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From the Townsend Letter for Doctors & Patients
June 2004
Integrative Oncology
review by Irene Alleger
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Natural Strategies for Cancer Patients
by Russell L. Blaylock, MD
Kensington Publishing Corp. 850 Third Avenue, New York, New York 10022 USA
Quality paperback, 2003, $15 US, $21 CAN, 364 pp.

There has been an ongoing controversy about the role of nutrition, and especially, antioxidants, in the treatment of cancer, because they might interfere with the standard treatment — chemotherapy. Dr. Blaylock has been treating cancer patients with nutritional supplements for about 30 years, and has "never seen a single case of tumor-growth acceleration or interference with conventional treatments."

In Natural Strategies for Cancer Patients, he not only refutes these fears as "myths," citing a growing number of scientific studies, he also provides the evidence for nutritional supplements being able to enhance the effectiveness of chemotherapy, as well as prevent the most serious side effects. In fact, they powerfully protect normal cells from becoming cancer cells..."This not only is important in preventing cancer from forming in the first place, but is especially important in preventing secondary cancers created by chemotherapy and radiation treatments themselves," says Blaylock.

He also writes about diet and nutrition in some of the clearest terms you'll ever read, making "nutrition" much easier for the average patient to understand, especially in the context of cancer. For instance, several studies have found that eating large amounts of fruits and vegetables, especially vegetables, not only retards the growth of cancers, but can convert very aggressive cancers into much more benign tumors. Dr. Blaylock explains the cancer process (again very clearly) and how cancer cells differ from normal cells..."Selected nutritional supplements affect the cancer cell at multiple steps in its metabolism.... Nutritional supplements do this more effectively than either chemotherapy or radiation treatments...."

The author describes supplement use in detail, explaining the important difference between natural and synthetic vitamins, and cautions against taking single vitamins alone. In fact, Dr. Blaylock says depending on supplements alone will fail, because first of all, nutrients work synergistically — that is, vitamins never occur alone — they interact. Blaylock insists that cancer patients change their diet, and not just depend on supplements.

Dr. Blaylock shares his considerable accumulated wisdom in treating cancer patients, in this book. There are detailed explanations of dietary protocols, from his experience, as well as citing many recent studies that explain, for instance, that chronically ill people are much more likely to develop cancer than healthier people, and their longterm medication use depletes nutrition, so that cancer patients are usually undernourished when they begin treatment.

In explaining the cancer process, the author defines the role of free radicals in both causing cancer, and in chemotherapy and why some people are more likely to develop cancer. Our DNA repair ability depends on certain nutrients which are often missing in the Western diet. He also talks about the years of exposure to carcinogens in our environment, and the important nutrients needed for detoxification. The many known causes of cancer are discussed: carcinogens which accumulate in the body; oncogenic viruses; radiation (mammograms themselves increase breast cancer risk by 3% per year because of the radiation exposure); high calorie malnutrition.

In a chapter titled "Chemotherapy: Poisoning Cancer (and You)," the chemical compounds used to treat cancer are looked at, and how they work. The many complications and side effects of chemotherapy are covered: fatigue; nausea and vomiting; food aversion; hair loss; bone marrow depression (specific supplements are recommended); cardiac toxicity (a major cause of death of cancer patients); pulmonary complications; gastrointestinal complications; liver and kidney injury; neurological complications; and of course, damage to the immune system.

Nowhere does Dr. Blaylock suggest that a cancer patient should avoid conventional treatment — only that they learn and use nutritional supplements and dietary changes to greatly improve their chances of recovery. He clearly differentiates between theory and research, and has the ability to communicate complex processes better than most. He gives the facts, studies, etc. and lets the reader come to his/her own conclusions, although Blaylock lays out the oncology scenario for all to see — that oncologists will try to dissuade the patient from taking antioxidants — not out of knowledge, but out of ignorance. It's probably not a comfortable place to be — defying the man who presumably has your life in his hands. But the moderate tone throughout the book, the clear explanations, and the research cited, will leave the reader with an idea that might just save their life.

In 1994, the results of the Alpha-Tocopheral Beta-Carotene Study were announced, supposedly indicating that beta-carotene causes lung cancer. Dr. Blaylock examines the flaws in the study, including subjects who were longtime smokers and drinkers, and the use of the synthetic form of the vitamin. These flaws are common to many of the studies done on single vitamins. The argument for eating fruits and vegetables vs supplementing alone, is made time and again in Natural Strategies for Cancer Patients, because nutrients always work together, synergistically.

The role of immune surveillance is covered thoroughly, and the theory that some cancer cells lay dormant until the immune system fails through lack of essential nutrients, is examined. Conventional cancer treatments can severely damage the immune system, which is another primary reason for providing a nutritional program. The many researched immune-stimulating supplements such as thymus protein, medicinal mushrooms, MGN-3, PC-SPES, olive leaf extract, Ginseng, and Chinese herbs are discussed.

The special problems of cancer therapy such as fatigue and weight loss can be dramatically improved, writes Dr. Blaylock, by simply taking a good multiple vitamin. Apparently, oncologists seem to believe that supplying enhanced nutrition will feed the cancer — a belief that the author of Nutritional Strategies for Cancer Patients puts to rest with scientific studies, as well as his 30 years of experience in providing nutritional protocols to cancer patients. He states that starvation is the most common cause of death in cancer patients — a horrifying fact, especially if it can be prevented.

Russell Blaylock, MD has written a definitive text on the use of nutrition in treating cancer patients. His book should encourage and bring hope to the cancer patient, and lay the groundwork for positive change in the practice of oncology.




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