Chemotherapy and Breast Cancer: The Years of Unnecessary Overuse

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News sources were abuzz last week with a shocking health discovery: perhaps chemotherapy for early stage breast cancer can be avoided. As CTV reported, about 70 per cent of women who would normally be advised to undergo chemotherapy actually do not need it. While this was only applicable to women who had hormonally-fueled cancer that had not spread to the lymph nodes, this news could be life-changing for a large percentage of the breast cancer community. Interestingly, 94 per cent of both groups (those who did and did not choose chemotherapy) were still alive after 9 years, and 84 per cent of those who were still alive did not have any signs of cancer, which seems to further indicate that there is no significant advantage to chemotherapy treatment for certain types of cancer.

There is an added twist to this story, though. The test that was used in this study, OncotypeDX, was being investigated as a possibility for cancer patients in BC 4 years ago. In fact, many women who paid to undergo the testing decided to opt out of chemotherapy after receiving their results. Especially with the constant push for cancer research funding, one would think that any new cancer treatment development would be quickly broadcasted, so that those who donate to the cause would feel a sense of confidence that their funds are making a difference. However, this is not necessarily the case.

Oncologist Dr. David Chan wrote an article for Slate in which he suggested that for all the money people donate toward cancer research, the actual progress has been disappointing. Dr. Margaret Cuomo took this sentiment even further, stating that instead of funnelling so much money towards small advances like drugs, more money should be sent to research for cancer prevention. Factors like aging, obesity, and smoking are known to be contributors towards cancer, but those topics are not flashy; nobody wants to think about doing the hard, unglamorous work of prevention. A quick fix to a problem is usually more attractive than the thought of taking responsibility for the choices that led to that problem in the first place.

Just how big is this problem? Cancer is the second leading cause of death globally, yet around a third of those deaths can be attributed to the 5 leading behavioural and dietary risks: high BMI, low fruit and vegetable intake, lack of physical activity, tobacco use, and alcohol use. Dr. Cuomo had another interesting observation: “As recently as March 2012, public health experts told us that we could prevent more than half the cancers that occur in the United States today if we applied the knowledge we already have.” Yet, after Richard Nixon declared his war on cancer, we have spent hundreds of billions of dollars, only to have some experts now resigning themselves to treating cancer as the new normal. Dr. Harold Varmus went so far as to say, “We have many, many patients with lethal cancers who are actually feeling pretty good and are working full time and enjoying their families. As long as their symptoms can be kept under control by radiotherapy and drugs that control symptoms and other modalities, we’re doing right by our patients.” Is mere symptom control really the optimal outcome doctors want for their patients?

The other interesting aspect of Dr. Varmus’ quote is the specified treatment methods that are preferred: “chemotherapy and drugs.” In 2015, the market for cancer drugs had reached $100 billion, and was projected to reach $147 billion by 2018. Cancer research and treatment has become, in a sense, its own industry. Donating to the cancer cause is not only seen as socially conscientious, it is also a perfect opportunity for retailers to leverage extra profits from “pink ribbon” branded merchandise. There is also the issue of nonprofits; while some are begun by well-intentioned people (usually the families of survivors), others are run by unscrupulous people looking to make a quick buck. Ideally, cancer charities would make their financial records available to the public for transparency, but many, including the Breast Cancer Society, do not.

Despite the money poured into research over all these years, millions have died while following their doctors’ orders for chemotherapy, and the few who did not were undoubtedly ridiculed and dismissed as signing their own death warrants. Yet, it is now coming to light that chemotherapy may have been unnecessary all along. If this is the case, perhaps other treatment modalities should be given more consideration, as well. Naturopaths can offer natural remedies to combat the side effects of traditional cancer treatment. Or, better yet, some naturopathic products have been found to help in the treatment of cancer itself. Echinacea, garlic, turmeric, burdock, carotenoids, green tea, ginseng, black cohosh, flax seed, and Vitamin D have all shown some promise in cancer treatment.

Thymus Gland and Glycine have also shown promise with our own customers. One such testimonial is below:

“I have a rare autoimmune blood disorder (Evans Syndrome) that is manifested with chronic low platelet levels, crises of platelet crashes, or low hemoglobin or neutrophil levels, either sequentially or in a duet. Many doctors and hematologists have never heard of nor treated it, so they guess about the treatment based upon the current crisis. High dose prednisone and other steroids gave only slow remission that came back in a short time span after ceasing the steroid treatment. A splenectomy has been suggested, but my spleen is working perfectly, and I found that it doesn’t help for Evans Syndrome. One month of remission is not a permanent solution. In the past, I was originally treated with high dose prednisone. It brought the blood levels back up for a short while, but it caused severe phlebitis in my leg and torso veins. Osteonecrosis of the top of my tibiae has left me limping in pain. Calcium ripped out of my bones by high dose prednisone has been deposited in my arteries and heart, creating angina and 3x 80% blockages. Low platelet levels also seemed to interfere with my sleep. Chemotherapy would work for about 22 months when I was able to obtain it. It is not provided by the provincial government nor my health insurance because it is so expensive, and the treatment is “OFF LABEL” $24,000 per session, and I cannot afford this. Enter Life Choice and Eldon Dahl… His suggestion of trying Thymus Gland and L-Glycine three months ago has helped my platelet levels climb up to normal levels of around 183 g/dL, and my hemoglobin and neutrophils have been stabilized at normal levels for about 2 months. With higher platelets, I seem to be able to sleep better, and I have had to reduce my warfarin intake by 30% to maintain a 2-3 INR. My personal care physician says except for the damage done by the prednisone and needing to lose some pounds, I am now normal for a male my age. My quality of life has greatly improved. Thank you.”

The founder and CEO of Life Choice has also designed a natural cancer treatment. Because it is a naturopathic approach, though, funding is not available for clinical trials, in spite of having a cancer clinic willing to do the trials. It’s about time that naturopathic medicine gets the necessary funding in naturally treating disease conditions.

If you would like to donate to this research or any other research Life Choice is undertaking, there is a donation link at our Life Choice – bottom page – Charity – here.

Posted in Health, Newsletters.

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