Over 39% of all U.S. adults will be diagnosed with some form of cancer in their lifetime (1). Projections show that in 2018, there will be an estimated 1.7 million new cancer cases diagnosed and 609,640 cancer-related deaths in the U.S. alone (2). There is no doubt that these statistics are terrifying but we are inspired daily by members of our Food Matters community who turn this incredibly dark time into an opportunity to discover and support the body's innate healing capacity.
Cancer is a collection of related diseases which all stem from the uncontrolled growth and spread of abnormal cells. The most common forms are breast cancer, lung and bronchus cancer, prostate cancer, colon and rectum cancer, bladder cancer, melanoma of the skin, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, thyroid cancer, kidney and renal pelvis cancer, leukemia, endometrial cancer, and pancreatic cancer (3).
Conventional treatment options commonly prescribed by health professionals are chemotherapy, radiation and surgery. However, when it comes to treatment, there is unfortunately no one-size-fits-all approach and natural therapies, either used alone or combined with conventional treatment, may help to support the body’s healing. Regardless of which road you take, we recommend focusing on boosting the immune system, detoxifying the body and correcting nutrient deficiency with the recommendations below.
The cause of cancer has been, and continues to be extensively researched. The belief that our risk of developing cancer is predetermined by a set of fixed genes has recently been overturned by a concept called ‘epigenetics’. Epigenetics has taught us that our environment has the ability to switch the expression of genes on & off. This means that we have the power to control our gene expression through our diet, lifestyle & environment.
There are a number of other established carcinogens which trigger a mistake in the cell blueprint, resulting in uncontrolled growth and spread of abnormal cells. These are often linked to very specific forms of cancer, for example smoking tobacco is linked with lung cancer and excessive sun exposure is linked with skin cancer.
- Lifestyle factors include exposure to tobacco, low physical activity, excessive sun tanning or use of a tanning bed.(4)
- Dietary factors include; low fruit and vegetable intake, high processed red meat consumption, excessive alcohol, acidic diet or a diet high in pesticides, herbicides and other chemical residue.(5)
- Environmental factors include exposure to polluted air, contaminated water.(6)
Biological factors include epigenetics, weakened immune system, viral infections & pre-existing medical conditions.(7)
There are hundreds of different types of cancer. They are all unique and have their own symptoms and characteristics as they affect the body in different ways. Although symptoms differ greatly, the below symptoms are commonly experienced by most cancer patients but may only be in later stages of the disease. Not all cancers are associated with weight loss..
- Pain which usually increases as the cancer progresses
- Abnormal bleeding
- Unexplained weight loss
- Fever of unknown origin
- Muscle weakness
Nutritional Guidelines for Healing
The recommendations below support your body by boosting the immune system, detoxifying the body and correcting nutrient deficiency. Many leading International centers advocate a multimodality approach so do bear in mind that one therapy alone is most unlikely to be sufficient. Please consult an experienced health practitioner, if you are treating cancer, who should tailor any approach to address all underlying health issues, the type and site of cancer and its effects on your body functions as well as complement and support other chosen treatments.
- Consider Gerson Therapy or aspects of this approach - This is a natural approach which focuses on an organic, plant-based diet, raw juices, coffee enemas and natural supplements. Each day includes 13 glasses of freshly prepared juice, three plant-based meals, and snacks of fresh fruits. Rather than treating only the symptoms of a particular disease, the Gerson Therapy treats the causes of most degenerative diseases: toxicity and nutritional deficiency (8). To find out more about this approach we recommend watching The Gerson Miracle & our FMTV exclusive interview with Charlotte Gerson.
- Eliminate Processed Meats and reduce intake of red meat - During this healing time, aim to eliminate processed meat e.g. ham, bacon and sausages containing preservatives. Reduce your intake of animal protein, particularly red meats. We recommend the following protein-rich alternatives which are easier for your body to digest; wild-caught fish, organic plant-based protein powder, organic pastured eggs, organic tempeh, legumes, nuts and nut milks. It is important not to eliminate proteins completely, as they are essential for growth & repair during this time (9). Be aware that some dietary approaches that reduce carbohydrates ( e.g. the ketogenic diet) require inclusion of protein at most meals. (10).
- Cold Pressed Vegetable Juice - Aim to add cold pressed vegetable juices to your diet each day. This is an excellent way to get a concentrated dose of nutrients and antioxidants which boost the immune system and correct nutritional deficiencies. Make sure not to include too many high sugar fruits as this will increase sugar consumption which is not ideal at this time. A nice way to do this is make the majority of the juice from green vegetables and allow for up to one handful of fruit in a glass of pressed juice.
- Anti-inflammatory Foods - Focus specifically on boosting your intake of omega-3 rich foods such as wild-caught trout, salmon, tuna, chia seeds, hemp seeds, flax seeds & walnuts. If this seems a bit overwhelming and you’re unsure how to get started, let us guide you with our 21 Day Clean Eating Program. (11)
- Alkalize your body - By altering the pH of the body, cancer is less likely to thrive and many anti-cancer therapies are more effective at a slightly alkaline pH.(12) Get your daily greens by adding 1 -2 cups of dark leafy greens to every meal and juice. If you are short on time or don’t have a juicer, simply replace with 1 tsp of our Food Matters Recommended Greens in water. Dark leafy greens help to alkalize the body, combat inflammation and prevent cellular damage caused by oxidation (13). Add a squeeze of fresh lemon to a glass of water or blend a whole unsprayed lemon with a jug of water. Some treatment protocols include regular intake of bicarbonate to further alkalize the body. (14)
- Reduce sugar – Cancer cells have a greater ability than healthy cells to take up sugar from the bloodstream and maintain their expansive growth.(15) This is sometimes called the Warburg effect, named after the scientist who first saw this.(16) Keep your blood glucose levels steady by eating a high plant diet, some proteins, good quality fats and oils, complex unprocessed grains and avoid added sugar apart from small amounts of fresh fruit.
