The Whole View, Episode 478: Can You Do Everything Right and Still Get Sick?

Welcome to episode 478 of The Whole View! This week, Stacy and Dr. Sarah break down the science behind cancer and why we can still get sick even if we do everything right. They look at various holistic and alternative medicine studies to determine how diet and lifestyle impact health and conventional medicine.

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The Whole View, Episode 478: Can You Do Everything Right and Still Get Sick?

Welcome back to episode 478! (3:19)

Listener Question:

Hello ladies! My two favorite people. I feel greedy writing you a third time but here we go again. I promise you I will not be disappointed if you don’t answer. But I do highly respect any and all opinions and information you put out into the health world. I recommend your resources to everyone! Even my doctors! 

You helped me a lot with an initial weight loss about 4 years ago and then with keeping my healthy eating practices while I was pregnant with my second child 2 years ago (with minimal guilt I might add) so I truly thank you!

Sadly after I delivered I got “sick”. Doctors said I was fine. But through persistence and testing 6 months later I was diagnosed with multiple myeloma (cancer) and I’m having trouble coming to terms with it. 

The reason I seek you guys out is WTF I was doing everything right. The health world says if my gut and lifestyle are good, do a little fasting, reduce the sugar I should be good no? I feel a bit bitter to the health world I’ve now been a part of for years. People keep recommending naturopathic treatment and think I’m crazy not to do it. I can’t afford it and my oncologists are saying NO. I’m very far gone and I need all the conventional medical advancements to keep me alive.I just want your opinion on cancer and maybe even my bone marrow cancer if you know anything. 

My prognosis isn’t good. There’s no cure and it’s spread to my bones. What do I do health wise here? Am I justified to ditch the health world now and go full conventional medical care. What stuff from the health world do I keep around? I can’t take chances and I need to go with science. You are the most science minded people I know. Please consider a response if you have time. Thanks for reading 

– Dayna

 

You Can Do Everything Right and Still Get Sick

Dayna, we’re sending you all the good things, thoughts, prayers, positive vibes, strength, and love. (7:02)

This is not your fault! 

Cancer is a complex group of diseases caused by the accumulation of DNA mutations within cells. 

A gene mutation can instruct a healthy cell to:

  • Allow rapid growth. A gene mutation can tell a cell to grow and divide more rapidly. This creates many new cells that all have that same mutation.
  • Fail to stop uncontrolled cell growth. Normal cells know when to stop growing to have just the right number of each type of cell. Cancer cells lose the controls (tumor suppressor genes) that tell them when to stop growing. A mutation in a tumor suppressor gene allows cancer cells to continue growing and accumulating.
  • Make mistakes when repairing DNA errors. DNA repair genes look for errors in a cell’s DNA and make corrections. A mutation in a DNA repair gene may mean that other.

Occurrence of Gene Mutations

You may be born with a genetic mutation that you inherited from your parents. This type of mutation accounts for a small percentage of cancers.

Most gene mutations occur after you’re born and aren’t inherited. Many forces can cause gene mutations, such as smoking, radiation, viruses, cancer-causing chemicals (carcinogens), poor diet quality, sedentary lifestyle, hormones, and chronic inflammation.

Random chance is the sucky answer, but gene mutations frequently occur during normal cell growth. However, cells contain a mechanism that recognizes when a mistake occurs and repairs the mistake. Occasionally, a mistake is missed and can cause a cell to become cancerous.

The gene mutations you’re born with, and those you acquire throughout your life work together to cause cancer.

It’s not clear just how many mutations must accumulate for cancer to form. This likely varies among cancer types.

Dr. Sarah highly recommends the book The Emperor of All Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee.

And, for our other listeners, you can do everything right and still:

  • Get an infectious disease
  • Have an autoimmune flare
  • Develop a new serious chronic illness
  • Get injured

Stacy and Dr. Sarah have been very upfront with their health ups and downs over the last 9 years of doing this podcast. And they hope being vulnerable has helped to emphasize that no diet or lifestyle makes us invincible.

