Why good nourishment and supplements are essential for people with cancer

Vitamins, minerals, natural compounds and supplements

The junk food diet for UK cancer patients

There is a strange dichotomy occurring in the world of cancer at the moment. Over the last few years both he UK’s leading cancer charities (drug developers Cancer Research, and Macmillan Cancer Support) have argued that people with cancer should basically eat whatever they want. In part, this stems from UK dieticians’ recommendations in leaflets (available in UK hospitals today) that patients having chemotherapy should eat cheeseburgers, milkshakes, ‘sticky’ buns and drink milky sugary tea to keep their weight up. It’s a junk food strategy.

Macmillan recently seems to have gone overboard introducing cancer patients to their Cake, Coffee, Sugar and Milk diet. The CCSM diet was founded upon a leaflet that told cancer patients that there was nothing wrong with consuming sugar and cows’ dairy, and exacerbated by a fundraising exercise where they ask patients to hold ’cake and coffee mornings’ and donate on SMS by using the word ’sugar’.

Contrast this with the advice of top American Hospitals such as MD Anderson and Sloan-Kettering who recommend that you eat nutritiously when you have cancer with a diet rich in vegetables and fruit.

The figures speak for themselves

Only recently (September 2015) came a new study of 75 million cancer patients across Europe, showing that the UK 5-year survival rates remain around 50% and a third below the best European country of Sweden (5). Indeed the UK is stuck in tenth position. Macmillan described this as ‘shameful’. But while experts express puzzlement, maybe the reason we are just not improving (unless you read the euphoric PR claptrap of CRUK) lies in our ‘encouraged lifestyles’.

Cancer Research UK has a penchant for the blame game – it’s your fault you have cancer. You eat badly, smoke too much, you are overweight, go in the sun too much and take too little exercise. So, if sloth and gluttony are the deadly sins that give 50 per cent of people cancer, why do Macmillan and CRUK not acknowledge that they may also make matters worse when you have it?!

Good Diet makes a big difference

A 2012 report by The American Cancer Society concluded that since 2006 there had been an ’explosion’ in research into complementary therapies and that there was ‘overwhelming evidence’, according to their PR people, that complementary therapies (particularly good diet, exercise and weight control) could increase survival and even prevent a cancer returning.

For example, in 2015 a study by researchers at the Federal University of Caterina compared a group of breast cancer patients consuming less red and processed meats and more fruit and vegetables with a group pursuing a ’normal’ Brazilian diet and showed they had lower weight, lower BMIs and lower oxidative stress that the ’normal’ group - all factors increasing survival times (9).

It is now unarguable that a good diet prevents cancer while a poor diet contributes towards it. Oncology expert Professor Jonathan Waxman, now of Hammersmith Hospital, stated this in an article in BJM a few years back.

Why then do the UK cancer powers insist we eat a poor diet when we have cancer?

One answer lies in the fear of cachexia. This is where a patient’s body launches into a downward weight loss spiral CAUSED by the chemotherapy drugs. And we can’t have people in hospital dying because they took drugs can we? So they are encourage to eat empty calories and bad fats to keep their weight up. Dieticians are so overworked that they barely have time to even consult with the 7 per cent of patients experiencing cachexia. So they issue a blanket leaflet telling everybody on chemo to ’feed themselves up’.

But there are at least three studies in America showing that taking fish oils helps prevent cachexia in cancer patients taking drugs. So, which is it to be? Fish oils; or sugar, cows’ dairy and cake?

Common sugar both causes and fuels cancer

In January 2014, two American scientists showed that glucose caused glycolysis and cancer. Johns Hopkins have researched colorectal cancer and shown clearly that starving patients of sugar is crucial to survival. The American Journal of Public Health has covered research showing that consuming sugar drastically depresses the immune system and also damages your DNA telomeres MORE THAN SMOKING; while several research studies covered in Cancer Watch have shown that people with the highest blood sugar levels develop more cancers, and people with cancer and high blood sugar levels survive least (1).

The Truth is that cancer cells need glucose – they even make their own by producing lactic acid, which is denatured in the liver to glucose, passing through the body and back to feed the cancer cells. Oncologists know of their avarice. They use it in PET scans, where the radiological dye goes straight into the areas of cancer because it is bound to glucose. A number of studies have shown that glucose can help cancer cells proliferate (For example, Ref 7)

It is also a scientific fact that cancer cells contain high levels of insulin receptor sites because the cancer cells need glucose (they thrive on high fructose corn syrup too) and more receptors means greater uptake. One cancer therapy (Insulin potentiation therapy) even uses this fact to drive lower doses of chemotherapy drugs into cancer cells.

