Herbs & Cancer
If you have breast cancer or have had breast cancer, there is no data to start taking Cod Liver Oil. Both Cod Liver Oil and its Vitamin D are linked to breast cancer prevention. Research now shows that breast cancer is directly linked to your Vitamin D levels. There are many forms of Vitamin D. I usually recommend Vitamin D drops by Biotics. Each drop is equivalent to 2,000 mg. I generally suggest 3-4 drops/day, which equals 6,000 to 8,000 per day. Sometimes I also use Natural Frontiers Omega 3 with Vitamin D (Both are available at www.longevitynutritionals.com). Some prefer Blue Ice TM Fermented Cod Liver Oil.
If you are a breast cancer survivor or at high risk with a first degree relative with breast cancer, then you should have your estrogen levels checked by a healthcare practitioner. If you have a higher estrogen level, then you are at risk. Want to reduce your risk? Do not eat SOY (which is estrogenic) but instead have lots and lots of cruciferous vegetables. You need these greens, which have a high ORAC value.
Part of the Mint Family Lamaceae or Labiatae, Prunella vulgaris has antioxidant properties. The two antioxidants found are rutin and quercitin. It is good for eruptive skin problems. Prunella vulgaris, known as common selfheal, heal-all and heart-of-the-earth, is a medicinal plant in the genus Prunella. It grows from 1 to 2 feet high with creeping, self-rooting, tough, square, reddish stems branching at leaf axis. The leaves are lance-shaped, serrated and reddish at the tip and about an inch long and 1/2 inch broad. They grow on short stalks in opposite pairs down the square stem. The flowers grow from a club-like, somewhat square whirled cluster. Immediately below this club are a pair of stalkless leaves standing out on either side like a collar. Flowers are two lipped and tubular: the top lip is a purple hood and the bottom lip is often white. It has three lobes with the middle lobe being larger and fringed upwardly. Flowers bloom at different times depending on climate and other conditions, mostly from June to August. For medicinal purposes, the whole plant is gathered when the flowers bloom and dried. The leaves and small flowers of heal-all are edible.
When I was working with Robert Atkins, MD, he was treating prostate cancer with a compound called PC-SPES. This was naturally before the hormonal manipulation by injectables. PC-SPES contains 8 different herbs that have shown some positive benefits. The ingredients are reishi mushroom, Rabdosia rubescens, skullcap, Licorice, Chrysanthemum, Isaditis and Saw palmetto.
Saw palmetto extract is an extract of the fruit of Serenoa repens. It is rich in fatty acids and phytosterols. It has been used in traditional, eclectic and alternative medicine for a variety of indications, most notably benign prostatic hyperplasia. Serenoa repens, commonly known as saw palmetto, is the sole species currently classified in the genus Serenoa. It has been known by a number of synonyms, including Sabal serrulatum, under which name it still often appears in alternative medicine. It is a small palm, normally reaching a height of around 2–4 m (3–6 ft). Historically, the American Indians used saw palmetto berries for the treatment of urinary tract infections and as a tonic to support the body. Some herbalists consider saw palmetto as an aphrodisiac. Today, there are double blind studies to show the efficacy of saw palmetto in the treatment of Benign Prostatic Hypertrophy. Some of these studies are double blind with a conventional drug for BPH called Proscar. There are not many studies to support its use in Prostate Cancer. All the studies for saw palmetto for BPH and its urinary symptoms were efficacious. Saw palmetto is a fan palm, with the leaves that have a bare petiole terminating in a rounded fan of about 20 leaflets.
Re: The Controversial Benefits and Risks of Antioxidant Use during Cancer Treatment
Ladas E, Kelly KM. The antioxidant debate. Explore. March-April 2010.
There is a vigorous debate in oncology over the use of antioxidants concomitantly with chemotherapy and/or radiation. Estimates of patients who use antioxidants to enhance anti-cancer activity of conventional therapy or to minimize adverse side effects range from 13%-87%, yet there is little information on effects of such supplementation and an apparently significant potential for harm in some situations, according to the authors.One issue is that some types of chemotherapy (e.g., anthracyclines, platinum-containing complexes, and alkylating agents), as well as radiation therapy, exert anti-cancer effects at least in part through generation of free radicals, intended to attack cancer cells. If antioxidants protect cancerous cells as well as normal ones from free radicals, they could reduce treatment efficacy.
