7 Cancer Fighters That Really Work
A pill that can prevent cancer? Not long ago it would have seemed far-fetched, but now we actually do have drugs that hold back cancer risk…. but before we start celebrating, it’s important to know the details. For example, while the drug finasteridecan reduce the risk for prostate cancer, its potential side effects include impotence and loss of libido. Tamoxifen can lower certain breast cancer risks — but it, too, comes with serious potential problems, including an increased likelihood of developing uterine cancer, blood clots, cataracts and stroke. Deciding whether or not to take such drugs is difficult, to say the least, and the issues are not the same for everyone.
Based on your individual and family health history, the risk/benefit equation for anticancer drugs may work out differently — this is something you can discuss with your doctor. But here is the really good news: There are safe, natural substances that help prevent cancer — not 100%, but enough to make a big difference for many people. To explore them, I turned to Mark A. Stengler, ND, a leading authority on the practice of alternative and integrative medicine and author of The Natural Physician’s Healing Therapies. Here is what Dr. Stengler suggests his patients take to prevent — or slow the progression of — cancer…
Vitamin D.Dr. Stengler told me that if he had to choose just one supplement to fight cancer, it would be vitamin D-3. Not only is it a potent immunity booster and inflammation fighter, it’s also critical for the support of normal cell division. Vitamin D is most notably helpful for breast, colorectal and prostate cancers.
What to do:Get your blood level of vitamin D tested and aim to achieve at least a mid-range level. For many patients, Dr. Stengler prescribes 2,000 IU daily to be taken with a meal.
Fish oil. Dr. Stengler often prescribes fish oil for patients who are fighting cancer. Two omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil — EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) — support the immune system and block the production of cancer-promoting hormones. Studies also demonstrate that fish oil helps fight wasting symptoms, including weight and muscle loss, in cancer patients.
What Dr. Stengler does:Dr. Stengler typically prescribes one gram per day in total of EPA and DHA… or directs patients to eat two to three weekly servings of cold-water fish such as salmon, herring or sardines.
Glucosinolate.Dr. Stengler pointed to research from Johns Hopkins identifying glucosinolate, an extract from broccoli and broccoli sprouts, as a powerful detoxifier and antioxidant. It works by blocking the action of free radicals, which are activated oxygen molecules that damage cells and precipitate cancer. While eating cruciferous vegetables of all kinds, including broccoli, bok choy, cabbage, kale, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts, is a smart dietary strategy, taking glucosinolate as a supplement adds further protection.
Dr. Stengler’s approach: He often prescribes BroccoMax, made by Jarrow (800-726-0886, www.Jarrow.com). A typical dose is one or two 250-mg capsules per day.
Kitchen Cures: Foods that Fight Cancer
Tomatoes.Research demonstrates that men who follow a diet high in the antioxidant compound lycopene have lower rates of prostate cancer — and it is an important cancer fighter for women, too. Tomatoes are the most concentrated food source of lycopene, and cooked tomato products, such as tomato sauce and paste, are even better ways to get lycopene than raw tomatoes. Other good food sources of lycopene include apricots, guava, watermelon, papaya and pink grapefruit.
Dr. Stengler says:A daily dose of 5 mg to 10 mg of a lycopene supplement can help protect against prostate cancer — and for women, against breast and cervical cancers. If you are eating lycopene-rich vegetables and fruits, you’ll get better nutrient absorption by combining them with a small amount of oil or fat (such as olive oil in pasta sauce or on salad).
Mushrooms. Author of The Health Benefits of Medicinal Mushrooms, Dr. Stengler is a strong believer in mushrooms for cancer prevention. He recommends mushroom extracts such as Grifola frondosa (Maitake), Lentinula edodes (Shiitake) and Coriolus versicolor(Yun zhi, or “Turkey Tail”). Published research says that these mushrooms have the potential to improve the concentration and activity of immune markers that are implicated in cancer, including natural killer cells, tumor necrosis factor (which causes the death of cancer cells), T-helper cells and a variety of interleukins.
What Dr. Stengler does for his patients:For prevention, he suggests taking 25 mg to 50 mg of maitake gold extract (available from various companies) daily… while he often directs patients with cancer to eat one-quarter cup of mushrooms two or three times per week, emphasizing the varieties named above.
Turmeric.Evidence suggests that this bright yellow antioxidant, which can be used on its own as a spice and is also an ingredient of Asian curry powder, helps suppress breast, colon and skin cancer. Curcumin, an active compound of turmeric, is anti-inflammatory and helps prevent new blood vessel growth (angiogenesis) associated with cancer tumors. Up to 3 grams per day of turmeric is considered safe.
How Dr. Stengler uses it:Dr. Stengler typically directs cancer patients to take turmeric in capsule form up to three times daily. He adds that for prevention purposes, it’s great to use turmeric frequently in your cooking.
Green tea.In a meta-analysis of studies examining tea and lung cancer risk, investigators found that increasing green tea consumption by just two cups a day was associated with an 18% decreased risk for lung cancer. Green tea contains powerful antioxidant polyphenols that appear to kill off cancer cells. Other research suggests that green tea may stave off cancers of the skin, esophagus, stomach, colon, pancreas, bladder, prostate and breast.
Dr. Stengler advises:Drink two cups of green tea daily (or more, if you are a smoker).
The list goes on…
Other potentially beneficial supplements include vitamin C, vitamin K, panax ginseng and folate. Dr. Stengler said that all these remedies have a long track record for safety and effectiveness and can improve your resistance to cancer… enhance your natural defense mechanisms if you already have cancer… and help minimize side effects of conventional cancer therapies.
Of course, before deciding on any anticancer strategy — whether screening, prevention or treatment, and including natural ones — carefully discuss the risks and benefits with your physician so that you can make an informed decision about whether or not it is right for you and to be certain that there are no negative interactions with other medications.