Over the last two weeks (with a little hiatus in the middle for an article on carbohydrates) I have covered Integrative Cancer care – from a dietary perspective and in terms of supplemental nutrients and compounds which can be added into Integrative Cancer care.
Everything I have written has stressed the need to put Cancer cells in a position in which they can be killed – by the immune system itself, by cytotoxic or antioxidant supplemental minerals/vitamins/compounds and/or by the conventional pharmaceutical drug therapies being used in each individual case.
Today’s article is a much shorter one – but it is designed to show you that it’s not just how you eat or what you take that can help to kill Cancer cells. Instead, there are therapeutic techniques which, when used correctly, can also help to push the body (and the pro-oxidant vs. anti-oxidant status of the body) into a state in which the conventional or complementary therapies can do their job even better.
These might be conventionally known as detoxification therapies. The reason for this is because they are all tools used in healthcare settings to enhance the depth and increase the rate of detoxification. Place such therapeutic techniques within the realm of Cancer care and you find other benefits. These detoxification therapies can actually form part of an Integrative Cancer protocol.
PLAYING WITH TEMPERATURE
It seems that if you’re at all involved in holistic health, biohacking, fitness or functional medicine then you will at least have heard of – if not become an absolute convert to the power of – cold showers and/or sauna therapy. It seems that changing the temperature of our bodies (and actually, our cells) directly alters a lot (a LOT) of signalling pathways.
These pathways are involved in protein synthesis, growth hormone, fat regulation and … detoxification.
For that reason, it is temperature variations that have been used as further adjuncts to Cancer therapy as ways to further assist the body with detoxifying some of the conventional drugs.
The thing with saunas is that everyone is raving about them at the moment. I also believe that they’re a really important part of detox – and rarely (if ever) will I recommend a detoxification protocol that doesn’t include sauna sessions.
Basically, heat – of all varieties – kicks up the body’s detoxification processes. You eliminate toxicity through urine, faeces and sweat – and when you make yourself sweat, in any way, you support all of these channels.
There are many different types of sauna – conventional steam rooms, far infrared, near infrared, home saunas, dome saunas, heat mats etc. In truth, all of these will do something to support detoxification – and I recommend them all. As in, I recommend that people do ALL of them, not just one kind.
The difference in sweating is the toxicity that you metabolise when different forms of heat are experienced. Exercise releases toxicity from different levels than a steam sauna – and the near infrared and far infrared difference is to do with the depth of penetration of the heat frequency and therefore how and what is released. There is compelling science to justify all sides – and my recommendation really is to just access some kind of sauna therapy to support treatment.
Is a sauna going to treat cancer? No – of course not. There are some phenomenal benefits to sauna but it is not a standalone therapy. Instead, the use of heat supports all of the therapies mentioned in the previous two articles.
But there is a whole other science of applied heat which IS being used to treat cancer. As a UK practitioner working without a medical license, I’ve not had access to this yet. In fact, in the UK I think it is extremely rare. In the US, however, the technique of direct application of heat (hyperthermia) to tumours and cancer growths is showing intriguing promise.
Devices can be used to supply localised heat (known as loco-regional treatment) to specific tumour sites OR whole-body, fever-range hyperthermia. In both cases clinicians are seeing tumour reduction through the mechanisms of heat-induced cytotoxicity, increased vasodilation allowing for increased flow of chemotherapeutic drugs, improved oxygenation of tissues to support sensitivity to radiotherapy AND the increase in heat-shock proteins which, in tumour cells, can trigger a vaccine-like response.
It is this more-than-sauna level of heat which is being demonstrated to not only make Cancer cells more vulnerable to treatment agents but also to potentially trigger internal cell-death programs (the cytotoxicity and heat-shock-vaccine responses).
Two of the key metrics in assessing Cancer treatment success have nothing to do with the Cancer cells themselves. These are Quality of Life (QoL) and also longevity – i.e. length of survival irrespective of the presence of Cancer.
