I’ve been hearing a lot of discussion lately about becoming an empowered patient, how to advocate for your own health, and how to be your own healer. In most cases, people equate knowledge with empowerment, but even in today’s age of information, sometimes the power does not come so easily.
With regards to a serious life-threatening diagnosis such as prostate cancer, how do you know which road to take, which report to believe in, and which treatment option to focus your energy on? I just read a recent article posted on a prostate cancer website, bleakly stating that new studies show there is no evidence for the use of diet and dietary supplements in decreasing the risks of prostate cancer. This can be disheartening news to anyone who has spent significant hope, energy and money planning and taking dietary supplements and following an “anti-cancer” diet rigorously. How do you know if all of these therapies that are so celebrated in the alternative medicine world actually work?
The Empowered Patient
As an integrative physician with a focus on treating cancer, I can attest to the clinical benefits of a high antioxidant diet and supplement program in helping patients recover from active cancer, as well as in helping to maintain their cancer-free bodies. Cancer-free maintenance that is aided by antioxidants and nutrients applies both to post-treatment patients, and for patients in the watchful waiting phase, as many prostate cancer patients are in now. However, when treating active cancer, it is important to note that diet and supplementation best serve as a foundation on which to build an integrative, comprehensive treatment strategy, utilizing a number of other complementary therapies, both within the realms of conventional medicine as well as alternative, depending on the individual.
Strategic, individualized protocols that are tailored to each patient’s unique history and diagnosis are the best way to fight cancer from all angles and help to raise the prospects of a positive clinical outcome. Still, the long term use of specific supplements, herbs, and nutritional compounds that have been shown to reduce cancer via numerous mechanisms of action, are going to be the best foundational strategy for any treatment program. This is true especially with regards to prostate cancer where so much energy is now placed on watchful waiting.
The scientific, peer-reviewed studies demonstrating the effectiveness of nutritional compounds in the prevention and treatment of cancer, including prostate cancer, are too numerous to ignore. Though not scientifically relevant, the number of clinical anecdotal reports on the benefits of specific antioxidants, herbs, botanicals, and other nutraceutical agents in helping to treat cancer, are likewise abundant in the world of complementary medicine.
Major studies have been done on diet and cancer connections, and the results are conclusive: a diet which increases oxidative stress in the body and promotes inflammation has strong links to prostate cancer, and many other cancers as well. Factors such as habitual alcohol consumption, excessive red meat intake, and diets that are high in saturated fat are all linked to increased risks of prostate and other cancers. Conversely, diets that are high in antioxidants, cruciferous vegetables, and fiber, have been directly linked to lowered prostate and other cancer risks.
One new study I just came across highlights the effects of green tea and red wine polyphenols in helping to treat aggressive prostate cancer. Polyphenols are powerful antioxidants that are abundant in green tea and red wine, among other sources such as the extract resveratrol. These antioxidants have been shown to impede prostate cancer cell growth in vitro and in vivo by inhibiting the SphK1/S1P pathway which is associated with prostate cancer cell proliferation and migration as well as resistance to treatment.
These findings represent another victory in the natural fight against prostate cancer by using compounds that are safe and effective. However, as Congress gets ready to vote on the bill S510, labeled the Food Safety Bill, there will be more media propaganda aimed at discrediting the natural foods and supplement industry, as heavy handed Big Pharma and Big Agra poise to seize control over our freedom of health choices yet again. Make sure to call and write your senators and urge them to vote NO on this bill.
Becoming an empowered patient has many far reaching implications, not least of all a greater awareness of yourself, your individual needs and unique abilities, and a potentially expanded clarity as to your life’s priorities and goals. Empowering yourself with in-depth knowledge regarding your diagnosis and treatment options can provide a dose of much needed hope in the face of mainstream oncology.
Dr. Isaac Eliaz, a pioneer in the field of integrative medicine since the early 1980's, is a respected author, lecturer, researcher, product formulator and clinical practitioner.
Since 1991 Dr. Eliaz has maintained a busy private practice in northern California that focuses primarily on integrative, holistic protocols for cancer patients. He leads an integrative medical team at Amitabha Clinic in Sebastopol, California with focus on cancer and other chronic ailments.
To learn more, please visit www.dreliaz.org.
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