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Arthritis Drugs Linked To Cancer

A recent study led by the Mayo Clinic and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggests that people with rheumatoid arthritis who take Humira or Remicade have three times the risk of developing several types of cancer and two times the risk of developing serious infections compared to people who don't take these drugs.

The Mayo Clinic study links the use of Humira or Remicade to the following types of cancer: lymphoma, skin, gastrointestinal, breast, and lung. It also suggests that higher doses of these drugs correlate to greater risk of developing cancer.

The manufacturers of Humira and Remicade mention these risks on their labels, but they have officially stated that this most recent study led by the Mayo Clinic is flawed, and that it does not prove that Humira or Remicade causes cancer or infections.

To be fair, the study also found that Humira and Remicade do appear to improve flexibility and range of movement, providing significant relief from pain and possibly increasing life expectancy.

The researchers who headed this study stress that people who take Humira or Remicade should seek medical attention right away if they experience fevers, coughing, or other symptoms that indicate the development of an infection.


Here are the key guidelines that I use to help people address rheumatoid arthritis with their food and lifestyle choices:

  • Stop eating pasteurized dairy products and cooked flesh meats like beef, poultry, and pork. These foods are extremely dense in protein that is often damaged by heat and has a good chance of entering the blood stream before being broken down into amino acids. Incompletely digested protein in the blood stream can trigger an autoimmune response that is closely associated with the inflammation that accompanies rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Eat mainly vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. To improve breakdown and assimilation of protein found in whole grains, it is best to soak them in water for a few hours before cooking them. Soaking whole grains in water also decreases the risk of developing mineral deficiencies that can occur due to the presence of phytic acid in unsoaked whole grains.
  • Eat healthy foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Through its effect on the endocrine system, EPA, one of three omega-3 fatty acids, can decrease inflammation throughout the body. Dark green, leafy vegetables, raw walnuts, and small portions of wild, cold water fish and organic, free range eggs are healthy sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Fish oil and cod liver oil are also excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Ensure adequate vitamin D status through sun exposure and/or healthy food sources. Vitamin D can enhance the strength and efficiency of the immune system, making it a vital nutrient when looking to prevent or treat autoimmune disorders.
  • Perhaps most importantly, be sure to address emotional stressors that may be contributing to rheumatoid arthritis. Other than recreational and prescription drugs, no other factors that I know of have more impact on overall health and joint health than unaddressed chronic emotional stress.

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