What is Chemoprevention?
Chemoprevention is the use of natural agents to inhibit, slow down, prevent or reverse carcinogenesis. Dietary consumption of certain foods and herbal medicines are a potentially beneficial method of delivering essential phytochemicals to the body. Phytochemicals are emerging as the most important anticancer components that certain fruits and vegetables contain. Laboratory studies have shown that these plant compounds have an amazing ability to inhibit cancer growth. A high intake of phytochemicals is vital.
There are many active compounds from edible plants that are considered chemopreventative.
- Resveratrol-from grapes, cranberries, blueberries, mulberries, bilberries, lingonberries
- Curcumin-from tumeric
- Sulforaphane-from broccoli, kale, collard, mustard greens, brussels sprouts, rapini, spinach, cauliflower, turnips, cabbage, radishes
- Catechin-from green tea
- Sulfur compounds-from garlic, onion, chive, leek, shallot
- Lycopene-from tomato
Additional foods that have increased bioactivity in relation to inflammation reduction and immune modulation are avocado and berries, especially black raspberries.
Dietary fats contribute to the inflammatory cascade in the body and should be reduced. Saturated fats in the diet reduce the natural killer cell activity of the system. A low-fat high-fiber diet has been hypothesized to be relevant in chemoprevention success. Also, it is important to increase omega-3 fatty acids in the diet (walnuts, soybeans, tofu, flax seeds, sardines, herring, salmon, trout).
Consumption of red meat, liver and bacon have more definitive cancer producing risks when consumed on a daily basis. The more suitable proteins include vegetable proteins and fish. Soy is more controversial and less definitive at this time, so recommendations are to consume it in moderation, especially if your cancer is hormone-dependent like breast or prostate.
There is a major connection between insulin resistance and cancer and many theories that then recommend that patients avoid refined flours and sugars.
Dairy products should not be encouraged. IGF, a tumor growth factor, is found in cow’s milk, and may increase these levels in humans.
Which plants show the greatest potential from Western intergrative oncologists?
- T. Versicolor (Turkey tail mushroom-Yun Zhi chinese herb)
- Garlic (cut or crushed)
- Green tea
- Quercetin (flavonoid)
- Astragalus (Huang qi chinese herb)
- Panax ginseng
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Acupuncture and Herbal Therapies To Mitigate Short and Long Term Treatment Side Effects
Acupuncture has been used effectively for symptomatic control of pain, nausea, hot flashes, depression, anxiety, numbing and tingling of feet and insomnia due to chemotherapy and radiation treatment side effects. Nausea and peripheral numbing and tingling are common side effects induced by Western medicine cancer treatments. Acupuncture helps to relieve pain and improve immunity.The U.S. National Institutes of Health held a Consensus Development Conference on Acupuncture to evaluate its safety and efficacy. The panel concluded that very promising research showed the efficacy of acupuncture had emerged. “There is clear evidence that acupuncture treatment is effective for postoperative and chemotherapy induced nausea and vomiting…there are also a number of other pain-related conditions for which acupuncture is effective as an adjunct therapy, acceptable alternative or as part of a comprehensive treatment program.” (NIH)
Acupuncture supports the immune function by increasing blood cell counts and enhancing lymphocyte and natural killer cell activity. The major clinical observations and trials on acupuncture in the United States have focused on treatment for cancer patients to improve patient quality of life.
Acupuncture is recognized as having a solid role in the comprehensive care of cancer therapy.
Acupuncture Aids in Long Term Radiation Effects
“Normal tissues repair damage inflicted by radiation. There are acute and long term damages that occur from radiation. Acute damage usually takes place due to damage to the cell itself. This damage takes place from weeks to months after radiation exposure. Late damage takes place months to years after exposure and is usually the result of damage to supportive tissues like small blood vessels and connective tissues. Acute reactions fade quickly, but late reactions are more difficult to heal.” Integrative Oncology, 2009, Abrams and Weil.
Using acupuncture to address the protection of the normal cells during radiation while increasing support to damaged blood vessels is key for a healthier long term recovery.