- Turmeric & ginger - Cold-pressed turmeric & ginger shots can be a powerful way to reduce inflammation. You can see our recipe here. Turmeric has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries yet mainstream medicine is just catching onto its powerful healing properties. The active component, curcumin, has been found to possess anti-cancer qualities through a number of pathways (17). The latest example of this was a study which found that curcumin suppressed tumor growth in head and neck squamous cells (18). Add a little black pepper and a quality fat like coconut oil to increase absorption.
- Fermented Foods - Probiotic rich foods such as coconut yogurt, miso, water kefir, kombucha, tempeh, kimchi and sauerkraut can help support the immune system. Their role in cancer prevention and tumor growth suppression is now well established (19).
- Matcha & Green Tea - Enjoy green or matcha tea daily. In China, green tea has been used medicinally for over 4,700 years (20). This is for a very good reason, as studies have now proven the anti-cancerous properties both in vitro and in vivo by its ability to selectively destroy cancerous cells (21).
Herbal, Superfood & Supplement Therapy
- High Dose Vitamin C - Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that has the ability to improve immunity and detoxify toxic metabolites (22). High concentrations of intravenous Vitamin C may have the ability to selectively destroy tumor cells, due to its pro-oxidant effect and stimulation of apoptosis pathways (23, 24). Studies have found that it also improved quality of life, reduced pain and increased survival (25, 26). This is a relatively affordable therapy with few side effects. If you want to learn more about this therapy, we recommend watching That Vitamin Movie & our FMTV exclusive interview with Dr. Andrew Saul.
- Quality Probiotics - Probiotics play an important role in cancer prevention and growth suppression. Recent studies have found that probiotic bacteria may reduce the risk, incidence and number of tumors of the colon, liver and bladder (27). Probiotics also play an integral part of our immune function, so supplementation helps to suppress cancer growth. We suggest taking 50 billion units daily of a product containing multiple strains.
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids - Consumption of omega-3 fatty acids may help to slow the growth of metastatic cancer, increase longevity of cancer patients and improve quality of life (28, 29). They also help to boost immune function and reduce inflammation. We recommend supplementing with 1-4 grams per day.
- Immune Boosting Mushrooms - Mushrooms have been used medicinally for centuries because of their ability to enhance our immune response. Recent studies have found that the bio-active beta-glucan component of Maitake & Shiitake mushrooms stimulate the body's immune defenses and, in some cases, may help to destroy cancerous growths (30, 31).
- Medicinal Cannabis - An active component of cannabis called cannabinoids is being recognized and legalized for therapeutic use in cancer patients. Early studies are promising, indicating potential efficacy as a novel treatment in the management of some forms of cancer such as breast (32) and prostate cancer (33).
- Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBO) - HBO is a chamber that contains about 2.5 times more oxygen than normal atmospheric levels. Early studies indicate that HBO has a tumor-inhibitory effect and could be a useful complementary therapy (34, 35). This is because a characteristic of cancerous tumors is the presence of regions (usually the center) which have no access to oxygen. This environment is thought to contribute to the proliferation of cells and also make the tumor insensitive to some therapies. As such, providing the body with concentrated and easily absorbed oxygen impacts the tumor at a cellular level. Oxygen is also needed for wound healing, immune function and new, healthy cell growth.
- Pulsed Electromagnetic Frequency - Magnetic fields move through the body freely and the body uses these fields to generate more cellular energy. Healthful magnetic fields can be used in supporting an effective immune response and a healthy overall body. Pulsed Electromagnetic Frequency (PEMNF) stimulation is used in various clinics as part of a treatment program for cancer.(36)
- Earthing – When the human body is in touch with the surface of the Earth it can act as a conductor of the earth’s magnetic shield. And this has been found to lower inflammation, help wound healing, prevent and can be used in treatment of chronic inflammatory diseases. So spend 15 minutes a day enjoying the feel of your bare feet or body on the ground, earth, rock, grass or sand.(37)
- Hyperthermia - Hyperthermia describes the treatment of inducing fever in the person. Fever is a natural response to healing and has been recognized for thousands of years. In 500 BC the Greek physician Parmenides is noted as saying “Give me a chance to create fever and I will cure any disease”. There are two main ways hyperthermia is used in treating cancer. Either the whole body can be treated or just a small ‘localized’ area can be heated up to about 40-41 degrees celcius.(38)
- Mindfulness Meditation - Meditation is a powerful tool and one that is regularly recommended for those who suffer from chronic conditions such as cancer. If you are new to this practice, we recommend starting with some simple breathwork. Mindfulness meditation creates a sense of relaxation and cultivates positive thought patterns and attitudes (39, 40).
- Take a Sunbath - Spend 15 minutes in the sun daily during the early morning and late afternoon. Sunlight provides vitamin D, which is important for cell regulation. It has been shown to retard growth of cancerous tumors, suggesting its use as an anticancer agent (41).
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This article is provided for your general information only and is not intended to be a substitute for independent professional advice, particularly medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. You should always seek medical advice from a qualified health practitioner which takes into account your personal circumstances, general health and medical conditions.