Mainstream Medicine Discovers What
Alternative Doctors have Known for Decades
June 23rd, 2013 by Holly Cornish
Alternative medicine has focused on the power of the immune system and immune-boosting treatments for years. Right here in this newsletter, we cover the many natural remedies known to strengthen the immune system—lactoferrin and colostrum come to mind as two of the most powerful, not to mention a whole slew of mushroom remedies.
So it’s hard to know whether to laugh or cry when we hear that mainstream medicine has discovered a powerful new tool for fighting cancer: the immune system. Hey, better late than never! At least they’re now focusing their massive research budgets in the right direction. With luck, the new drugs they’re developing could lead to a revolution in conventional cancer treatment.
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In their quest to beat cancer, heavy-hitters like Bristol-Myers Squibb and Merck & Co. are now focusing on experimental drugs that work with the human immune system (instead of against it, the way chemotherapy does). The results so far look very promising.
Money is at the heart of it, of course, and investors are closely watching the progress of these drug tests. There’s a chance we’re going to see real results from these pharmaceutical treatments, and soon.
At the very least, these new drugs may extend the length of time cancer patients stay in remission. And with luck they may add years to a patient’s life — or even lead to an outright cure for some types of cancer. But research on that won’t be available for another year.
Equally exciting is that the new approach hints at a way to keep metastatic cancer under control for long periods of time, as opposed to jumping from one chemo drug to another as a tumor develops resistance. It turns out you don’t need a succession of different chemo drugs to chase after shape-shifting cancer cells. You just need a strong immune system—exactly what cancer advocates like myself, Bill Henderson and Ty Bollinger have been saying for years.
That’s because immunotherapy drugs (or better yet, natural immune boosters) allow a patient’s immune system to keep up with mutations in a tumor. Early results of the new drugs suggest that patients given as few as nine months to live could survive for several years.
These new therapies could potentially bring in billions of dollars for the pharmaceutical companies promoting them. Really, it’s the first innovative method for attacking cancer in a decade that’s come out of Big Pharma. So much research in recent years has gone toward treating uncontrolled cell growth and genetic processes that little progress was made for treating advanced tumors.
They see dollars, and lots of ’em. . .
Bristol-Myers is developing a new immune-boosting cancer drug candidate called nivolumab. If it works for lung cancer, as they hope, it could bring in sales close to the recent drug Avastin: $5.8 billion in sales just last year. Made by Roche, Avastin is used to fight colon cancer and other tumors.
The concept behind drugs that strengthen the immune system is this: The immune system is able to respond to changes in the body’s enemies. Get the immune system to adapt to fighting any dangerous malignancy, and you’ll give mutating cancer cells a fair fight. The immune cells are able to change right along with the cancer cells. The new immunotherapy drugs target the immune system’s T-cells, well known as our body’s key defenders against germs and infections.
T-cells have something akin to an off-switch, called PD-1. These new immune-boosting drugs essentially prevent this switch from ever going off. This makes it more likely for T-cells to recognize and attack invading tumors as dangerous. Prior to this, tumors were able to fly under the T-cell radar and weren’t immediately recognized as a risk.
But—and this is the most important point of all—many experts feel this new revolution in drug design will bring about a paradigm shift for fighting cancer. That is to say, it’s a paradigm shift for mainstream medicine. Alternative therapies have focused on the immune system for decades.
Merck’s senior vice president Gary Gilliland stated immune therapy was the key to finally eradicating tumors. “We are pretty good at shrinking tumors,” he said in an interview, “but not good at getting rid of them.” This could be the key.
The results are astounding
Bristol-Myers did something similar two years ago with a drug called Yervoy, tested on patients suffering from advanced, late-stage melanoma. Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer, and indeed one of the deadliest of all cancers.
Yervoy doubled the number of patients surviving four years after their diagnosis to 19 percent. This success is what brought the idea of immunotherapy to light in conventional care. Now you might say immunotherapy has officially been accepted into mainstream medicine.
A Merck drug, Lambrolizumab, shrank tumors in 38 percent of advanced melanoma patients, with even better results at the highest doses: a 52 percent tumor shrinkage.
These immunotherapy drugs have shown such promising results early on that some doctors are speculating that patients with melanoma could be cured. Not just in remission — cured.
Nivolumab, the drug in development by Bristol-Myers, is in final-stage trials for patients with lung cancer, kidney tumors, and melanoma. So far, nivolumab has been shown to shrink tumors for between 18 and 28 percent of patients who didn’t respond to other treatments.
And for 53 patients given a combination dose of nivolumab and Yervoy, 82 percent were alive after a year, which was a better rate than seen with Yervoy alone.
The race is on for big drug companies to get their hands on a piece of this pie. Right now, at least six other companies are pursuing tests of immune therapy drugs for patients facing advanced cancer.
Much is yet to be discovered, including side effects. Both Bristol-Myers and Merck drug tests showed potential inflammation of the lung as a side effect, among other complications.
Let’s wait and see
Isn’t it nice that mainstream medicine has finally recognized the immune system as a reliable cancer-fighting strategy? And the field is quickly getting crowded. These PD-1-targeting, tumor-shrinking drugs aren’t the only approaches to bolstering the immune system that are being studied right now. Amgen Inc. is testing an anti-cancer virus therapy. Because antibodies and viruses target the immune system in different ways, it’s believed an anti-cancer virus approach may produce a synergistic effect when combined with other treatments like the ones being developed at Merck and Bristol-Myers.
I think they’re on to something. They do, too — Merck senior vice president Gary Gilliland told reporters they have their best people and best teams working on this angle for treatment.
