Natural cancer remedies should only be considered after all traditional modalities have been exhausted. No representation is made that any of the following will cure cancer as we simply do not have enough scientific data, as it takes years to develop. The informed mind is the best mind. The discussion presented here is for general information purposes only and not to be construed as recommendations of specific treatments.
As of the year 2001, cancer has surpassed cardiovascular disease as the number one cause of death worldwide. The three conventional treatments for cancer are surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. Those afflicted with cancer will quickly realize that none of these are pleasant options.
Recent technology advancements, coupled with a better understanding of cancer developments, have led to alternative cancer treatment options and natural cancer remedies. While the traditional "cure" for cancer means survival after five years, many cancer patients are redefining "cure" to mean free of the dreaded disease on an ongoing basis.
A variety of options are available to the cancer patient along with natural cancer remedies. Some options are backed by clinical research while others are currently in the early experimental stage. There is no guarantee with any form of cancer treatment. Alternative cancer treatments, or natural cancer remedies, often work as adjuncts to traditional treatments. Both are not mutually exclusive but are in fact complementary.
The use of vitamin C supplementation in large doses for the prevention and treatment of cancer and other diseases was first used in the 1950s as a one potential natural cancer remedies. In 1971, two time Nobel Laureate Linus Pauling, PhD, and Ewan Cameron, MD, brought vitamin C as a cancer therapeutic modality to the forefront of medical research. Since then, wide spread attention has been paid to vitamin C and how it aids cancer prevention. The use of megadose vitamin C (10 grams or more) in the treatment of cancer continues to be limited due to the difficulty in obtaining objective research data.
Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is widely found in plants, with its concentration varying from 0.01 percent in apples to about 1 percent in rose hips and citrus. It is a potent water-soluble antioxidant. While most animals synthesize their own vitamin C, humans and a few other animals such as non-human primates, guinea pigs, and fruit bats do not.
Hundreds of reputable studies over the years have shown that people with a high dietary intake of fruits and vegetables are less likely to develop cancer than people with a low intake and doing so is one of the possible natural cancer remedies. While many phytochemicals and micronutrients in fruits and vegetables may contain anticancer properties, much interest has focused on vitamin C. In addition to its antioxidant functions, possible mechanisms of protection by vitamin C include preventing the formation of carcinogenic nitrosamines and fecal mutagens (vitamin C also has a laxative effect when taken at high doses, promotes passage of bowel movement), enhancing the immune system (increases activity of phagocytes, for example), accelerating the action of detoxifying liver enzymes and blocking the toxicological effects of carcinogens such as polycyclic hydrocarbons, organochlorine pesticides and heavy metals.
Most of the evidence natural cancer remedies for the preventive and possibly cancer curative effect of vitamin C has come from animal and cell studies. An important study on natural cancer remedies by Linus Pauling and his colleagues have shown that a large dietary intake of vitamin C delayed the onset of spontaneous mammary tumors in mice and significantly reduced the incidence. The vitamin also delayed the onset of malignant dermal tumors in mice initiated by exposure to ultraviolet light.
It has also been found that vitamin C and it's lipophilic and, therefore fat-soluble derivative, ascorbyl palmitate, are effective in preventing skin cancer. Colon, kidney and bladder cancer in animals can be controlled by vitamin C intake. Furthermore, many researchers have noted that animals treated with vitamin C had well-encapsulated tumors that were less invasive providing further insight on natural cancer remedies.
In vitro studies of cell culture, vitamin C was shown to be cytotoxic to several malignant melanoma cell lines, mouse sarcoma cells, and mouse ascities tumor cells. At low concentrations, vitamin C is cytotoxic to mouse lymphocytic leukemia cells, mouse cells from a lymphoid neoplasm, human fibrosarcoma cells, and an acute lymphoblastic leukemic human cell line. Vitamin C is also cytotoxic to some non-malignant cell lines.
It is known that vitamin C acts as an antioxidant and free radical scavenger that reacts directly with superoxide, hydroxyl radicals, and singlet oxygen produced during normal cellular metabolism. Oxygen is necessary for life. Oxygen also comes in several radical forms that have been implicated in both initiation and post-initiation stages of the carcinogenic process as well as in invasion and metastatic processes.
