Cancer and Nutrition

This section is compiled by Frank M. Painter, D.C.
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If there are terms in these articles you don't understand, you can get a definition from the Merriam Webster Medical Dictionary. If you want information about a specific disease, you can access the Merck Manual. You can also search Pub Med for more abstracts on this, or any other health topic.

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Cancer and Nutrition Articles

Chiropractic And Cancer Page
The judicial use of chiropractic services in cancer patients appears to offer many economical and effective strategies for reducing the pain and suffering of cancer patients, as well as providing the potential to improve patient health overall.

Breast Cancer Risks of the Wealthy
Dr. Nancy Maxwell of the Silent Spring Institute

Researchers suspect the cause (increased cancer incidence) is not income or education of course, but environment. A much larger percentage of the women reporting cancers used professional lawn and/or dry cleaning services, and were more likely to use pesticides inside their home.

Cancer Prevention by Dietary Bioactive Components That Target
the Immune Response

Curr Cancer Drug Targets 2007 (Aug); 7 (5): 459–464

Dietary bioactive food components that interact with the immune response have considerable potential to reduce the risk of cancer. Reduction of chronic inflammation or its downstream consequences may represent a key mechanism that can be reduced through targeting signal transduction or through antioxidant effects. Major classes of macronutrients provide numerous examples, including amino acids such as glutamine or arginine, lipids such as the omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, DHA or EPA, or novel carbohydrates such as various sources of beta-glucans.

Ancient Medicine, Modern Use:
Withania somnifera and its Potential Role in Integrative Oncology

Alternative Medicine Review 2006 (Dec); 11 (4): 269–277 ~ FULL TEXT

Withania somnifera Dunal, commonly known as ashwagandha, has been used for centuries in Ayurvedic medicine to increase longevity and vitality. Western research supports its polypharmaceutical use, confirming antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, immune-modulating, and antistress properties in the whole plant extract and several separate constituents. This article reviews the literature pertaining to Withania somnifera and its botanical constituents as antitumor agents and in conjunction with radiation and chemotherapy treatment.

DNA Damage From Micronutrient Deficiencies
Is Likely To Be a Major Cause of Cancer

Mutat Res 2001 (Apr 18); 475 (1-2): 7–20

A deficiency of any of the micronutrients: folic acid, Vitamin B12, Vitamin B6, niacin, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, iron, or zinc, mimics radiation in damaging DNA by causing single- and double-strand breaks, oxidative lesions, or both. For example, the percentage of the US population that has a low intake (<50% of the RDA) for each of these eight micronutrients ranges from 2 to >20%. A level of folate deficiency causing chromosome breaks was present in approximately 10% of the US population, and in a much higher percentage of the poor.

Estrogen Replacement Therapy and Ovarian Cancer Mortality
in a Large Prospective Study of US Women

JAMA 2001 (Mar 21); 285 (11): 1460-1465

In this population, postmenopausal estrogen use for 10 or more years was associated with increased risk of ovarian cancer mortality that persisted up to 29 years after cessation of use.

Natural Agents in the Prevention of Cancer
Data exist in the scientific literature showing reduction in the risk of tumor occurrence achieved by the use of nutritional and other natural materials. However, many trials that have attempted to prevent cancer occurrence with nutritional supplementation have found no effect or even increased tumor incidence. Several factors appear to be responsible for these disparate data, including the forms of nutrients used and the types of cancer being studied.

   Part I: Human Chemoprevention Trials
Alternative Medicine Review 2001 (Feb); 6 (1): 7–19 ~ FULL TEXT

The battle against cancer has been waged for several decades without resounding curative success from the use of chemotherapy or radiotherapy in most common solid tumors. (1) Much of the present day research directed against active malignancy has shifted toward identification of strategies affecting the growth rate or apoptosis of such cells so that life with cancer can be greatly extended without the deleterious effects of the more aggressive therapies.