In 2013, a meta-study of 20 research papers showed that taking the plasma glucose-lowering drug Metformin, consistently increased survival times. The Editor of The Oncologist magazine, which covered the study, said that Metformin could play a part in tumour reduction by lowering blood sugar levels (6).

I could go on to talk about how employing three to five day fasts has been shown by experts such as Walter Longo to boost the immune system and stop the progression of cancer by suppressing blood glucose, insulin and growth hormone levels. Or how cutting glucose reduces insulin levels and in turn reduces inflammation in the body. Cancers love inflammation; it helps them spread. 

The Oncologist magazine actually wrote an Editorial about the research findings in America that Calorie Restriction, where they restricted the carbohydrate levels by 15 per cent in patients, ‘made the chemotherapy work better’.  Clinical Trials are underway; just as they are with a Ketogenic diet for cancer patients – where patients consume no carbohydrate, but higher fat levels. This induces ketosis in healthy cells (ketosis is the burning of fat instead of carbs). Cancer cells cannot do this. Finally, St Thomas’ Hospital are using The Atkins Diet to good effect with brain tumour patients. Oh, you remember the Atkins Diet, surely – it’s the the one where you eat no carbs.

There is a simple explanation for all this. Glucose is the food of cancer cells - they must have it. It makes them grow, encourages metastases and it even causes cancer in the first place.

Cows’ Dairy clearly linked to cancer

In Cancer Watch over the years we have covered research (for example from the Karolinska Institute) that there is a straight-line graph connection between cows’ dairy and prostate cancer – the more you consume, the higher your risk. We have also covered American research showing that high plasma triglyceride levels are linked with recurrence. Why? Well saturated fats are linked to hormone production, particularly oestrogen.

Not surprisingly then, high saturated fat levels and cows’ dairy are linked to breast cancer. It’s almost another straight-line graph. A cup of milk a day is linked to a tripling of risk for ovarian cancer and so on. It has all been in Cancer Watch over the years. Oncologists are, of course, quite clear. If you have prostate or Er+ breast cancer, the name of the game is cutting your hormone levels. Why on earth would you eat to fuel them?

The driving force is not just triglycerides and oestrogen. Cows’ dairy is known to contain large levels of IGF-1 (Insulin-like Growth Factor 1). There are numerous studies showing IGF-1 as a driver of cancers such as prostate and breast cancer (8).

Good diet – dose dependent

Are there people in the UK trying to make you ill? It is a question that has to be asked. As regular readers will know, I have a book called the Rainbow Diet. Harvard Medical School called 2013 ’the year of the colourful Mediterranean diet’ – so much research came in positively for it. One study showed that women who adhered most closely to it, wherever they lived in the world,  across a 15 year period kept themselves free of 11 chronic illnesses. Another research study actually showed that it was dose-dependent; the more you ate, and also the more variety you ate, the stronger the benefits.

Professor Robert Thomas has captured some of the polyphenol benefits of the Rainbow Diet in his supplement POMI-T. He has clinical trials showing that the ’four -in-one’ supplement (curcumin, pomegranate, indole 3 carbinol and EGCG) reduces PSA levels markedly and delays the need for first treatment in prostate cancer. Researchers at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Texas and other top cancer medical schools have shown that piperine, curcumin, resveratrol and EGCG act synergistically in the body producing a much greater anti-cancer effect.

Dr. Young S. Kim of the National Cancer Institute in America went further. She stated the now well known inconvenient truth of drugs that there is no drug known today that kills off cancer cells at the heart of cancer s. She showed that if you used conventional medicine to knock a tumour back 70 per cent, IT WOULD ACTUALLY REGROW IF YOU ATE BADLY. This is a particularly worrying conclusion if you are on the Macmillan Cake, Coffee, Sugar and Milk diet.

Conversely, her research showed that if you ate good foods – she named foods that contained bioactive ingredients like sulforaphanes, curcumin, piperine, vitamin E, vitamin A, choline, genisteine and EGCG - the tumour would not regrow. She went even further. She said that you could achieve this by taking quality supplements.

This is the science of epigenetics, where blockages occur around your DNA preventing the transmission of crucial messages to the immune system or for controlling cell division. Scientists in America, working on drugs right now, have stated that they believe these blockages to be reversible.

What causes the blockages? It is now clearly understood that histones build up and block DNA message transmission because of 4 factors: bad diet, environmental toxins, stress and hormones like oestrogen.

What can reverse the blockages? It is now understood that good diet (including about 60 or more bioactive compounds), sleep, exercise, gut bacteria and other factors can reverse the problem. You are not doomed.

Let them eat cake

I was recently challenged that I decried the use of multiple drugs but I applauded the use of multiple supplements. This is just an ignorant and simplistic comment on a number of counts.

