Dr. Kenneth R. Pelletier - The Best Alternative Medicine

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Cancer: CAM Therapies for Specific Conditions

  • A study conducted by Dr. David Spiegel of the Stanford University School of Medicine documented that hypnotherapy, in conjunction with social support, doubled survival time for metastatic breast cancer patients.

  • One study evaluated the use of hypnotic imagery with twenty-five breast cancer patients. Following this intervention, measures of depression and confusion were reduced, positive states were increased, and the percentage of natural killer cells in the blood was significantly increased.

  • Imagery has been used in the adjunctive care of cancer patients. Patients were encouraged to imagine their immune system cells engulfing and devouring vulnerable cancer cells. Many patients have found it helpful.

  • A study examined relaxation combined with imagery to affect immune system function, with potential applications in the treatment of cancer.

  • Benefits of imagery and social support were evaluated in a study of women with breast cancer. It was found that imagery and support groups had a small to modest positive effect on coping, attitudes, and support, but not on immune function. In a classic study, a seventeen-year prospective follow-up disclosed that, among women, social isolation was a risk factor for the onset and progression of cancer.

  • Qi Gong exercise has been studied in China for its impact on cancer. Numerous papers have been presented at international conferences over twenty years. However, scientific literature is very limited in the United States.

  • During a study, ninety-three patients with advanced cancer were treated with a combination of drugs and Qi Gong exercises, while a control group was treated with drugs alone. Eighty-one percent of the Qi Gong group showed an improvement in strength, 63 percent in appetite, and 33 percent were free from diarrhea compared to improvements of 10 percent, 10 percent, and 6 percent, respectively, in the other group.

  • Hospitals and HMOs are increasingly including MindBody components in their managed care programs, including psychosocial support groups for cancer patients.

  • Water-insoluble fibers (celluloses and hemicelluloses) protect against colon cancer by absorbing water, increasing stool volume, and speeding the passage of stool through the bowel. They also dilute the concentration of toxic bile acids, which can contribute to cancer.

  • To protect against heart disease or cancer, dosage levels of vitamin E may need to be twenty to thirty times greater than the RDAs.

  • According to a study, low blood levels of carotenoids (nutritious red pigments found in fruits and vegetables) are associated with cancer and coronary disease.

  • Carotenoid lycopene is ten times more potent than beta-carotene as an antioxidant, and apparently lowers rates of prostate cancer.

  • Studies suggest that the nutrient coenzyme Q10 might be useful in protecting against breast cancer.

  • Coenzyme Q10's antioxidant activity has led to suggestions that it might be beneficial in the treatment of cancer. In a study, none of the patients in the supplemented group died, contrary to the predicted or expected mortality. However, because a number of antioxidants were used, the results cannot be attributed to Q10 alone.

  • Claims for the hormone DHEA include that it combats some cancers. More than ten thousand scientific papers have been written about DHEA, and two international conferences have been held on DHEA research.

  • Research has shown that low DHEA levels in the blood are associated with breast cancer.

  • It has been claimed that the hormone melatonin is a powerful antioxidant that may reduce the risk of cancer, although that remains unproven.

  • In a study, thirty patients with brain tumors received either radiation therapy alone, or radiation plus melatonin. Survival was higher in patients receiving the melatonin. Side effects of cancer immunotherapy, such as nausea from chemotherapy and radiation, were reduced with melatonin. In another study of patients with gastrointestinal cancer, immune functioning after surgery was improved by melatonin and immunotherapy.

  • Used in conjunction with Western medicine, traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) herbal preparations are now a popular approach for addressing certain troublesome diseases, particularly cancer.

  • Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) has no treatments that are used solely for cancer, but offers many formulas that help with various symptoms of cancer. Approximately 120 species of Chinese herbs are used to adjunctively treat cancer.

  • Acupuncture is a very popular complementary therapy for cancer.

  • In cancer therapy, acupuncture can help control nausea and other side effects of chemotherapy and radiation.

  • Herbs, particularly green tea, are extensively used in the prevention of cancer.

  • Naturopaths often work with allopaths, traditional Western doctors, in treating cancer. Green tea capsules may be taken in dosages of 100 mg to 300 mg daily. Green tea may be consumed as often as you like.

  • Effects of naturopathic treatment of cancer appear to be promising.

  • Ayurvedic traditional Indian medicine offers treatment for some forms of cancer.

  • For years, researchers have attempted to document the impact of spirituality and religion on health. In recent studies, religious participation was found to prolong the lives of patients with cancer.

  • Preliminary data from an ongoing study suggest that enhanced spiritual well-being may help women cope with and even survive breast cancer.

  • Practicing Mormons develop fewer cases of cancer, cope better with the cancer they have, and experience better outcomes than Mormons who are less religious.

  • A study of 3,217 Seventh-Day Adventists in the Netherlands concluded that Adventist men live 8.9 years longer than the national norm, Adventist women live 3.6 years longer, and they have a 60 percent lower mortality rate from cancer.

  • Support groups have been demonstrated to have a very positive effect with cancer patients, and may extend life expectancy).

  • Pets contribute to positive treatment of cancer as well as having a positive impact on a wide range of physical and mental disorders, especially with children and the elderly.

  • A noted biofeedback researcher conducted a study of the application of bioenergetic therapy for the treatment of basal cell carcinoma. Biofeedback is a training technique that claims to improve a person's control over autonomic body functions. He found that four of ten patients showed elimination or reduction of their tumors.


Caution: Beta-carotene, as a supplement, may present health hazards for certain individuals.

Caution: A study indicated a 28 percent increase in lung cancer in smokers, ex-smokers and asbestos workers taking beta-carotene.

Caution: Chronic ingestion of 5,000 mcg a day of the mineral selenium has been reported to result in fingernail changes, hair loss, nausea, abdominal pain, diarrhea, nerve problems, fatigue, and irritability. Because vitamin E enhances the effects of selenium, it may increase this possible toxicity.

Caution: In a study, the steroid hormone DHEA was found to produce liver cancer in fourteen of sixteen rats. While this does not necessarily mean it would produce cancer in humans, if such a response were to occur in human research, DHEA would probably be banned by the FDA. DHEA is a hormone, and replacing any hormone that declines normally with aging must be carefully researched. DHEA levels in the blood are associated with increased body mass and impaired glucose tolerance. Serum levels of steroids should be monitored medically while taking DHEA supplements. Most important, there are a number of truly natural, completely safe ways to increase DHEA: stop smoking, reduce stress, exercise three to five times per week, take vitamin C, be sure your magnesium intake is adequate, and occasionally use Siberian ginseng (take 12-16 ml of fluid extract or 100-200 mg of standardized extract, one to three times per day).


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Copyright © 2000 by Dr. Kenneth R. Pelletier, Inc.
Reprinted by permission of Simon & Schuster, Inc., New York, New York.

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