Aside from its antioxidant properties and its potential use as natural cancer remedies, there is no single universally accepted and proven explanation for vitamin C's cancer fighting properties. It is likely that a variety of pathways are involved, which include (1) fortifying the immune system by increased lymphocyte production; (2) salvaging cellular free radical damage; (3) inhibition of hyaluronidase, keeping the ground substance around the tumor intact and preventing metastasis; (4) killing oncogenic viruses through its enhancement of phagocytic activities; (5) correction of an ascorbate deficiency commonly seen in cancer patients; (6) stimulating collagen formation and its stabilization necessary for "walling off" tumors; and (7) neutralization of carcinogenic toxins.
It is known that tumor cells are more susceptible to the effects of high dose, ascorbate-induced peroxidation products because of a relative catalase deficiency in these cells. Studies have shown that transient plasma ascorbate concentration of 400mg/dl or more, effectively kills most tumor cell types in vitro. The therapeutic end point therefore in megadose intravenous vitamin C therapy is to attain plasma ascorbate concentration above the tumor-cytotoxic level for as long as possible. This is often accomplished by the slow infusion of 50 to 150 grams intravenously at a time. The objective is to raise the concentration of ascorbate high enough to kill tumor cells.
It is impossible to have a discussion about vitamin C and cancer therapy without discussing the controversy stirred by the Vale of Leven and Mayo studies.
The Vale of Leven study was conducted by Ewan Cameron, MD and his associates, (later including Linus Pauling, PhD), at his hospital in Loch Lomondside, Scotland. This study was started in November 1971 on a small group of 50 cancer patients who were given a ten-day course of intravenous (IV) continuous slow-drip infusion of sodium ascorbate in half-strength Ringer's Lactate Solution. After the IV treatment, assuming the patient was able to take medication by mouth, an oral dose of vitamin C was taken at a dose of 2.5 grams every six hours for a total of 10 grams in 24 hours. The dosage varied from 10-30 grams daily and was continued indefinitely as long as the patient was alive. The goal was to maintain plasma ascorbate levels of at least 3 mg/dl. The researchers reported a general subjective improvement in well-being, vigor, pain relief and appetite within five to seven days. By the 100th day of treatment, the mortality rate was only 50 percent. Of the remaining 25 patients, 20 died between days 110 and 659. The average survival period was 261 days. Five subjects had an average survival period of more than 610 days.
A subsequent repeat study on natural cancer remedies conducted in 1978, with more stringent criteria, was also carried out to improve on the design flaws in the original study. In 90 percent of the cases, in the repeat study, subjects who received the ascorbate lived three times longer than the control group. Long-term survival made it impossible to assess survival time with certainty for the remaining 10 percent of the cases. At the time the study was published, the survival rate of the ascorbate group was 20 times that of the control group.
Uncontrolled trials conducted, at two different hospitals in Japan during the 1970s, also confirmed the increase in survival time of terminal cancer patients who were supplemented with ascorbate, giving further insights into natural cancer remedies. At the Fukuoka Torikai Hospital study, the average survival time for the "terminal" patient was 43 days for 44 patients supplemented with low levels of ascorbate (under 4 grams daily) and 246 days for 55 patients supplemented with higher dosages of ascorbate (greater than 5 grams daily - averaging 29 grams daily) from the time the patients were labeled "terminal".
Another study vitamin C and natural cancer remedies was conducted at the Kamioka Kozan Hospital. In this study, 19 terminally-ill control patients survived an average of 48 days compared to six patients on high levels of vitamin C who lived an average of 115 days or 2.4 times longer than the control group. These researchers also reported the improved quality of life observed in the Scottish studies.
In an effort to validate or refute the Cameron and Pauling results, the Mayo Clinic initiated a study on 150 advanced stage cancer patients who had previously received chemotherapy or radiation therapy. The patients were given ascorbate at the same dosage. The researchers reported no significant survival time difference between the vitamin C and placebo group. It is interesting to note, however, that the 27 patients who received no treatment lived an average of 25 days compared to an average of 51 days for the vitamin C or placebo groups. A vast majority of the subjects had received prior chemotherapy, radiation or both treatments.
Due to widespread criticism that the Mayo study had not addressed the effect of vitamin C on cancer patients who had not received prior chemotherapy or radiation, the same researchers initiated a second trial on the use of vitamin C for natural cancer remedies. One hundred cancer patients with advanced colorectal cancer were randomly assigned to receive either 10 grams of ascorbic acid or placebo on a daily basis. The subjects continued on the treatment for as long as they were able to take oral medications or until there was evidence of tumor progression. When this occurred, over half of the subjects received subsequent chemotherapy (5FU) and vitamin C therapy was stopped.