Clinical trials usually occur with a single drug; occasionally with a combination of three or four. The advent of a new ‘disease’ (called polypharmacy) has seen 28 per cent of hospital admissions in The New York Presbyterian Hospital where, particularly older people, were taking 13 drugs or more.  I can honestly say I have never seen a clinical trial involving 13 drugs.

Unfortunately, 2014 was the year rigour (or rather the lack of it) was exposed in drug clinical trials. 40 per cent of drug clinical trials were flawed according to the FDA in America. Drugs companies were prosecuted and fined huge sums of money for making false claims and more about drugs, and books like ‘Deadly Medicines and Organized Crime’ appeared from respected authors like the head of the Nordic Cochrane Institute, Professor Peter Gøtzsche.

Drugs are synthetic, they have side-effects, fact. And many people have a problem tolerating one drug let alone four. Beyond this, there is a very real chance that drugs can negatively interact. The FDA admits that of imported Generic drugs (there are over 700 in common use) less than 3 per cent have ever been through safety checks.

I am not madly keen on anything synthetic – a drug, HRT, or cheap synthetic supplements like alpha-tocopherol or beta carotene, approved by the EU and commonly found in Britain’s high streets. I have written against them all in my books.

However, as I said above, bioactive compounds can be found in foods, and the more you eat, the healthier research says you become. And if Dr. Young S. Kim has done research for the National Cancer Institute and concluded that quality supplements have a role in stopping the recurrence of cancer, I think people should take note, don’t you?

But, again I qualify this. In my recent article on supplements – even ‘quality’ supplements – I would rather people ate the food or got their vitamin D from 4 hours in the sun. With people who talk to me about their cancers, I try to limit supplement suggestions to six.

But, the fact is there is research that taking a daily fish oil is better that eating oily fish and that taking curcumin supplements reduces inflammation. But juicing greens, eating beetroot and red peppers, or chicken soup having boiled the bones is exactly my stance. And it says so in our latest icon.

Moreover to suggest I am against drugs but pro-supplements is woefully inaccurate. Our 12 year-old magazine is called Integrative Cancer and Oncology News. We believe cancer patients should build complementary programmes around the drugs. Since we started the mission, I have repeatedly talked about using ’the best of the best’. If a drug can deliver a benefit, use it. If a supplement enhances the effect of the drug, and/or increases its safety, use it too. Only recently I reviewed two drugs (5 FU and Oxaliplatin) where curcumin made them work more effectively AND reduced damage to healthy tissue seven to ten fold. Surely that fact is of huge benefit to cancer patients and oncologists alike? (2)

In the early stages on cancer, some people need corrective help to kick start their programme because newly diagnosed patients are invariably nutritionally deficient and/or nutritionally toxic. That’s most usually where multiple supplements have a role.

But to suggest somehow multiple bioactive ‘supplements’ are as bad for you as multiple drugs is exceedingly ignorant and dangerous to cancer patients.

For example, in America four Doctors have meticulously produced a report entitled Death by Medicine (3). It details how 2.2 million people have adverse reactions to drugs while in hospital in America and that conventional medicine is the leading cause of death in America.

But then no one needs to write a report. Every year, the American Government lists causes of hospital visits and causes of death. As we covered in Cancer Watch in 2012, there were large numbers of deaths from people taking drugs, but not one death reported from people taking natural supplements, (singly or in cocktail quantities) or from eating a plate of colourful vegetables and fruits (4).

It is high time the pro-Pharma skeptics, the dieticians, and the supposed leading cancer charities were taken to task. By misleading, misquoting and misinforming, they are reducing survival times and hastening patients’ deaths.  There are perhaps 20 steps in the Cancer Process – from irritation and inflammation to metastases and developing a blood supply. And drugs companies are developing drugs to contain each step.  But as John Boik, formerly of the MD Anderson Cancer Centre wrote to me, you can’t take 20 drugs – it would kill you. But back in 2001, MD Anderson prepared a report, which Boik turned into a book called Natural Compounds in Cancer Therapy. In that report, they analysed 6,000 research studies on natural compounds and lined up those that could have an effect against different steps in the cancer process. And you can take 20 natural compounds.

14 years on, we know so much more - there is a vast array of quality research on supplements. Curcumin has over 700 studies to support its benefits. 

But it’s the same story as when CANCERactive started out. If the research exists, but it is not passed on, then people aren’t really dying of cancer – they are dying of ignorance.

And that is just scandalous.


Some References:

(1) /cancer-active-page-link.aspx?n=3615

(2) /cancer-active-page-link.aspx?n=3707

(3) http://www.webdc.com/pdfs/deathbymedicine.pdf

(4) /cancer-active-page-link.aspx?n=3196

(5) /cancer-active-page-link.aspx?n=3739 

(6) /cancer-active-page-link.aspx?n=3508 

(7) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26380295

(8) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15110491

(9) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25528078

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