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Nutrition & Its Importance in Cancer Therapy, Part 2

As I stated in my last article dealing with cancer and nutrition, I laid out the groundwork about the importance of diet, how it relates to body systems, and what the individual can do to aid the healing process when dealing with cancer. Today’s article will focus on more specific nutrients that appear in the research and literature. It is important to consult with your healthcare professional when seeking these types of therapies and protocols. Let’s begin with the basics.
The three main areas to be addressed are:
1) Preventing malnutrition
2) bolstering the immune functions
3) the use of specific nutrients as biological response modifiers

Due to the fact that cancer is a serious wasting disease, it is estimated that approximately 40% of all cancer patients die of malnutrition. Nutritional support is not the cure-all, but it does prevent malnourishment. According to Donald Yance Jr., CNMH, a protein shake is recommended once or twice a day, fortified with soy protein, combined with fresh live bacteria yogurt, and the addition of a powdered multivitamin and mineral powder. Many other nutrients can be added to this shake, like flax oil, enzymes, liquid herbals, and specific powdered vitamins. The shake is a great way to get high-level nutrients without having to take a lot of capsules or tablets.

Some people prefer to take vitamin tablets, which are fine, but usually the standard over-the-counter multivitamin does not contain enough of the vital nutrients to do much good. It is recommended to find one that is higher in potencies and from natural sources. The multivitamin is the first of the foundation nutrients. Next would be an antioxidant formula. The antioxidants include beta-carotene, vitamin C, vitamin E, zinc, selenium, and possibly a combination of other plant-based nutrients. Next would be the inclusion of an essential fatty acid supplement either in capsule form or liquid, which can be added to a shake.

This covers a lot of nutrients and works in our first step to resolve potential deficiencies and help prevent malnutrition. Some specific fat-soluble vitamins to consider using at higher doses than found in the multiple would include:

– Beta carotene from the blue green algae source, duneliela Salina. This has been shown to enhance immune proliferation, enhance macrophages (a specialized white cell that consumes cancer cells), and to activate natural killer cells. It is a potent antioxidant and can be used for the treatment and prevention of cancer.

– Vitamin E. The mixed tocopherols are used. Make sure it is the d-alpha form not the synthetic dl-alpha. This is used as an anti-oxidant and to stimulate the immune functions. It has shown in research to have some anti-tumor activity and protects the body from damage due to radiation and chemotherapy.

– CoEnzyme Q10. The soft gel is preferred due to better absorption. This helps to oxygenate the blood and prevent cancer cells anaerobic activity. It also protects the heart muscle from damage due to the use of some chemotherapy agents.

– Vitamin C has shown to improve survival time, works with the NK cells to provide material for the production of interferons and interleukins (the substance secreted to kill cancer cells) and to inhibit the ability of cancer cells to spread.

– B-complex vitamins have been shown to improve appetite, energy and to aid with vitamin C.

– Nutritional yeast is a powder that can be added on salads, soups, popcorn and in the shake.

– EFA’s (Essential Fatty Acids). In the form of fish oil (max EPA), flax oil, borage, and black current seed oil. They reduce inflammation, aid immune response, and restore normal cell activity.

The following minerals need to be addressed also:

– Potassium and magnesium. These are crucial for cancer recovery. Magnesium helps to stabilize cell membranes and elevates immune activity. Potassium is critical for cellular permeability (the ability for fluids to pass back and forth).

– Zinc picolinate is better absorbed and works as an antioxidant, and boosts immune functions.

– Selenium is used in the form called seleno-methionine due to better absorption. Selenium helps in a cancer profile due to its ability to bolster immune functions, improve detoxification processes, is directly toxic to tumor cells therefore helping to potentially shrink them.

The next area of bolstering the immune functions becomes very involved, centering on the natural killer cell activity and the macrophage. The following are nutrients and herbs that have shown to be effective:

– Beta-glucans are basically a type of sugar molecule that work with receptors onspecialized white cells called the macrophage (big eater). Macrophages are the cells that start and regulate immune processes. They initiate intracellular communication by releasing chemical messengers called cytokines, which communicate with many other areas of the immune system and the brain. One form called beta-1-3-D glucan is available in capsules or powdered form and is derived from the cell walls of bakers yeast. Another area where beta glucans are prevalent is in the medicinal mushrooms, shitake, reishi, and maitake varieties.

– Ara-6 (arabinogalactans) is a substance extracted from the larch tree that has the ability to activate the natural killer cell. The killer cells are what attack cancer cells and destroy them. They secrete potent chemical called interferons and interleukins. Ara-6 has been shown to increase the activity of NK cells. It also helps to stimulate macrophage activity. The trade name is called Larix. There are other herbals that can be used concurrently like Echinacea, astragalus, goldenseal, and suma.

In working with substances as biological response modifiers, there are many areas of research. The main area I want to address is protecting the liver throughout the cancer process. When dealing with chemotherapy and radiation, the liver becomes an overtaxed organ. This becomes a critical issue for the survival of the person.

There are two supplements that are recommended, milk thistle extract, and NAC (N-acetyl cysteine). Milk thistle seed extract has shown to protect the liver cells and to aid in the production of a detoxifying agent produced in the liver called glutathione. It has notoxicity and does not appear to be contraindicated with chemotherapy. Doses are usually high, 400-600 mg of active silymarin daily. NAC (N-Acetyl Cysteine) is a sulphur bond amino acid that aids the increased production of glutatione levels. GSH is a potent anti-carcinogen and an important antioxidant.

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