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From the Townsend Letter for Doctors & Patients
June 2002
Our June 2002 cover

Overcoming Oncologists' Objections:
Safe & Effective Non-Drug Support
for Prostate and Breast Cancers

by Shari Lieberman, PhD, CNS, FACN

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Patients with prostate and breast cancer often are faced with a discouraging dilemma. Many people diagnosed with cancer have spent a great deal of time seeking out and researching the medical literature relating to their diseases. Ultimately, they encounter the large body of published research and clinical data that reveals how antioxidants and other natural compounds can either directly support recovery from their disease or protect them from the terrible side effects of conventional anticancer therapies. Once they discover this information, it is only natural that they want to incorporate these compounds into their therapy — until they talk to their oncologist.

By training, cancer specialists will not allow their patients to use any compound they're unfamiliar with. Consequently, when cancer patients want to start taking antioxidants to help them deal with the side effects of chemotherapy and radiation therapy, their oncologist usually objects. This leaves patients in a quandary.

In this article, I will address how I overcame this obstacle to using nutritional therapy in breast and prostate cancer. In addition, I will talk about the proper nutrients cancer patients can use (either alone or along with conventional therapies) without worrying about potential interactions between conventional anticancer treatments and alternative therapies.

Safe Support
The best way to overcome the objections of traditional oncologists, I decided, was to work with an oncologist versed in the medical research on natural therapies. Specifically, I was looking for a cancer specialist who could not only verify the benefits of certain natural compounds based on peer-reviewed studies, but ideally someone who was experienced in the use of these natural agents in his own clinical practice. I wanted to obtain input from an oncologist who had experience using a natural approach and who could verify the safety and effectiveness of these compounds in treating cancer.

My search led me to Dr. Friedrich Douwes, a noted oncologist and the Executive Medical Director of the St. George Hospital Cancer Treatment Center in Bad Aibling, Germany. I had visited his clinic several times and was aware of his tremendous experience in using these compounds with many patients. I knew that Dr. Douwes was very familiar with using natural therapies along with conventional treatments and that he had reviewed the literature and clinical data on alternative therapies.

Dr. Douwes is one of the few oncologists I've ever met who really knows about these natural compounds. He has been using natural treatments for more than two decades. In my experience that is extremely rare for an oncologist. I have many colleagues treating cancer patients with nutritional therapies, but very few of them are oncologists.

Collaborating with Dr. Douwes allowed me to develop BCF (Breast Care Formula) and PCF (Prostate Care Formula). When we sat down to begin working on these formulas, we outlined four guiding principals.

First, each ingredient had to be backed by published research. Second, the mechanism of a given compound's actions had to be understood. Third, the ingredients had to be completely non-toxic. And fourth, we would only include ingredients that would not interfere in any way with conventional anticancer therapies.

We set out to review the ingredients that we knew were helpful in cancer. Some of the ingredients were proven to help patients by protecting healthy cells while making chemotherapeutic drugs more selective for cancer. Other ingredients were shown to help by making chemotherapy in and of itself more effective.

By combining these safe and effective ingredients, Dr. Douwes and I hoped that the patients wouldn't find themselves locking horns with their oncologists. The following nutrients have no downside and can be used alone or concomitantly with all of the current anticancer therapies.

Epidemiological studies have consistently shown that low serum levels of selenium are directly linked to an increased risk of developing prostate cancer. In fact, selenium has been shown to block the growth cycle of cell reproduction and induce apoptosis (programmed cell death) in prostate cancer cells. In women, selenium has been shown to inhibit VEGF (vascular endothelial growth factor) in breast cancer cells. Research also shows that selenium reduces the incidence of malignant cells in animal models, and enhances the effects of chemotherapeutic drugs, such as Taxol® and adriamycin.

Coenzyme Q10
Cancer patients are often very seriously deficient in this nutrient. CoQ10 is an antioxidant that protects against numerous reactive oxygen species (ROS) that are involved in cancers, particularly breast cancer. Most impressively, researchers have reported cases of induced remission in late stage breast cancer patients taking CoQ10, and published reports indicate that it may also be therapeutic for patients with prostate cancer.