   Part II: Preclinical Data and Chemoprevention for Common Cancers
Alternative Medicine Review 2001 (Apr); 6 (2): 167–187 ~ FULL TEXT

This paper is the second of a series examining the use of nutritional supplements as chemopreventive agents. The first paper in the series examined the data from human chemoprevention trials. (1) In the present paper the mechanisms of action of promising treatments will be discussed. In vitro and animal data are presented in support of the agents as appropriate. The subject of chemoprevention with nutritional agents has been the subject of voluminous research, and this review should not be considered exhaustive. In cases where review articles already exist regarding a particular agent (e.g., vitamin A, beta-carotene), these papers should be consulted for a more complete summary.

Scientific Basis for the Therapeutic Use of Withania somnifera
(Ashwagandha):   A Review

Alternative Medicine Review 2000 (Aug); 5 (4): 334-346 ~ FULL TEXT

Studies indicate ashwagandha possesses anti-inflammatory, antitumor, antistress, antioxidant, immunomodulatory, hemopoetic, and rejuvenating properties. It also appears to exert a positive influence on the endocrine, cardiopulmonary, and central nervous systems. The mechanisms of action for these properties are not fully understood. Toxicity studies reveal that ashwagandha appears to be a safe compound.

Antioxidants and Cancer Therapy
Evidence reviewed here demonstrates exogenous antioxidants alone produce beneficial effects in various cancers, and except for a few specific cases, animal and human studies demonstrate no reduction of efficacy of chemotherapy or radiation when given with antioxidants. In fact, considerable data exists showing increased effectiveness of many cancer therapeutic agents, as well as a decrease in adverse effects, when given concurrently with antioxidants.

   Part I: Their Actions and Interactions With Oncologic Therapies
Alternative Medicine Review 1999 (Oct); 4 (5): 304–329 ~ FULL TEXT

Dietary and endogenous antioxidants prevent cellular damage by reacting with and eliminating oxidizing free radicals. However, in cancer treatment, a mode of action of certain chemotherapeutic agents involves the generation of free radicals to cause cellular damage and necrosis of malignant cells. So a concern has logically developed as to whether exogenous antioxidant compounds taken concurrently during chemotherapy could reduce the beneficial effect of chemotherapy on malignant cells. The importance of this concern is underlined by a recent study which estimates 23 percent of cancer patients take antioxidants. (1)

   Part II: Quick Reference Guide
Alternative Medicine Review 2000 (Apr); 5 (2): 152–163 ~ FULL TEXT

This guide is meant to be a companion to the previous review on effects of antioxidant supplementation during cancer therapy. (1) Widespread use of antioxidant compounds makes this an area of increasing interest to oncologists as well as other physicians; hence, the attempt to reduce the findings of a lengthy report to a manageable guide.

   Part III: Quercetin
Alternative Medicine Review 2000 (Jun); 5 (3): 196–204 ~ FULL TEXT

Quercetin (3,3',4',5,7-pentahydroxyflavone; Figure 1, R= OH) belongs to an extensive class of polyphenolic flavonoid compounds almost ubiquitous in plants and plant food sources. Frequently quercetin occurs as glycosides (sugar derivatives); e.g., rutin (Figure 1) in which the hydrogen of the R-4 hydroxyl group is replaced by a disaccharide. Quercetin is termed the aglycone, or sugarless form of rutin. Two extensive volumes, the proceedings of major meetings on plant flavonoids, presented much of the biological and medical data about quercetin in 1985 and 1987. (1,2)

High Doses of Multiple Antioxidant Vitamins: Essential Ingredients
in Improving the Efficacy of Standard Cancer Therapy

J Am Coll Nutr 1999 (Feb); 18 (1): 13-25

Numerous articles and several reviews have been published on the role of antioxidants, and diet and lifestyle modifications in cancer prevention. However, the potential role of these factors in the management of human cancer have been largely ignored. Extensive in vitro studies and limited in vivo studies have revealed that individual antioxidants such as vitamin A (retinoids), vitamin E (primarily alpha-tocopheryl succinate), vitamin C (primarily sodium ascorbate) and carotenoids (primarily polar carotenoids) induce cell differentiation and growth inhibition to various degrees in rodent and human cancer cells by complex mechanisms.

