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December 13, 2018

The Three Big Mistakes Cancer Patients Make

What are the 3 big mistakes cancer patients make that can sabotage their recovery?

When it comes to treating cancer, most people think that there are limited options available to them. That first cancer diagnosis comes as a shock, and they believe that there is nothing they can do to become cancer-free. They often rely solely on western cancer treatments in their cancer journey, limiting the chances of positive cancer outcomes from the start.

They are unaware of many of the natural options available for alleviating the side-effects of conventional drugs, chemotherapy and radiation therapy, so they take more drugs from their oncologist, cancer care team, or healthcare team. This, in turn, leads to them suffering from not only unwanted health symptoms caused by cancer, but also from the side effects of cancer treatments using cancer drugs and chemotherapy. These cancer treatment side effects can be as hard to cope with as the cancer itself.

The lingering effects of cancer often become chronic, causing their health to deteriorate further and destroying their hope of regaining a sense of well-being. With deteriorating health, the risk of recurrence is also ever present.

After interviewing and working with hundreds of hospice residents and clinic patients with terminal cancer, Bernadette Yu has identified three common misconceptions or critical mistakes that cancer patients have made which have degraded their quality of life, and prevented them from healing or from holding their cancer in check.

Big mistakes cancer patients make: #1 Not optimizing the nutrition needed to fight cancer.

While most people believe cancer thrives on sugar, they forgot that the cancer cell itself is made up not just of carbohydrates, but also protein and fat.

Cancer competes within your body for nutrition to grow and spread. By not eating a healthy diet that's focused on optimizing healthy amounts of food you eat, and supplying the essential nutrients that are needed to support your body in fighting cancer, cancer cell growth can thrive, robbing and depleting your body of the source of vitamins, minerals and beneficial nutrients that you need.

You might not even realize this is the cause of your suffering. You may think you’re following the dietary guidelines you've been given by your health care team and eating a variety of foods, including a healthy and balanced diet of beta carotene-rich fruits, raw vegetables and lean meats. You're taking mineral supplements, you're not over-consuming animal products or animal fat, you're staying away from alcohol during treatment, or drinking alcohol in moderation. You're eating an "anti-cancer diet", or a ketogenic diet; all those things you've read that you're supposed to do, but the problem is that the cancer is also consuming the bulk of the nutrients you're getting from your food. This unwitting malnutrition makes your body too feeble to help you fight off cancer.

Also, when you're weak and have lost your appetite, other health problems caused by malnutrition can arise, including weight loss and susceptibility to illnesses. You may also find your activity levels decline as you just don't feel up to doing anything. When your body does not receive the essential nutrients you need, you end up nutritionally depleted, and unable to defend yourself, with the cancer breaking down and invading your body in its quest for food sources.

What sort of dietary or nutritional activity for cancer prevention can you do? Succinctly, to fight cancer effectively (or to reduce cancer risk to start with) you must ensure your body has optimal nutrition. Overall, nutritional supplements and dietary supplements may be a good idea when dealing with almost all types of cancer, as is having a guideline for diet that's targeted to the specific type of cancer you have. Nutritional supplements and dietary supplements can also help you deal with the adverse side effects of cancer treatment, which can be severe.

Here is a clinical study on the use of dietary supplements and nutritional supplements as an example of the health benefits of using these. Seventy-nine prostate cancer patients were selected for a three-week duration study. This case study was published in June 2017.

The objective of this study was to find out the health benefits of supplementing prostate cancer patients undergoing prostate cancer treatment with Lycopene (from lycopene-rich tomatoes), Selenium, and Omega-3 fatty acid. The effect of these dietary antioxidant supplements on the Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) level of these patients was measured. Patients in this study were supplemented for three weeks while a comparison on patients with the lowest intake of nutrients was conducted.

For those who don’t know the risk of prostate cancer, this cancer type is the fifth leading cause of cancer deaths worldwide. For those who have prostate cancer, Prostate Specific Antigen is one of the markers that are measured periodically to evaluate prostate cancer status, and the effectiveness of prostate cancer treatment.

In this particular cancer study, Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) was measured at the beginning of the research study and then again after three weeks of supplementing with Lycopene, Selenium, and Omega-3 fatty acid, all antioxidant supplements, and all of which are rich in a Mediterranean-type diet (which has significant antioxidant properties). The study determined that tomato-products alone or in combination with selenium and n-3 fatty acids lowered PSA in patients with non-metastatic prostate cancer.  Patients who changed their dietary habits and included tomato-based dishes in their diet seemed to have a decreased PSA level over time. These patients appeared to have a better quality of life when they continued with this type of diet.

Click here to read more about the study “Tomato-based randomized controlled trial in prostate cancer patients: Effect on PSA” in the original medical journal.

So, what do we know about eating a nutritious diet and taking supplementation from this study?  Simply, eating a vegetarian diet, eating plenty of fruits, cutting out Deli meats, or eating raw meat, or a diet rich in this or that, or whatever the fad diet of the day is, isn't enough.

You need supplementation matched very specifically to the type of cancer you have in order to help you fight cancer. This can be critical to your chances of cancer survival.

Big mistakes cancer patients make: #2 Not using natural anti-cancer remedies to help increase the probability of cancer remission.

Plants have been the basis for 80% of oncology drug developments over recent years. Medical research and clinical experiments have showed that these natural plant substances are potent anti-cancer agents in their own right.

