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What to do About Cancer - Part Two
Posted by Dr. Ben Kim on Oct 21, 2015
In part one of this look at what to do about cancer, I expressed support for surgical excision of a malignant tumor whenever deemed prudent by those involved.
Generally, I don't feel as good about radiation and chemotherapy, but before I explain why, please allow me to say this: if you've already undergone radiation or chemotherapy, consider your body strong and resilient, having withstood the harmful effects of these therapies.
Every person's case is unique, and should be treated as such. This means getting additional professional opinions and researching the statistics on outcomes for chemotherapy and radiation for the type and location of the malignant mass at hand.
Contrary to popular belief within alternative health circles, there is relatively strong evidence to suggest that radiation therapy can significantly extend lifespan with some types of cancer - examples include localized tumors in the cervix and within the neck region.
The same holds true for chemotherapy - if you spend some time searching through archived published research at the national library of medicine, you'll find that chemotherapy is effective in extending lifespan in a measurable way with some types of cancer - examples include testicular cancer and some types of lymphoma, especially when such cancers are detected early.
Still, it's clear to me that in most cases of cancer, radiation and chemotherapy do not measurably improve lifespan, and they almost always decrease quality of life. With some cancers, scientific literature is absolutely clear on there being no benefit to using chemotherapy - examples of clear-cut cases include melanoma and cancers of the kidneys, bladder, and pancreas.
The simple idea behind using radiation to treat cancer is to use radioactivity to stop malignant cells from reproducing. You zap cells to death or at least until they're injured enough to stop replicating.
The problem with radiation therapy is that it is impossible to injure or kill only malignant cells. In the course of hurting cancerous cells, healthy cells (at the periphery of the beam) will also be injured. Some healthy cells may turn cancerous after being injured by radiation therapy.
Here's what Dr. Jon Gofman - a professor at the University of California - has to say about ionizing radiation and human health:
X-rays are known to cause instability in our genetic material, which is usually the central characteristic of most aggressive cancers.
There is no risk-free dose of x-rays. Even the weakest doses of x-rays can cause cellular damage that cannot be repaired.
There is strong epidemiological evidence to support the contention that x-rays can contribute to the development of every type of human cancer.
Consider that a typical chest x-ray delivers just a fraction of a single rad (radiation absorbed doses) of radiation. Compare this to the several thousands of rads that are typically used in the course of treating common cancers with radiation therapy, and you have a good idea of how much radiation is involved.
This makes sense, of course, as the purpose of radiation therapy is to severely injure or kills cells.
The same general idea hold true with chemotherapy. It's simple: chemotherapy is highly toxic to every cell in your body. The chemical agents involved aren't intelligent - they course through your bloodstream and hurt everything that they come into contact with.
The hope is that your malignant cells will be destroyed, and that enough of the rest of your cells will survive - this outcome would be deemed by the conventional medical community as a favorable response with acceptable side effects.
These "side" effects are really just effects, of course. Drugs are incapable of affecting just one part of your body. They affect every location that your bloodstream takes them to.
There's really no need to pinpoint organs that are damaged by chemotherapy because every organ in your body gets damaged to some degree by chemotherapy - there's no question about this, it's a fact.
But again, please note that despite the known harmful effects of chemotherapy and radiation therapy, in some cases, statistics indicate that they do improve lifespan.
If you are diagnosed with cancer and are faced with the decision to accept or refuse these conventional therapies, I encourage you to gather facts and experiences that are relevant to your situation. Consider the type and stage of your cancer, your age, the strength of your immune system, and best and worst case outcomes.
For myself, even in knowing that there are some types and stages of cancer that can be helped with radiation and/or chemotherapy, I am relatively certain that I would never receive these treatments. But I don't feel comfortable suggesting this same path for everyone. It's a highly personal decision, one that should be made with a great deal of thought by you, your loved ones, and your health care provider.
Please note: A number of others in the health care field and those who provide commentary on health care have written thorough and well researched articles on this topic. If you'd like to learn about the origins of radiation therapy and chemotherapy in the treatment of cancers, an excellent resource to start with is John Robbins' Reclaiming Our Health: Exploding the Medical Myth and Embracing the Sources of True Healing.
So, what to do about cancer?
The use of chemotherapy and radiation in the treatment of cancer stems from the conventional medical paradigm of fighting an unwanted growth. Within this paradigm, little consideration is given to how and why a malignancy develops. The mindset is to get rid of the malignancy at all costs and declare the person to be cancer-free.
A growing community of health-conscious people recognize that this mindset (let's do everything I can to get rid of it and get on with my life!) doesn't give the person involved his or her best chance to truly restore health. If you don't strive to identify the factors that may have caused you to develop cancer, how can you have peace of mind that comes from knowing that you're taking steps to prevent a re-occurrence?
As is the case with any health challenge, I feel it's best to look at cancer as an opportunity to figure out where our lives are out of balance, and what we can do to help restore it.
If I was to develop some type of cancer, I would first look to see if it made sense to have it removed surgically.
I would then:
Ensure optimal vitamin D status - no other nutrient appears to be more important in addressing and preventing cancer of any type.
If at all possible, step away from everyday duties to give myself plenty of time and space to rest, both physically and emotionally - this can be exceptionally helpful in allowing exhausted organs to heal and shifting the body from a flight/fight state to a parasympathetic state that is essential for healing.
Spend at least two weeks ingesting nothing but freshly pressed vegetable juices - I'm not aware of a safer or more effective way of allowing the body to experience an intense cleanse while maintaining ongoing nourishment.
After an intense cleanse with freshly pressed vegetable juices, focus on eating mainly fresh plant foods and any clean animal foods that I felt like eating (like organic eggs or wild fish). The goal would be to continuously nourish all of my cells and avoid unnecessary digestive and toxic burden from food choices.
Do everything possible to be around fresh air and take deep, mindful breaths often. Healing requires plenty of oxygen intake and regular clearance of carbon dioxide from the blood - deep cycles of inhalation and exhalation allow both to happen.
Regularly partake of an activity that I truly enjoy and could rely on to allow for a good sweat - engaging in this type of activity promotes healthy circulation of blood and lymphatic fluid, which in turn, allows for optimal immune system strength.
Minimize exposure to all significant sources of electromagnetic radiation - this includes non-essential diagnostic imaging techniques that utilize ionizing radiation, as well as regular use of a cell phone.
Regularly visualize all part of my body healing and building strength.
Perhaps most importantly, I would focus on the vision that I have for my life and how I want to be of service to those around me.
I strongly believe that no other factor has more influence over our ability to get and stay healthy than a sense of purpose that requires that we stay well for as long as possible. If you don't feel that you have something that's of significant value to give to the world - to some cause or even just to one other person - you likely won't sustain the everyday effort and subconscious energy needed to will your way to good health.
Of course, the ideal scenario is to incorporate habits of healthy eating and living into everyday life to prevent cancer and other degenerative illnesses. But it takes a special understanding of the short and long term value of staying healthy for most of us to really live this way consistently. And in most cases, it also takes a powerful "why" - strong motivation to stay well - to sustain the everyday effort that is needed to access our full health potential.
I hope that this post is useful in some way.
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