Yesterday I ended my cautionary post about using anti-cancer supplements during cancer therapy this way:

Using lots of supplements in large doses can be tricky, especially for a cancer patient.  For the record, I use a lot of supplements.  But I don’t take them in mega-doses.  And I always seek outside guidance.  Let’s face it, oncologists tend to be very busy.  Their focus isn’t on supplements and nutrition.  Instead, they spend hours and hours each week just trying to keep-up with the latest drug and therapy related developments.

So remember to check with your doctor and find one or more sources you can trust before adding a new supplement to your pill box.

I will follow-up on this tomorrow…

OK.  As promised, let me share my “middle of the road” philosophy” about using supplements to help slow–or reverse–the growth of once’s cancer.

Two weeks a ago this subject came-up during a staff meeting prior to a panel discussion I joined down in New Orleans at the Oncology Nurses Society (OCS) annual meetings:

About my meaningful trip to New Orleans

Oncology nurse, Beth Faiman, with Cleveland Clinic, and IMER Medical Director, Libia Scheller, became quite involved in a discussion about how medical professionals should never use the term “alternative medicine.”

Instead, complimentary medicine is the medically/politically correct term of choice.

I’ve got no problem with that.  For me, the safe way to use supplements is as an adjunct to a patient’s primary anti-cancer therapy.  In other words, to help enhance the performance of a patient’s more conventional Western style medical treatment using chemotherapy, radiation therapy, surgery and/or stem cell transplant.

I know, I know.  Not very exciting.  But in the large majority of cases, I’m just not buying using nutrition, mysterious forms of eastern medicine or cleansing as the only anti-cancer therapy once a patient has been diagnosed.

But a combination approaches makes a lot of sense to me.  I take several supplements, all but one designed to enhance the effectiveness of a pair of different chemotherapy drugs I’m currently using.

Only one supplement that I have researched, curcumin, has proven anti-cancer/anti multiple myeloma properties when used on it’s own.  Here are two links to stories I have written about it in the past:

My anti-myeloma nutrition update/review

Using pros/cons to using curcumin to help fight multiple myeloma

There are a dozen or more other curcumin related posts on my daily MultipleMyelomaBlog.com site.  To find them, simply go to my HOME PAGE and type “curcumin” into the long, almost black query bar in the upper right hand corner of the page.  Not the short grey box at the very top.  Use the longer one–with the bright red dot on the far right side–instead.

Multiple myeloma is a form of bone marrow cancer.  Curcumin–a concentrated form of turmeric–has been proven to slow the growth of myeloma–and a number of other cancers–in both the lab and during human trials.

That excites myeloma patients with a conditions like MGUS or smoldering myeloma, where the bone marrow cancer hasn’t become active enough to require aggressive chemotherapy or stem cell transplant.

So often these patients take curcumin (sometimes a lot–up to 8 gm a day) as a stand-alone, anti-myeloma therapy.

But I use it to enhance the effectiveness of two chemotherapy agents I am using for ongoing maintenance therapy; Revlimid and Velcade.

If I were a cancer patient with any type of cancer, I think I would add curcumin to my supplement regimen–with my doctors approval, of course.

Curcumin is one of the few examples of a supplement which has been proven to work against cancer using a double blind clinical trial model, just like FDA approved chemotherapy drugs.

Aspirin is another.   There may be more–but not very many.

So far, so good!  But what concerns me is when a patient starts to use a lot of different supplements in large doses, subscribing to the theory that “More is better.”

Not true with antioxidants, for example.  Using a lot of concentrated antioxidant supplements during cancer therapy could hinder the ability of that therapy to work it’s best.

Now we aren’t talking about eating a handful of blueberries each day.  I’m talking about taking several capsules of concentrated antioxidants.

The potential risk:  The antioxidants may help strengthen the vary cancer cells the chemotherapy is trying to destroy.

I have been working on a book which takes a detailed, closer look at how best to use supplements and diet to help fight cancer for almost four years.  I have the first draft back from editing, but here are a lot of updates, cuts and re-writes to do.  It should be published by year’s end.

In the meantime, common sense is the key.  And remember:  Parsley, oregano, blueberries, cranberries and other brightly colored foods are packed-full of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals–the way nature intended.

Feel good and keep smiling!  Pat

 

 

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