The researchers did not report survival time as they did not continue the patients on vitamin C on an indefinite basis until death. Instead, they reported that after one year, 49 percent of subjects who received vitamin C and 47 percent of the control subjects were still living. Survival time was comparable to the Cameron and Pauling untreated group for both groups.
Critics of the Mayo study, including Dr. Cameron and Dr. Pauling, pointed out that the study was seriously flawed. Vitamin C, according, to them, cannot be started and stopped in cancer patients like a drug. The effects of vitamin C therapy can only be documented with long-term therapy for life. Vitamin C will not produce immediate results like a drug, as it is not a drug in the traditional sense.
According to Dr. Cameron, Vitamin C is a totally different therapy that requires life long treatment and cannot be administered for only 10 weeks, like the Mayo study.
While the jury is still out on the efficacy of megadose vitamin C as mainstream cancer treatment, it can still be considered as one of many natural cancer remedies. Natural-oriented physicians use of megadose intravenous vitamin C as adjunct therapies, or in cases of traditional modalities, have been exhausted.
Despite the controversy on megadose therapy, there is considerable epidemiological evidence pointing to the benefits of vitamin C in the prevention of cancer. The following are examples:
Bladder Cancer: An epidemiological study was carried out in Hawaii comparing 195 males and 66 females with cancer of the lower urinary tract with two matched controls. Results showed that there was a decreased risk of cancer with an increased level of vitamin C consumption for women but not for men. Another study of 35 patients with bladder cancer showed that the serum ascorbate level was low for those with cancer.
Colorectal Cancer: Colonic polyps are a frequent precursor to colorectal cancer. In a study involving 36 patients with polyps, 19 received three grams of ascorbate a day while 17 subjects received a placebo. The researchers noted a decrease in the polyp area after nine months of treatment with ascorbate but not with the placebo. In addition, a trend towards a decrease in the polyp number was found.
Stomach/Gastrointestinal Cancer: Cohen and associates examined epidemiological studies and found 9 of 10 case-control studies and 10 of 11 non-controlled studies yielded a significant inverse relationship between ascorbic acid intake and stomach cancer risk. Administration of vitamin C to patients with asymptomatic peptic ulcer disease resulted in a decrease in DNA damage in 28 of 43 subjects.
Some of the reported side effects of vitamin C include: calcium oxalate kidney stones, B-12 destruction, iron overload, and elevated urinary uric acid. Studies of these reported side effects have been inconclusive, especially in healthy individuals. For example, ingestion of large amounts of vitamin C results in only small increases in urinary oxalates or urates.
From a practical viewpoint, it is prudent to avoid high doses of ascorbate in calcium oxalate stone formers, patients on dialysis or with serious kidney disease, and possibly in patients with hemochromatosis and other iron overload diseases.
There is, however, one reported case of death associated with vitamin C intake. In a certain sub-population of terminal cancer patients who suffered from end stage metastasis (stage 4), the administration of high doses of ascorbate provoked tumor hemorrhage and necrosis, which resulted in the destruction of the tumor but the concomitant death of the patient.
Most healthy people can take up to 10 to 30 grams of ascorbate orally without any problems. However, a high dose vitamin C has a laxative effect. The bowel tolerance level differs from person to person. Physicians using a megadose of vitamin C of 30 grams or more often resort to slow intravenous drip as the delivery route of choice. The most commonly used form of IV vitamin C is sodium ascorbate. The rate of infusion is generally kept below one gram per minute and osmolality under tight control to avoid sclerosing of the veins.
Some physicians favor other forms of vitamin C such as benzylidene ascorbic acid (BSA), which has shown to contain anti-cancer properties against human tumors of the ovary, stomach, pancreas, uterus, bile duct and lung. Benzylidene ascorbate has also been shown to induce apoptosis or cell death in a human myelogenous leukemic cell line, rat hepatocellular carcinoma cells, and in an HIV-replicating human lymphoma cell line.
Other physicians use a unique combination of BSA in conjunction with glucose solution. SBA is produced with a "left-handed" molecular orientation while most ascorbic acids are molecularly "right-handed" (levo isomer vs. dextro isomer). It is postulated that a unique benzene "tail" anchors the SBA in the cell membrane, which prolongs its action and therefore creates a potent pro-oxidant effect in cancer cells. The 50 to 100 grams of SBA are introduced intravenously with glucose, which is the primary and preferred fuel of cancer cells. Cancer cells are basically defective in the enzyme catalase, which is found in normal cells.