The thing to remember, at the heart of this, is the power of the human immune system. Stimulating it leads to great things. Personally, I’d rather stimulate it naturally, with supplements and dietary approaches that don’t prompt dramatic, unknown side effect. Refer to our archives for information on the many ways you can boost your immune system naturally, using proven approaches such as chlorella and spirulina supplements, bovine colostrum, and even good old-fashioned exercise. There’s so much material on this subject, it’s hard to know where to begin, but I suggest you check out Issue #5, Issue #139, Issue #177, Issue #208 and Issue #220.
Last week I covered one of the best foods you can eat to fight cancer (I eat it almost every day myself). If you missed the article, you can read it now below.
Can one tiny seed put the
brakes on cancer?
Not just any seed, mind you…
But scientists believe flaxseed may pack a powerful punch to knock out estrogen-dependent cancers including breast and prostate cancer.
A literature review by the American Institute for Cancer Research found that just a few tablespoons of ground flaxseeds daily can alter estrogen levels in a way that may protect you from this deadly disease. That modest dose was enough to reduce tumor formation.
I eat ground flaxseeds myself. Keep reading and you’ll see why. . .
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Specifically, the compound called lignans—a phytoestrogen found in flax, wheat and vegetables—seems to provide some top-notch cancer protection.
And according to a 2011 study in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, boosting lignan intake may improve survival rates in postmenopausal women who’ve had breast cancer.
A research team from the German Cancer Research Center in Heidelberg said this could be because lignans are about the same shape as those estrogens in the body that are associated with a higher risk of breast cancer.
Their shape enables lignans to bind up estrogen receptors—which blocks stronger forms of estrogens from doing so. It’s as if lignans take up all the available seats in a theater, and there’s nowhere for estrogens to sit.
Some types of cancer cells need estrogen in order to multiply and form tumors. Because lignan prevents these hormones from binding to estrogen receptors, cancer cells can’t grow.
Lead researcher Jenny Chang-Claude said that the study provided “clear evidence showing that lignans lower not only the risk of developing postmenopausal breast cancer, but also the mortality risk.”
More of the lowdown on lignan…
Lignans, isoflavones and coumestans are the three major classes of compounds that are collectively known as phytoestrogens.
These compounds are known to play a role in everything from keeping your arteries healthy and your brain sharp to sexual maturation and reproduction.
The two lignans that play the largest role in keeping humans healthy are called enterodiol and enterolactone.
These “mammalian lignans” form when gut bacteria interact with lignans in the foods you eat.
But there’s another lignan called podophyllotoxin, that is so effective at targeting and destroying cancer cells—the medical establishment has even modified it for use in chemotherapy.
And that’s not all. Podophyllotoxin’s semi-synthetic derivatives—etoposide, teniposide, and etoposide phosphate—are used regularly to battle deadly lung cancer.
Scores of studies showcase lignans’ promising performance!
Scientists have produced some impressive study results that demonstrate the beneficial health results of a diet rich in flaxseed lignans.
Consider just a few examples:
- Flax seed curbs hot flashes!—a pilot study conducted by Sandhya Pruthi, M.D., of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota found that 28 women who consumed four tablespoons of ground flaxseed daily for six weeks experienced a decrease in hot flashes, from 7.3 to 3.6 a day.
- Diabetes is decimated!—Animal study results published in Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry showed that the SDG component of flaxseed is an antioxidant that was found to help reduce by 75 percent the development of diabetes in rodents.
- Provides superior prostate protection!—A recent study found that Scottish men with the highest intake of lignans have the lowest incidence of prostate cancer.
- Colon cancer is crushed!—A Dutch study published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention associated a high intake of lignans with a reduced risk of colorectal adenomas—growths that are precursors to colon cancer.
These are just a few of the studies that highlight some of the health-restoring benefits of lignans.
So if you’re ready to get your hands on some of this stuff—look no farther than your local grocery store!
I eat oatmeal four or five mornings a week, and I make a point of adding several tablespoons of fresh, ground flaxseeds. Flax seeds are by far the richest source of healthy lignan nutrients.
I grind them in a coffee grinder. (You don’t want to use the same grinder for actually grinding coffee beans; I don’t think you’ll care for flaxseed-flavored coffee). And just to be clear — you don’t cook the flaxseed in the oatmeal. You add it raw after the oatmeal is cooked.
Of course you can add ground flaxseed to anything you want — yogurt, for example. I just happen to be a regular oatmeal eater.
Grocery shopping just became therapeutic
Although especially rich in lignans, flaxseeds aren’t the only seeds to provide this nutrient. Sesame and sunflower seeds, as well as cashews and peanuts, provide a healthy dose of lignans. You haven’t lived if you’ve never eaten fresh-made cashew butter. It puts peanut butter in the shade as far as I’m concerned.
You can also buy whole grain flaxseed bread as another tasty spin on boosting your lignan intake. I like Sam’s millet-flax bread, if you can get it.
Not only can you add a crunchy taste to some of your favorite foods—but you’ll also find that flaxseeds can help reduce constipation to give you a “smooth move.”
Although foods that are high in lignans have been shown to play a positive role in breast cancer prevention, the truth is that many women do not eat enough of the types of foods that provide a significant amount of this cancer-fighting nutrient.
Because these nutrients pass through your system within 24 to 48 hours, it’s important to eat enough daily to enjoy their protective benefits.
If you think your diet might not provide enough lignans, don’t worry. In the U.S. you can purchase supplements containing lignans from flaxseed without a prescription.
Considering the anti-cancer benefits that lignans provide, you might think it’s well worth the time to add some lignan-rich foods to your next grocery shopping list.
Lee Euler, Publisher