It’s important to Dr. Sarah that Dayna finds peace in her decision to go all-in on conventional cancer treatment and modern medicine. So, let’s go through some of the science showing that no diet, supplement, botanical, fasting, or otherwise have ever shown efficacy in treating cancer.

 

Gonzalez Protocol

Gonzalez Protocol is similar to Gerson Method – vegan juice fasts, with supplements, coffee enemas, dry brushing, etc. (32:15)

Patients receive pancreatic enzymes orally every 4 hours and at meals daily on days 1-16, followed by 5 days of rest. They also receive magnesium citrate and Papaya Plus with the pancreatic enzymes. 

Additionally, patients receive nutritional supplementation with vitamins, minerals, trace elements, and animal glandular products 4 times per day on days 1-16, followed by 5 days of rest. 

Courses repeat every 21 days until death despite relapse. Patients consume a moderate vegetarian metabolizer diet during therapy, which excludes red meat, poultry, and white sugar. 

Coffee enemas are performed twice a day, along with skin brushing daily, skin cleansing once a week with castor oil during the first 6 months of therapy, and a salt and soda bath each week. 

Patients also undergo a complete liver flush and a clean sweep and purge on a rotating basis each month during the 5 days of rest.

Scientific Validity

The Gonzalez trial was stopped early, in 2005, after the DSMC found that the data convincingly demonstrated that the regimen was inferior to standard treatment for cancer of the pancreas. 

A later nonrandomized, controlled clinical trial compared the effectiveness of standard treatment with that of the Gonzalez regimen in patients whose pancreatic cancer could not be removed by surgery. 

Patients treated with standard chemotherapy survived an average of 14 months, and patients treated with the Gonzalez regimen survived only an average of 4.3 months. 

In addition, patients treated with chemotherapy reported a better quality of life than those treated with the Gonzalez regimen.

 

Homeopathy

There are no homeopathic clinical trials and limited animal research to go off of. (36:02)

A brand-new meta-analysis from May 2021 of 23 studies “Homeopathy in Experimental Cancer Models: A Systematic Review.” Twenty-three articles met the inclusion criteria: 14 in vitro, eight in vivo, and one in vitro plus in vivo experimental models. 

NO HUMAN TRIALS!

Most studies were from India. Research prominently focused on cytotoxic effects involving apoptotic mechanisms.

Fundamental research of homeopathy in cancer is still early and has mainly been performed by a few groups of investigators. 

The results point to the interference of well-selected homeopathic medicines with cell cycle and apoptotic mechanisms in cancer cells. However, these findings still need independent reproduction.

Scientific Regulations & Homeopathy

It’s important to note homeopathic remedies aren’t well regulated

Prescribed by trained professionals, homeopathic medicines in high dilutions are probably safe and unlikely to provoke severe adverse reactions. However, it is difficult to draw definite conclusions due to the low methodological quality of reports claiming possible adverse effects of homeopathic medicines. 

This mainly shows phytonutrients destroy cancer and is true of so many phytonutrients: that’s why a diet rich in vegetables and fruits reduces cancer risk. However, it doesn’t reduce the risk to zero! That’s why we can still get cancer even when we do everything right.

Just because the sulforaphane in broccoli inhibits cancer, as discussed on the show last week, doesn’t mean Dr. Sarah would go on a “Broccoli Diet” to treat cancer.

This study in women with breast cancer looked at complementary and alternative medicine use, mostly homeopathy (65.4%).

More intense Cancer-related symptoms included fatigue consistently associated with oral complementary and alternative medicine use at diagnosis and post-diagnosis [adjusted odds ratio (aOR) for 10-point increase 1.05 (95% Confidence interval 1.01-1.09) and 1.04 (1.01-1.09) vs. never use, respectively]. 

 

Photodynamic Therapy

Photodynamic therapy (PDT) uses photosensitizers, oxygen, and light at visible wavelengths to stimulate the formation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and trigger apoptosis of cancer cells. (46:50)

July 2020 review determined insufficient data and stated, “more research needs conduction.

 

Fasting and Keto

Stacy and Dr. Sarah are only concerned with the science of fasting, and the Keto approach became such a hot-button topic for many! (48:40)

Adverse Reactions to Ketogenic Diets: Caution Advised

How Ketogenic Diet Wreaks Havoc on Your Gut

Intermittent Fasting: Secret to Weight Loss or Dangerous Fad?