Boswellia Serrata
The major constituent boswellic acid has been shown to demonstrate anti-carcinogenic and anti-tumor activity in several animal models. It also reduces inflammation and favors the production of anti-inflammatory prostaglandins, which prevent metastasis.

The list of anticancer properties of quercetin is really impressive. First, quercetin is a plant phytochemical similar to, and in some ways, more powerful than vitamin C. Like vitamin C, quercetin works by multiple mechanisms to prevent and fight cancers.

First, quercetin is a potent aromatase inhibitor that prevents the conversion of DHEA and testosterone to estrogen, which is well established for its role in promoting both breast and prostate cancers. Quercetin also prevents cancer by inhibiting estrone sulfatase in the liver, stimulating the immune response. In addition, quercetin triggers cancer cell apoptosis. It also benefits cancer patients by inactivating potentially carcinogenic liver enzymes while inhibiting the proliferation of cancer metastases.

In a recent paper, researchers found that quercetin inhibits the cancer-causing effects of hydrogen peroxide. Cells must communicate with each other to stay healthy and to promote normal cell growth. Hydrogen peroxide is a known tumor promoter that works, in part, by inhibiting normal cell communication. What researchers discovered from animal studies is that quercetin works to inhibit this tumor-promoting property of hydrogen peroxide. The research, just published at the beginning of the year, may help to explain why cancer rates are often lower in people who eat foods high in phytochemicals and vitamin C.

Another beneficial property of quercetin is that it works synergistically with numerous drugs used in the treatment of cancer, including ribavarin, adriamycin and tamoxifen.

Lycopene is the most potent carotenoid inhibitor of breast and prostate cancer progression. Research has shown that lycopene interferes with insulin-like growth factors (IGF) that are potent promoters of breast and prostate cancer. By interfering with these growth factors, lycopene may reduce both the occurrence and the progression of breast and prostate cancers.

For example, recent epidemiological studies show that lycopene reduces the risk of prostate cancer. Additional research suggests that lycopene may also decrease the growth and spread of prostate cancers. In a Phase II study of men undergoing radical prostatectomy (removal of prostate), 73 percent of men given supplemental lycopene before surgery showed no spread of the cancer beyond the prostate. In the group of controls men not receiving supplemental lycopene these numbers were almost reversed. In addition, plasma prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels dropped 18 percent in the lycopene group, while increasing 14 percent in the control group. These results suggest another mechanism by which lycopene decreases growth of prostate cancers.

Lactobacillus Sporogenes
Lactobacillus sporogenes is a naturally occurring bacteria that supports a healthy intestinal environment by re-establishing the "good"” flora in the gastrointestinal tract and preventing the overgrowth of pathogenic bacteria. We know that people who consume yogurt with a good source of lactobacillus bacteria have a lower risk of developing breast cancer. Additionally, lactobacillus has been shown to reduce the reabsorption of estrogens and has an antiproliferative effect on cancer cells.

Convolvulus Arvensis
Convolvulus arvensis extract is the source of a group of proteoglycan molecules that have been shown to inhibit angiogenesis, the process used by tumors to promote the growth of new blood vessels necessary for tumor growth. In animal models, Convolvulus arvensis extracts have been shown to halt tumor growth, and, in higher concentrations, cause a significant reduction in tumor size. In some animal studies, the extract completely eradicated the tumors. Human studies are currently underway.

Maitake D-Fraction
Patients with prostate and breast cancers may benefit from D-Fraction, an extract from the Maitake mushroom rich in beta 1,3 and 1,6 glucan. D-Fraction has been shown to activate the immune system to kill cancer cells without harming healthy cells. It also activates cytotoxic T-cells that mark cancer cells for destruction, as well as the natural killer cells that actively seek out and destroy tumor cells. D-Fraction also increases the production of interleukin-1 and induces apoptosis of cancer cells.

Another important property of D-fraction is that, if given concomitantly with either chemotherapy or radiation therapy, it enhances the effectiveness of these treatments while also reducing their unpleasant side effects. It does this without reducing or hampering the effectiveness of either therapy.