On the other hand, antioxidants have many different mechanisms of action which may result in varying risks. Similarly, not all chemotherapy agents rely on free radicals, thus may be less susceptible to antioxidant interference. Plasmaantioxidant levels are lowered in both chemotherapy and radiation therapy and in conditioning regimens prior to stem cell transplants. Some studies suggest that an antioxidant-poor diet underlies many diseases, including cancer. Adjunctively, antioxidants may protect normal cells and allow lower doses of chemotherapy drugs to be used. Antioxidants used properly during cancer treatment may themselves exert anti-cancer effects, as well as mitigate unwanted side effects.
Of the two main types of antioxidants, enzymatic and non-enzymatic, most non-enzymatic compounds are obtained orally. Normal dietary levels of antioxidants should not interfere with cancer therapy. Bioavailability of antioxidants varies with source, mode of administration, and form. Genetic variation in humans also complicates studies of antioxidant use during cancer therapy, as well as the success of free radical-reliant therapies.
Few clinical trials have addressed antioxidants as anti-cancer agents. A systematic review found six studies of antioxidants’ effect on cancer reoccurrence and survival rates. Two reported a survival benefit with antioxidant use; one reported short-term, but no long-term, benefit. Three found no benefit. Of single antioxidant supplements studied, oral vitamin C produced no survival benefit in two double-blinded, randomized, placebo-controlled trials (RCTs); however, more recent studies found that levels toxic to some cancer cell lines can be achieved with intravenous vitamin C. Adjunctively, intravenous vitamin C was found useful in a phase II study of relapsed or refractory multiple myeloma. Melatonin, an endogenous antioxidant hormone, stimulates apoptosis, reduces tumor growth factors and endothelial growth factor, and is anti-inflammatory. A systematic review suggests that melatonin may improve survival in solid tumor cases. Adjunctively, adding melatonin to interferon in 22 patients with progressive metastatic renal cell carcinoma was associated with remission in seven and stable disease in nine more. Positive results were also seen when melatonin was added to irinotecan in patients with metastatic colorectal cancer.
Combinations of antioxidants have been examined in some studies. While no RCTs have reported significant benefits to date from any combination, a study is underway in women with advanced epithelial ovarian cancer, using vitamin C, vitamin E, β-carotene, and vitamin A, exploring reports of prolonged remission with this combination.
Several studies, but few RCTs, have examined use of antioxidants for supportive care. Cachexia is often seen in cancer treatment, associated with depleted intracellular glutathione (GSH) and increased oxidative stress. Supplementation with a GSH-repleting agent or precursor, or with antioxidants, may prevent or relieve this cancer-related wasting condition. Cardiomyopathy, neurotoxicity, and ototoxicity leading to hearing loss are adverse side effects of particular chemotherapies that may be alleviated with antioxidant supplementation; however, studies so far are inconclusive. In women being treated for ovarian cancer, antioxidant supplementation produced higher neutrophil counts and fewer adverse side effects. Vitamins C and E improved plasma lipid and lipoprotein levels in women with resectable breast cancer.
There are now a few antioxidant pharmaceuticals specifically protective against chemotherapeutic damage. These agents benefit from the evidence of preclinical studies and clinical trials that have not yet been performed on most antioxidant supplements.
Even in radiation, which produces its anti-cancer effects largely by generating free radicals, antioxidants may play a positive role. Small trials have examined supplementation to prevent proctitis, tissue induration, and mucositis associated with radiation, with mixed, but encouraging, results. In female childhood cancer survivors who had received pelvic radiation, supplementation reduced fibroatrophic uterine lesions. A survival benefit was found with vitamin E and pentoxifylline supplementation in patients with stage IIIB non-small cell lung cancer. However, in a large study of head and neck cancer patients receiving radiation, supplementation with vitamin E and β-carotene was associated with less severe acute adverse side effects, but increased risk of lung cancer, leading to the early discontinuation of β-carotene.
The authors conclude that the combination of vitamin E and β-carotene should not be used with radiation therapy, and that antioxidants should be used only with caution with chemotherapy, pending additional research. They critique the lack of cohesion or comparability of studies so far and suggest a focused antioxidant-cancer treatment research agenda.