Catalase is an enzyme essentially needed in the disintegration of hydrogen peroxide, a toxic metabolic byproduct. Like the "Trojan Horse" system, the cancer cells will take up the vitamin C along with the glucose. Without the catalase, the level of hydrogen peroxide accumulates, which ultimately multiplies to deadly levels.
While the specific protocol varies with each patient and the type of cancer, most IV vitamin C treatment entails a program of four weeks or more. There are two to three infusions per week, which starts at a low dose of 15 grams and increases gradually. The dose varies from person to person. It is adjusted to achieve transient plasma concentration of 400 mg/dl on a transient basis at the time of the infusion. This is supplemented by oral ascorbate daily (four to 10 grams) especially on days with no infusion to help prevent possible rebound effect.
Vitamin C alone may not be enough of an intervention in the treatment of most active cancers. It does, however, appear to improve the quality of life and extend survival time. It should be considered as part of a treatment protocol for all patients with cancer, whether they have chosen a primarily orthodox, alternative medical or complementary approach.
Max Gerson, M.D. was born in Wongrowitz, Germany (1881). Suffering from severe migraines, Dr. Gerson focused his initial experimentation with diet on preventing his headaches. This "migraine diet" had cured his skin tuberculosis. This discovery led Gerson to further study the diet and he went on to successfully treat many tuberculosis patients.
Dr. Gerson also befriended Nobel Prize winner Albert Schweitzer, M.D., by curing Schweitzer's wife of lung tuberculosis after all conventional treatments had failed. Gerson and Schweitzer remained friends for life and maintained regular correspondence. Dr. Schweitzer followed Gerson's progress as the dietary therapy was successfully applied to heart disease, kidney failure and finally - cancer.
The Gerson therapy is a program of natural detoxification treatment involving:
The above will create a near normal condition of the oxidizing system in the body, to which malignant cells with the fermentation (anaerobic) system of metabolism cannot adapt. The ultimate aim is to boost the body's own immune system to heal cancer, arthritis, heart disease, allergies, and many other degenerative diseases.
An abundance of nutrients from thirteen fresh, organic vegetable juices are consumed every day, often at intensive intervals of every two hours round the clock. This provides the body with a megadose of enzymes, minerals and nutrients. These substances then break down diseased tissues in the body while coffee enemas aid in eliminating the lifelong buildup of toxins from the liver.
Over 200 articles in respected medical literature and thousands of people cured of their "incurable" diseases have acknowledged the Gerson Therapy's effectiveness. The Gerson Therapy is one of the few treatments to have a 60-year history of success.
While there is an exception to every rule and every case is different, the therapy has had repeatedly good results with melanoma, lymphoma, ovarian cancer, colorectal cancer, SLE, and arthritis.
Every cell in the human body has a gene called the P53 gene. This gene tracks the degeneration of the cell and when it finds that the cell is damaged beyond repair, it triggers its self-destruction. The P53 gene triggers old cells that died through this natural self-destruction process. New cells are then created through cell division.
The function of the P53 gene gets suppressed in tumor cells. The tumor cells lose the ability to die naturally. This insight about the P53 gene has led to the development of a new way to re-enliven the function of the suppressed P53 gene and bring back its ability to naturally self-destruct the cell upon recognizing that the cell is degenerated. What this means is that malignant tumors can be reduced and/or eliminated from the body by re-activating the cells suppressed P53 function. It is postulated that melatonin fights cancer by the re-expression of the P53 gene. With this function re-energized, the tumor cells recognize their own degenerated state and naturally die on their own thus allowing the body to manage the process of elimination of the dead tumor cell.
Melatonin is therefore much more than a natural sleeping pill and can be considered as one of the natural cancer remedies. It is the agent used to induce programmed cell death (apoptosis). Melatonin's link to cancer was first reported when researchers discovered that flight attendants have twice the normal rate while blind people have half the normal rate of breast cancer. Blind people are known to have high levels of melatonin in their bodies. It is believed that is why blind people have half the normal rate of breast and other cancers. Flight attendants, on the other hand, have frequent jet lag and sleep disturbance. They have less melatonin, which according to researchers, accounts for the doubling rate of breast cancer.
According to an article in the American Journal of Epidemiology (April, 1987), the nighttime production of melatonin inhibits the body's production of estrogen. But exposure to either light at night or to electromagnetic fields can suppress the secretion of melatonin. Chronic exposures of this sort could lead to an increase in an individual's cumulative lifetime dose of estrogen and therefore to an increased breast cancer risk. Two researchers later showed that melatonin directly inhibited the proliferation of human breast cancer cells in culture. In fact, melatonin has been shown to increase the level of naturally occurring antioxidants in breast cancer cells.