The above ingredients have been shown to benefit both prostate and breast cancer patients. Other ingredients, Dr. Friedrich Douwes and I noted during our collaboration, offer more selective benefits in either prostate or breast cancer. Natural compounds known to inhibit or prevent prostate cancer include:

Zinc has been shown to inhibit prostate tumor cell invasion and metastasis while inducing apoptosis in prostate cancer cells.

This phytosterol inhibits the growth of prostate cancer cells, decreases cancer cell number and induces apoptosis. Animal studies support the use of beta-sitosterol in inhibiting prostate cancer growth. Epidemiological studies suggest beta-sitosterol is preventive for prostate cancer.

Pygeum Africanum & Saw Palmetto
Pygeum Africanum is very effective for the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia, working by reducing prostate cell proliferation and inhibiting growth factors responsible for prostate overgrowth. Pygeum works well with saw palmetto, another plant compound effective for the treatment of human benign prostatic hyperplasia. Saw Palmetto also induces apoptosis and necrosis in human prostate cancer cells, while inhibiting cancer cell invasion (metastases).

Stinging Nettle
Stinging nettle is very effective for the treatment of human benign prostatic hyperplasia. Stinging nettle works by reducing prostatic cell proliferation and inhibiting growth factors responsible for prostate overgrowth. Stinging nettle acts synergistically when combined with Pygeum africanum.

Other natural compounds have been known to inhibit or prevent breast cancer. These include:

Shiitake Mushroom
Shiitake is a Chinese herb used in Japan as a powerful anticancer treatment. In addition to stimulating and enhancing the responsiveness of the immune system, shiitake also has been found to shrink tumors and prevent the spread of cancers. Shiitake is also synergistic with other chemotherapeutic drugs and has been found to prevent the recurrence of breast cancer after surgery. Shiitake has been shown to significantly prolong the lifespan of patients with breast and other cancers.

This unique compound contains an active ingredient known as perillyl alcohol that inhibits the growth and cell cycle progression of breast cancer cells. A Phase 1 study demonstrated its safety. It has induced tumor cell apoptosis, activated Phase 2 carcinogen metabolizing enzymes, initiated tumor cell redifferentiation to a more benign phenotype, and inhibited cell growth regulating proteins.

DIM (diindolylmethane)
DIM is the active plant compound in Indole-3-carbinol (I3C), a component of cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli. I3C has been shown in both Phase 1 and Phase 2 human studies to be effective in inhibiting breast cancer growth in both estrogen positive and negative breast cancer cells. DIM has been shown to be the active compound in I3C.

DIM is synergistic with chemotherapeutic agents such as tamoxifen. As a preventive supplement, DIM has been shown to lower breast cancer risks by reducing levels of 16-alpha-hydroxyestrone (a biological marker for breast cancer risk) while improving the ratio of 16-alpha-hydroxyestrone to 2-hydroxyestrone. By improving this ratio, DIM is effectively lowering the amount of "bad" estrogen relative to the "good" estrogen. Additionally, DIM: 1) Modifies cytochrome p450 enzyme activity to support detoxification of carcinogens; 2) Induces apoptosis of breast cancer cells; and 3) May stimulate progesterone production.

Green Tea & Grape Seed Extracts
Both of these compounds are powerful antioxidants that help to induce cell death in breast cancer cells. In addition, green tea includes the active ingredient epigallocatechin gallate, which has been shown in human studies to inhibit human breast cancer cell proliferation, reduce tumor invasion and metastasis and prevent recurrence of breast cancer in early stage cases (stage I and II).

In examining the research, Dr. Douwes has found that the above nutrients are safely combined with traditional anticancer therapies. By using these nutrients, cancer patients can feel confident in complying with their oncologists'recommendations while incorporating nutritional therapy into their treatment regimens.

Dr. Shari Lieberman is a noted researcher, scientist, author, and highly sought-after speaker at anti-aging conferences the world over. For more information about her breast and prostate cancer formulas, contact Vitamin Research Products, 1-800-877-2447.


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