There have been many interesting case studies and reports on the use of plant extracts as adjuvant treatments to improve cancer therapy success rates. Here is one of the earliest examples of a Chinese clinical study on the use of a popular immunity-strengthening superfood to treat patients with various types of cancer during their immunotherapy.

This clinical case study was carried out in 1994. In this study, seventy-five patients in the advanced stage of cancer were selected to take part in the clinical trial. Goji berry extract was picked as an adjuvant remedy in the immunotherapy experiment as Goji berry is rich in anticancer properties.

The goal of the clinical trial was to find and compare the response rate of patients treated with immunotherapy plus goji berry extract, versus patients treated with immunotherapy alone.

The results indicated that co-treatment with goji berry extract increased the cancer remission response rate to 40.9% while the cancer remission rate for the control group was 16.1%. This is more than double the chance of surviving cancer - a very significant improvement in survivability. Follow-up care recorded that the mean remission in patients treated with immunotherapy plus goji berry extracts also lasted for a significantly lengthier period of time.

In this study, regression of malignant melanoma (a skin cancer), renal cell carcinoma, colorectal cancer, lung cancer, nasopharyngeal carcinoma, and malignant hydrothorax were all noted. This clinical experiment concluded that goji berry extract could be used as an effective adjuvant to immunotherapy in the treatment of cancer.

Click here to learn more about this medical journal-published study,  “Observation of the effects of LAK/IL-2 therapy combining with Lycium barbarum polysaccharides in the treatment of seventy-five cancer patients” published in 1994.

Big mistakes cancer patients make: #3 Not working with a trained health professional to conduct an independent analysis and devise a workable cancer combat plan.

If you don’t already know, there is no 100% guaranteed success with the use of chemo drugs when dealing with cancer and cancer growth. This also applies to the use of plant-based anti-cancer agents. The effects of treatment for cancer can also be difficult to deal with.

Giving another example, as we all know, women experience significant breast cancer risk. There are five significant subtypes of breast cancer. Unless a biopsy is done by your healthcare team or primary care provider, and appropriate cancer markers are identified through a series of cancer marker tests, the specific subtype of breast cancer cannot be determined. Your medical history, a physical exam, an ultrasound, CT scan or MRI image cannot determine the specific subtype of cancer.

So, just as a specific antibiotic is vital to treat a particular bacterial infection, specific chemo drug effectiveness also applies to specific cancer subtypes. Natural anti-cancer agents work the same way.

When the anti-cancer agents are proven effective in producing an anti-cancer effect on specific subtypes, they may have the same anti-cancer effect when used to assist patients to fight cancer. Factors such as dosage, bioavailability, current medication use, the patient’s constitution, specific cancer markers, cancer subtypes, the anti-cancer agent’s specific cancer-killing mechanism, etc., must be carefully reviewed and studied before any natural remedy prescription is made.

So, when it comes to strengthening your immune system to fight and treat cancer using natural remedies, we need a well thought out and specific plan to prescribe these agents systematically. This plan is patient specific, and must take into account all available factors and information on the patient - the specific type of cancer, cancer markers, lab test results, conventional treatment by your healthcare team, and potential natural remedies.

In some cases, the dosage of the natural anti-cancer agents has to be very high to increase bioavailability, initiate a possible synergistic anti-cancer effect to help patients overcome drug resistance, and to strengthen the immunomodulatory effect on symptom suppression.

In other cases, adjuvant substances such as nutrient based supplements are necessary to enhance absorption and bioavailability. So, the natural anti-cancer remedies can be delivered and will be of assistance to help the patient fight cancer.

As we can see even from this brief overview, using anti-cancer agents to treat cancer and achieve positive cancer outcomes involves detailed analysis and careful planning by trained healthcare professionals. It is not a simple task that anyone should try on their own in an attempt to cure their own cancer. You might get it right by chance, but this is not very likely, as many complex interwoven factors need to be taken into account, and missing just one or two of the critical pieces of the jigsaw puzzle may result in failure.

Even with this knowledge, there is no guarantee of success. What we do know from the many studies that have been carried out is that, when used appropriately, and where patients can take the remedies on time and with the correct dosages, natural plant-based anti-cancer agents may extend lifespan.

Similar to the earlier clinical studies, co-treatment with goji berry extract increased the cancer remission response rate from 16.1% to 40.9%. This means you have an increased chance of survival. This is a solid reason to seriously consider using natural anti-cancer agents as part of your cancer survivorship care guidelines.

There are many more proven natural anti-cancer remedies out there. The key is to use the ones that have been tested and proven to have a beneficial effect for your type of cancer, so that you can fight cancer with greater chances of success. If you’re serious about living a better quality or cancer-free life, repeating the mistakes cancer patients make can't help you fight cancer, working with trained health professionals to come up with a detailed plan is crucial to your successful cancer journey.

If you are looking for a Registered Acupuncturist and Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioner in Mississauga, Ontario, as part of your healthcare team, reach out to Bernadette Yu. I have completed a rigorous five-year hands-on advanced training program in acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine, and been an active seminar speaker over the past few years on alternative cancer treatments and the alleviation of cancer treatment short and long term side effects.

My complementary treatment protocols are tailored to the specific concerns and needs of individual patients. If you have any cancer-related questions or you are looking to book an appointment, get in touch with me by clicking here 

Bernadette Yu

Bernadette Yu is an Ontario Registered Acupuncturist & Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioner. She provides Acupuncture Treatment, Chinese Herbal Medicine Consultation and prescriptions, Nutritional Counselling and Bioenergetic testing services in a medical clinic in Mississauga, Ontario.

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