Cancer: What happens AFTER treatment?

“All of us have cancer cells in our bodies. But not all of us will develop cancer.”- David Servan-Schreiber, MD, PhD

Surviving cancer is a difficult journey requiring remarkable courage and endurance. Conventional treatments such as radiation, chemotherapy, immunotherapy and surgery are often necessary, but they do not address why cancer cells are being generated in the first place. Many patients, after undergoing treatment, ask their oncologist what happens next and if there’s anything they can do to better their health, but are often told to just come back at regular intervals for check-ups and monitoring. “You’re cancer-free now. There’s nothing you need to do but to enjoy life!” is often heard… but is there really NOTHING we can do to prevent cancer from recurring after surviving it once?  

Consider these points:

1) In the article “Tumors: Wounds That Do Not Heal” (NEJM, 315, no.26: 1650-59), Dr. Harold Dvorak, professor of pathology at Harvard Medical School, demonstrated a surprising similarity between mechanisms sparked by naturally occurring inflammation and the manufacture of cancerous growths. More recent research has proven that the more successful cancers are in stimulating local inflammation, the more aggressive the tumor and the better it is at spreading and causing metastases.

2) Annie Sasco, MD, PhD, who spent 22 years working at the World Health Organization (WHO)’s International Agency for Cancer Research and ran the unit of epidemiology for cancer prevention at the WHO for 6 years, found as part of her research findings:

  • For the same age groups, breast, prostate and colon cancers are nine times more prevalent in the United States and Northern Europe than in China, Laos or Korea, and four times more than in Japan.
  • However, the cancer rate among the Chinese and Japanese in Hawaii and in San Francisco is quickly approaching that of Westerners.
  • Also, in the past decade, breast cancer rates in major cities of China, along with Hong Kong, have tripled. 

 3) For women carrying high risk genes (BRCA-1 and BRCA-2), the risk of developing breast cancer before age fifty has almost tripled for women born after World War II, compared to those born before the war (Science 302, no.5645: 643-46). Three major factors have drastically changed our environment since World War II:

  • Addition of large quantities of refined sugars in our diet.
  • Changes in methods of raising animals/ farming (as a result, our food has changed).
  • Exposure to a large number of chemical products that didn’t exist prior to 1940.

So, what does this all mean to us who want to lower our risk of developing cancer? Or lower our risk of cancer recurrence?

  1. Reduce unnecessary inflammation. A traditional Western diet (refined sugars, white flour, processed foods, red meats and dairy products from industrially raised animals), persistent or unmanaged anger or despair, less than 20 minutes of exercise a day and cigarette smoke all aggravate the inflammatory process. Steps to reduce inflammation include eating a variety of colourful fruits (blueberries, pomegranates, raspberries, blackberries, papayas, etc.) and vegetables (such as broccoli, brussels sprouts, beets, spinach, kale, cabbage, cauliflower, sweet potatoes), whole grains, foods rich in omega-3 (fish, omega-3 eggs, almonds, etc.), engaging in regular activity (30-minute walk, 6 times a week), laughter, lightheartedness, serenity and living in a clean (or less polluted) environment.
  2. Avoid trans-fat, animal fats, processed foods, white or brown (processed) sugar and sweetened drinks (fruit juice from concentrate, soft drinks).
  3. Choose whole grains, whole-grain cereals/ breads, colourful fruits and vegetables, lentils and beans. Use herbs/spices such as turmeric, rosemary, basil, oregano, cinnamon, ginger, garlic, onions, leeks, shallots and chives.
  4.  Organic yogurt, kefir, green tea, red wine (containing the antioxidant resveratrol) in moderation and dark chocolate in moderation are also recommended as beneficial “anti-cancer” foods.
  5. Use natural cleaning products, glass or ceramic containers, non-Teflon pans, and filtered tap water through carbon filter or reverse osmosis.
  6. If you need help developing an individualized diet plan, supporting your immune system to regulate proper inflammatory response, navigating through natural health products, or learning more on how to reduce toxic exposure, seek a licensed naturopathic doctor near you.

SOURCE: Anti-Cancer: A New Way of Life by David Servan-Schreiber, MD, PhD

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