Anecdotally, clinicians using Hyperthermia report greater QoL and longevity scores when Hyperthermic treatments are part of their patients’ overall protocols (generally incorporated with either chemotherapy, radiotherapy or both – and/or an optional immune therapy – see below). Proper clinical trials are yet to be completed on these therapies, but thus far the clinical data is looking promising.
OTHER THERAPIES: OXYGEN, OZONE
You may have heard of Hyperbaric Oxygen. In Cancer this has historically been contraindicated – with oxygen ‘feeding’ the cancer cells.
From my reading of the literature – and the anecdotal, clinical evidence – this notion doesn’t appear to be true. The use of hyperbaric oxygen CAN be used to push cells into a very vulnerable place – oxygen (in excess) can actually tip Cancer cells towards death, rather than feeding them as was originally thought.
However, my literature reading also suggests an awful lot of “we don’t know” about this. Again, I revert back to the fact that not all Cancers are the same. I cannot make a blanket recommendation for Hyperbaric Oxygen (unlike Sauna) above, so for now would suggest that you discuss this level of treatment with your personal oncology team to see if this is right for you.
You may have seen recent headlines in the UK about a revolutionary treatment which was able to treat Cancer. This was a form of immunotherapy – a solution in which the immune cells of a Cancer patient were extracted, the T-cells were harnessed and modulated to add “CARS” (the therapy is known as CAR-T therapy).
These cells are then allowed to replicate exponentially in a lab and then the harvested T-cells, which are now Cancer-fighting immune ninjas are infused into the Cancer patient. This leaves the Cancer patient with an immune system which carries T-cells specifically honed to directly attack their form of Cancer.
This is a nice way to think about treatment – because it feels more natural than drugs which kill the Cancer but are also quite toxic to healthy cells. However, it must be recognised that most Cancer drugs which are already in existence are immunotherapy drugs – they are designed to either block the abnormal Cancer cell proteins or release the breaks on the Cancer patient’s immune system so that it runs wild and attacks the Cancer with much more force.
Unlike other immune therapies, e.g. for autoimmune conditions, the replaced T-cells in this Cancer therapy aren’t actually the body’s self-cells. They have been modulated. The cases of side-effects in trials which have already taken place have been incidents where the body’s own immune system has attacked the infused T-cells.
This science is not yet licensed in the UK, though it is in the process of getting approval. Initially this will be for advanced Cancers, in particular blood Cancers. However, it may be some years off before we are completely able to treat Cancer by using the body’s own immune cell.
It’s interesting, because I embarked on this Cancer series with a lot of optimism for the therapies that I use with my patients. In writing all of this, I realise that we are closer now than we ever have been to incredible breakthroughs in immunotherapies – and even genetic therapies – which can dramatically improve Cancer treatment experiences, success and outcomes.
And yet, whenever you stray into a topic like Cancer you also realise that far too many people are affected by this condition. You also recognise that the therapies that can help – i.e. the things I’ve spoken about in article 2 and 3 of this series – all come at a price. Healthcare, currently – and even with the NHS – is an elitist system.
When I recognise this, and I think about what I would do were I on a strict budget and dealing with a Cancer diagnosis, I actually take comfort in the fact that the most important article in this series was the first one.
We have a phenomenal acute healthcare service in the UK – but we can help it out by treating our bodies better generally. If you’re at all concerned about the potential of Cancer, fill your diet with antioxidants, polyphenols and good quality, nutrient dense foods. You can even help your local farming community out whilst you’re doing it. And it may come at a price, but it’s a relatively small one compared to the phenomenally expensive therapies in this or the previous article. It’s also no price at all when compared with improving, and possibly saving, your life.
With my Cancer patients there are two foundations. Food, obviously. But also attitude. This is not about abject positivity and blue-sky thinking. Instead, it is about focusing on the fact that your mind-body connection is the richest source of nutrition that you can possibly access. What’s more – it’s free. If you can eat well and only put inside your body that which you know is serving you – nutritionally, but also in terms of friends, relationships and thoughts – then you have the perfect, strong foundation from which to help your body eliminate Cancer cells.