlation" with "causation". In other words, just because two events happen at the same time, it does not mean that one caused the other.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

What Happens To Your Body If You Drink A Coke Right Now?

A funny post on the physiology of drinking coke. It's like eating chicken. If you knew how a chicken is factory farmed and harvested you probably would be appalled and not eat it. The same thing with Coke.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Mushroom extract improves performance of Doxirubicin

The anticancer drug doxorubicin (Dox) has been shown to induce apoptosis (programmed cell death) in cancer cells. However, higher doses can damage healthy cells. In a study published in the British Journal of Cancer, the effect of the PL mushroom on Dox-induced apoptosis was investigated in prostate cancer cells.3 Researchers showed that PL or Dox, at relatively low doses, could not kill these cells. However, combination treatment at low doses of PL and Dox results in a synergistic effect and brought about death in prostate cells.

These findings indicate that PL has a synergistic effect with Dox to activate a beneficial decline in prostate cancer cells.3 Not only did these researchers find that the combination was just as effective in killing cancerous cells as larger doses of the drug alone, it did so without harming healthy cells.3

There is a lifetime maximum number of doses of this drug due to its cardiotoxicity. There is also research on antioxidants used in combination with this drug to prevent cardiotoxicity (future post). So this study may be poignant if it can be followed up by larger studies and eventually a human trial. But this is a big if...

This issue of improving the efficacy of chemotherapy or reducing the side-effects appears to be mostly disregarded as unsubstantiated or at least outside of the standard of care by oncologists. Given the way that profit is organized in the medical business an insight like this study implies will have a lot of trouble making it into animal studies or a human trial because it is about using less Doxirubicin. Read - less profitable. The makers of this drug are probably not going to be in favor of pursuing alternatives that may lead to them selling less drug. This is an example where the "invisible hand of capitalism" does not do what is best for the consumer.

What would happen if something really simple, common and relatively cheap was found to be as effective or more effective than Doxirubicin at a fraction of the cost? I don't have one yet, but there are all kinds of treatments out their for cancer that need to be critically evaluated. The main person I know that does this is Ralph Moss. I have posted his writings on this blog many times. It appears that it is the patients will to pursue their health that can drive the alternatives and complimentary strategies for cancer.

The life and death issues around cancer make standard of care issues potential legal issues as well. (This can be overcome by proper informed consent.) Oncologists, it appears to me, tend not to be the most alternative of health care practitioners and granted patients are scared and looking to experts with experience to guide them.

I am looking for some who are interested in integrating with acupuncture with cancer treatment and at least consider the use of natural medicine in conjunction with the normal standard of care. If anyone knows an onco. or group in the Los Angeles area that takes this approach please contact me.

Over Dosed America

I have heard the author of this book talk twice. He is brilliant

Dr. Abramson became aware that patient care was increasingly being compromised by the growing waste and commercialism in American medicine. By "researching the research," he found that the clinical studies presented in even the most respected medical journals were often biased by drug and medical device company sponsorship, and that the medical information available to even the most dedicated doctors often differed from what the scientific evidence really showed about the best way to take care of their patients.
He has the number of the medical industrial complex. It is up to everyone else, especially our politicians to listen. Even though he does not talk about cancer care his arguments are equally applicable to cancer research. Simply put: alternatives are not near as seriously considered because they do not have the same corporate sponsorship and profit behind them to create new standards of care.

To read excerpts from his book and see video of him speaking click here.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Common chemicals and The cancer Link

This comes from WebMD:

Pesticides. Plastics. Cosmetics. Deodorants. Cookware. Stain-resistant furniture. Computers.

What do all these seemingly unrelated items have in common?

At one time or another, all have been suspected of increasing the risk of breast cancer.

The important point to recognize is that most researchers agree that there are no solidly proven links between these -- or other similar environmental factors -- and the risk of breast cancer.

The troubling aspect of this, however, is that many believe it's just a matter of time before we connect the scientific dots and see a picture of increased risk.

Amen brother! while it may be hard to make a causal link, this is important stuff. check out the findings of the Environmental Working Group mentioned in this article.

Top Cancer Fighting foods and why

This comes from an article on WebMD:

"The easiest, least-expensive way to reduce your risk for cancer is just by eating a healthy diet," says Rachael Stolzenberg-Solomon, PhD, MPH, RD, a researcher at the National Cancer Institute.

That seemingly simple advice could mean a drastic change in diet for many people.

The most interesting part for me is why they work.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Nausea and Chemotherapy

Ever since the first chemotherapy was delivered to a lymphoma patient, nausea was, and has remained, a concerning side effect of cancer therapy. Nausea can be a debilitating symptom that may significantly interfere with the quality of a patients' life. Fortunately, we have learned a great deal about preventing and treating nausea and this has made a significant impact on improving cancer treatment.

Good article, except it does not mention acupuncture. Some of the best research in all of acupuncture is on its powerful effect on nausea, not only of chemotherapy but pregnancy related nausea as well.

Friday, December 01, 2006

What about chemo brain

Click on the title to read an LA Times article summarizing 3 research studies into how chemotherapy effects the brain.

The last paragraph talks about stimulant drugs such as dexmethylphenidate (Focalin) used to treat ADD that can be helpful.

There are also products that I would recommend in my office that contains phospholipids: phosphatydl choline, phosphatidyl serine and GPC

link to story