One established center of melatonin and cancer studies today is the Division of Radiation Oncology of the San Gerardo Hospital, Milan, Italy. Doctors there have developed a "neuroimmunotherapeutic" protocol that includes a low-dose of IL-2 (Interlukin 2) (three million IU/day for six days per week, for four weeks) with the addition of melatonin taken by mouth (40 mg/day, starting seven days before IL-2).
In a randomized clinical trial reported in 1994, patients with advanced diseases (other than melanoma or kidney cancer) received either low-dose IL-2 alone or IL-2 plus the orally administered melatonin.
There was just one (partial) response out of 39 patients in the IL-2 group. However, when melatonin was added, there were 11 complete or partial responses. After one year on the treatment, there were just six survivors out of 39 patients on IL-2, but 19 survivors in the melatonin +IL-2 group. This was statistically significant and was reported in the British Journal of Cancer (1994; 69:196-199).
In another randomized study, patients with end-stage inoperable brain metastases were given either just supportive care or supportive care and melatonin (20 mg/day taken orally). Survival at one year as well as freedom from brain tumor progression and mean survival time were all significantly higher in patients who were treated with melatonin than in those who received supportive care alone (Cancer 1994; 73:699-701).
Although natural cancer remedies studies like these and others are encouraging, they must be interpreted with caution. The studies were not placebo-controlled, so it is uncertain whether the results were caused by melatonin or a placebo effect. Further studies are needed for confirmation. It should also be noted that the doses of melatonin used in these cancer studies (20-40 mg per night) were considerably higher than the over-the-counter doses (3-6 mg) recommended for sleep. Those unfamiliar with melatonin dosing should note that the dosage to induce sleep is highly variable. Many have reported better sleep with lower dose melatonin (0.5 mg to 1 mg) than at high dose (5 mg and up).
Free radical damage is a well-accepted theory and the primary cause of many forms of cancer. Antioxidants from diet and supplementation form a foundation of any comprehensive alternative cancer therapy.
Key antioxidants include vitamins A, C, and E, lipoic acid, glutathione, bioflavonoids, certain minerals, carotenoids, green tea (active ingredient polyphenol), and tomatoes (active ingredient lycopene).
Antioxidant Enzymes to Neutralize Free Radicals
Many of these have potent antioxidant activity that may be looked at as natural cancer remedies. Flavones and isoflavones have weak estrogen like properties and have been shown to protect the body from various types of hormone-related cancers such as breast and cervical cancer.
The optimum intake of various antioxidants for cancer prevention for natural cancer remedies is shown below. Those with diagnosed cancer may require significantly more.
Additional Antioxidants and Minerals to be considered include:
With or without cancer, the unified theory of free radicals as a cause of many degenerative diseases of aging including cancer must be taken seriously. Antioxidant therapy is a lifelong process. The difference between someone who has been diagnosed with cancer or yet to be diagnosed lies in the amount of intake. By the age 50, much of our cellular protein has already been damaged by environmental, dietary, and lifestyle factors. Genetic mutation is well under way. The average cancer takes about 20 years before physical examination or the traditional screening test detects it.
Taking antioxidants from food and supplementation is a cheap insurance for those who do not have cancer. It is a mandatory adjunct therapy for those who have been diagnosed with the disease.
It is beneficial to understand the importance of natural cancer remedies. While proper nutritional supplementation is essential during remission periods for those afflicted with cancer, their use should be restrained during chemotherapy or radiotherapy. This is because the supplementation could have a negative impact on cancer chemotherapy, as they appear to reduce the effectiveness of cancer therapy by counteracting the way cancer drugs work.
According to Dr. Rudolph Salganik from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, almost all anticancer drugs kill cancer cells by way of apoptosis. Antioxidants like Vitamins A and E dramatically reduce apoptosis in cancer cells, which is a process by which cells self-destruct after they have sustained significant damage to their DNA. A study published at the annual Meeting of the American Society for Cell Biology Washington DC (December 13, 1999) showed that a diet free of Vitamins A and E actually increased the proportion of apoptotic brain cancer cells from 3 percent with a normal diet to 19 percent. The proper use of nutritional supplements combined with the proper timing (before and after chemo and radiotherapy) offers the maximum benefit.
© Copyright 2013 Michael Lam, M.D. All Rights Reserved.