TPV Podcast Episodes 386: Intermittent Fasting, 140: The Danger of Ketogenic Diets305: Why Insulin Is Important & Awesome!, and 423: The Scientific Method – 

Animal and in vitro studies show why these might work, but there are NO well-designed clinical trials to confirm results in humans! Also, intervention studies in animals don’t necessarily translate to humans.

Also, it’s not super strong evidence, but this June 2021 meta-analysis of 12 animal studies showed 5 with some benefits. However, the overall is right on the line of margin of error.

What The Science Says

Again, there are very limited human studies, and most don’t even measure any effect.

In this Sept 2021 study, 50 glioma patients were randomized 1:1 to re-irradiation combined with either SD or KD-IF. 

The KD-IF schedule included 3 days of a ketogenic diet (KD: 21-23 kcal/kg/d, carbohydrate intake limited to 50 g/d), followed by 3 days of fasting and again 3 days of KD.

The endpoint was whether or not they followed the protocol. 20 patients completed the study, and the diet affected neither quality of life nor cognition. Low glucose emerged as a significant prognostic parameter in the best responder analysis. 

In this Aug 2021 study, twenty-five patients with biopsy-confirmed World Health Organization grade 2 to 4 astrocytoma enrolled in an 8-week Glioma Atkins-Based Diet (GLAD). 

GLAD consisted of 2 fasting days (calories <20% calculated estimated needs) interleaved between 5 modified Atkins diet days (net carbohydrates ≤20 g/d) each week. Aug 2021

The endpoint was whether they followed the diet, not an impact on their tumors. 21 patients completed the study, and the diet was well tolerated, with two grade 3 adverse events (neutropenia, seizure). 

More Science

Schwartz K.A., Noel M., Nikolai M., Chang H.T. Investigating the Ketogenic Diet As Treatment for Primary Aggressive Brain Cancer: Challenges and Lessons Learned. Front. Nutr. 2018;5:11. doi: 10.3389/fnut.2018.00011. [PMC free article

15 subjects using a ketogenic diet (KD) as an addition to current standard treatments that include surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. The study only evaluated whether patients could stick to this diet. 

Keto in 8 glioblastoma patients showed that the treatment of GBM patients with 4:1 KD using a total meal replacement program with standardized recipes was well tolerated. However, the small sample size limits efficacy conclusions.

July 2021 study looked at patients with non-metastasized rectal cancer during radiotherapy. It concluded rectal cancer patients undergoing curative radiotherapy; a KD significantly reduced body weight and fat mass. It also preserved skeletal muscle mass. In addition, they demonstrated a trend for KDs contributing synergistically to pathological tumor response, which is in line with preclinical data that warrants future confirmation in larger studies.

  •  

Natural Remedies: Dr. Sarah’s Verdict 

All the studies available are collections of underwhelming studies that either don’t measure an effect or show an effect that isn’t statistically significant. AND, most of these studies combine keto with traditional therapies! 

Whatever claims you’ve seen on the internet of an alternative medicine treatment curing cancer, they ALL have yet to be proven with scientific studies.

However, the conventional treatments are studied and have good statistics to go with them. Therefore, they are currently our best choice for treating cancer.

Work with your oncologist and ask lots of questions!

 

Final Thoughts

That doesn’t mean there isn’t a role for diet, lifestyle, and supplements in conventional treatment.

You’re supporting your diet through standard cancer treatment, including radiation and chemotherapy, which is AMAZING. And many phytonutrients are known to mitigate the side effects of chemotherapy.

People with cancer often need more calories, protein, and antioxidants than usual, so implementing. Also, those undergoing chemotherapy are more likely to be deficient in several nutrients, such as magnesium, iron, vitamin D, and folate. [See more!]

Cancer treatment can cause loss of appetite and GI symptoms, too! So, if you need to graze to get enough food, do that! Make every bite count. 

If you’re limited in what you can stomach or keep down, do the best you can. Doing the best you can is all you can do.

And, hugs again to Dayna!

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