Despite the fact that more Canadians die of heart disease, cancer is the disease most people fear.
Cancer is not a single disease, but a word used to describe a process. Cancer is the uncontrolled growth of mutated cells which group together to form a tumour. Metastasis occurs when some of these cells break away and begin to grow elsewhere. It’s likely that most of us have a few mutated cells in our bodies at any given moment, which our immune systems are able to seek out and destroy. In cancer however, the mutation and growth of abnormal cells outstrip the immune system’s ability to eliminate them. Exactly what causes normal cells to mutate into cancer cells is not known by researchers and there is not likely a single cause.
There is evidence that mutations occur due to faulty genes, viruses, carcinogenic chemicals and oxidative damage. We may not know exactly how one individual develops cancer, but we do know a lot about what increases the risk. Poor dietary habits, for example, contribute to approximately one third of all cancers in North America and cancer will kill 50 percent of all smokers. (Would you play Russian roulette with a half-loaded gun?)
An Ounce of Prevention
To decrease your risk of developing cancer, adopt a nutritious, organic diet, specific for you; maintain an ideal body weight; avoid tobacco, alcohol and coffee; exercise frequently; drink plenty of pure water; express your feelings in healthy ways; avoid known carcinogens; avoid excessive sunlight; avoid hormonal therapies; and do what you can to lessen environmental pollution. It’s always better to focus on preventing a problem than treating it.
Of course cancer is much easier to treat in its early stages. Early detection also gives you the freedom to choose less harmful forms of treatment, with better chances of success. Don’t ignore suspicious lumps, pain, skin lesions or unexpected changes in digestion, bowel or bladder habits. Have a yearly cervical smear, routine prostate exams and do monthly self examinations of your breasts or testicles.
If you do develop cancer, don’t panic. Take some time to learn about all possible forms of treatment. Discuss treatment options with your oncologist, alternative practitioners and cancer survivors. Read and search the Internet for information. For every type of cancer, there is someone who has been cured of it. The first step in treatment is knowing that cancer is not a death sentence. You can be cured.
A treatment plan that covers many angles gives you the best chance of success. Whether you choose to do alternative or complementary therapy, there are some basic guidelines everyone should follow. Always remember that whatever type of treatment you choose, it’s always your choice. People who take charge of their own health and feel in control, have higher survival rates than those who just do what they are told.
Detoxify Your System
It’s important that you detoxify. A good detox program will lessen the toxic burden on the body and allow the immune and elimination systems to work more effectively.
First ensure your bowels are working properly. You should be having at least one regular bowel movement a day. If not, have one to two tablespoons of psyllium or ground flax seeds each day. Six to 12 glasses of pure water a day are also essential.
The liver removes toxins from the body. There are many herbs and vitamins that help the liver do its job. The ones I most commonly use are dandelion root, Oregon grape root and yellow dock, decocted, two to three cups per day. Burdock root and red clover are two herbs that “cleanse the blood.” Two to three cups a day of these herbs is also helpful. Essiac tea and the Hoxsey Formula are well known herbal formulas that contain some of these herbs. Essiac tea is available at your health food store and Hoxsey formula can be custom blended for you by your naturopathic physician or master herbalist.
Other things that help the body detox include deep breathing, dry skin brushing, colonics, saunas, Epsom bath salts and castor oil packs. Do two or three of these each day. To make a castor oil pack, soak a white, cotton rag in castor oil, place over the abdomen, ensuring that you cover your liver, cover with a piece of plastic and place a hot water bottle over top. Do for 20 to 30 minutes each day. This old hydrotherapy treatment stimulates bile release in the liver and is very relaxing.
Food Is Medicine
Every cancer patient benefits from basic dietary changes. If you can only do one thing, this should be it and if you can only make one dietary change, the most important is to eliminate all sugar and sweets. Cancer cells thrive on a high sugar diet. The lower your sugar intake the better. This means eliminating all obvious sugar and sweets including jams, fruit juices, everything made from white flour and yes, even maple syrup and honey.
Your diet should include whole grains, lots of vegetables, fruit and protein. Many cancer patients die of malnutrition and wasting. Good quality protein will help prevent this and maintain low blood sugar. Your best choices are legumes, nuts, seeds, eggs, fish and small amounts of lean (organic or wild) meat. Freshly pressed organic oils and butter may be used in modest amounts. All food, but particularly animal products, must be organic. Fish oils (be sure they are certified as free of environmental toxins) have been shown to help prevent metastasis and will help with fat cravings. Dairy products (except a little organic butter) should be avoided. Obviously you must avoid all artificial foods, junk foods and food additives.
When choosing supplements remember that each person’s needs are different depending on overall health and the stage and type of cancer. Consult your health care practitioner for a complete program that would most benefit you.
Antioxidants are inexpensive, readily available, will not interfere with other forms of treatment and may even enhance the effectiveness of chemotherapy and radiation if you choose to do these. Buffered vitamin C should be taken daily for bowel tolerance. Beta-carotene, up to 60,000iu/day for a couple months, is essential for immune function and growth and reproduction of normal cells. Vitamin E 800 to 1,200iu/day protects against oxidative and free radical damage. Fractionated pectin 450 mg, two to four caps per day, has been shown to prevent metastasis. It’s essential before and after any type of surgery, including biopsy.
Supplements are not the only thing you need however. Laughter, prayer, meditation, relaxation, counselling or a support group and enjoying each day will also help you win the battle against cancer.