Micronutrients Prevent Cancer and Delay Aging
Toxicology Letter 1998 (Dec 28); 102-103: 5–18

Approximately 40 micronutrients are required in the human diet. Deficiency of vitamins B12, folic acid, B6, niacin, C, or E, or iron, or zinc, appears to mimic radiation in damaging DNA by causing single- and double-strand breaks, oxidative lesions, or both. The percentage of the US population that has a low intake (< 50% of the RDA) for each of these eight micronutrients ranges from 2% to > or = 20%; half of the population may be deficient in at least one of these micronutrients.

Cancer Undefeated
New England Journal of Medicine 1997 (May 29); 336 (22): 1569–1574 ~ FULL TEXT

The war against cancer is far from over. Observed changes in mortality due to cancer primarily reflect changing incidence or early detection. The effect of new treatments for cancer on mortality has been largely disappointing. The most promising approach to the control of cancer is a national commitment to prevention, with a concomitant rebalancing of the focus and funding of research.

The Role of Free Radicals in Disease
Aust N Z J Ophthalmol 1995 (Feb); 23 (1): 3–7

Evidence is accumulating that most of the degenerative diseases that afflict humanity have their origin in deleterious free radical reactions. These diseases include atherosclerosis, cancer, inflammatory joint disease, asthma, diabetes, senile dementia and degenerative eye disease.

The Leading Causes of Death
Mortality Patterns -- United States, 1991

Careful analysis of the tables below demonstrates that the top killers of human–kind are lifestyle–related and often preventable. Chronic diseases comprise the three leading causes of death in the United States –– heart disease, cancer, and cerebrovascular disease –– and they account for nearly two thirds of all deaths.

Defeating Free Radicals: The Key to Longevity
Renewal: The Anti-Aging Revolution

Great moments in human history often begin inauspiciously. Such was the case in December 1945, when the wife of Denham Harmon handed him the latest issue of the Ladies' Home Journal. It was opened to an article titled "Tomorrow You May Be Younger," written by William L. Laurence, science editor of the New York Times. This article, heralding the work of a Russian gerontologist on an "anti-reticular cytotoxic serum," sparked Dr. Harmon's interest in finding an answer to the riddle of aging--a subject that scientists of the time knew absolutely nothing about.

Cancer's Sweet Tooth
Nutrition Science News (April 2000)

Of the 4 million cancer patients being treated in America today, hardly any are offered any scientifically guided nutrition therapy beyond being told to "just eat good foods." Most patients I work with arrive with a complete lack of nutritional advice. I believe many cancer patients would have a major improvement in their outcome if they controlled the supply of cancer's preferred fuel, glucose.

Beating Cancer With Nutrition
Nutrition Science News

“I'm sorry, but you have cancer.” These words from a doctor introduce fear into the heart of any patient. The good news is that supportive nutrition therapy can significantly increase cancer patients' quality and length of life and improve their chances for a complete remission. Better yet, a healthy lifestyle that includes a wholesome diet, sufficient exercise, positive attitude and toxin avoidance can prevent up to 90 percent of cancers.

Fighting Cancer With Food
Functional Foods & Nutraceuticals (August 2001)

The four main causes of cancer are radiation, toxins, infections and, surprisingly, food itself, as certain foods can contain carcinogens. Although some recent techniques such as cancer 'immunisation' are promising, they are not available just yet. In the meantime, a series of safe, inexpensive, nutritional steps can be taken in the fight against cancer, as follows:

The Cancer Prevention Diet
Nutrition Science News (August 1999)

Cancer is a prominent killer of Americans--second only to heart disease--and responsible for more than a half million deaths yearly. The good news is that scientific validation for the protective power of food is accumulating. And empowering people to preserve their health through daily choices puts responsibility in patients' hands.


Supplements That Support Cancer Recovery

Co–Q10 and Cancer

Essential Fatty Acids and Cancer

Garlic and Cancer

Selenium and Cancer

Soy and Cancer

Sulforaphane and Cancer

Vitamin C and Cancer

Vitamin E and Cancer



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