Complementary and Alternative Medicine Approaches to Cancer - 2001: Key Concepts 
by Schachter Center for Complementary Medicine




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"The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, in diet and in the cause and prevention of disease."
- Thomas Edison

Cancer is a political problem more than it is a medical problem.


Schachter Center for Complementary Medicine
Michael  B. Schachter, M.D., F.A.C.A.M.
2 Executive Boulevard, Suite 202
Suffern, NY 10901.
Tel: 914-368-4600
Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) Approaches to Cancer-2001: Key Concepts

Conventional medicine focuses on destroying cancerous tumors with surgery, radiation & chemotherapy without much attention to the body's natural defenses against cancer.

Most cancer research has concentrated on changes in the size of the tumor in order to determine whether or not a particular treatment is beneficial. Thus, if a cancerous tumor shrinks by 50% or more, the treatment is believed to be effective.

Unfortunately, a change in the size of the cancerous tumor has little relationship either to the survival of the patient or his/her quality of life. This is true because the tumor consists not only of cancerous cells, but body defensive cells as well, and shrinking the tumor kills both types of cells, reducing the body's ability to fight the cancer.

The oncologist in discussing treatment options usually refers to a "response to treatment," which means the likelihood that the tumor will shrink. The patient generally thinks a response to treatment refers to either improved survival and/or improved quality of life, which is not necessarily the case. Therefore, there is a communication gap between the oncologist and the patient.

The most important first step in the CAM approach to battling cancer is educating the patient.

Examples of poor communication between physician and patient involve our most common cancers in women and men: breast cancer and prostate cancer.

Women with breast cancer are generally not told that radiation following a lumpectomy and axillary lymph node removal will not improve their survival.  Men with prostate cancer are not told that no statistically significant evidence exists to indicate that a radical prostatectomy or any kind of radiation therapy will improve their survival. On the contrary, in both examples, the patients are usually presented with these options with the implication that these treatments are absolutely necessary and that there are no other choices.

CAM approaches to cancer presuppose that the body has the ability to heal itself under the proper circumstances and much less emphasis is placed on destroying the cancer at all costs.  Emphasis is placed on building up the body to handle the cancer with relatively non-toxic methods.

The clonal-mutational theory of cancer helps us to better understand the strengths and limitations of conventional and CAM approaches to treating cancer. Cancer develops as a result of mutations involving three specific classes of genes: (1) Proto-oncogenes, which normally stimulate normal cell division, become oncogenes, which stimulate and accelerate wild cell division; (2) tumor suppressor genes, which help to prevent cells from dividing abnormally, mutate and fail to put on the brakes; and (3) DNA repair genes, which repair damage to other genes.  These mutations are either inherited from parents or result from environmental influences-exposure to too many adverse environmental factors like chemical mutagens or radiation and/or not enough exposure to protective factors like phytonutrients. Environmental mutations accumulate over time, so that cancer is generally more common with age. Generally, four or more of these types of mutations within a cell are necessary for the development of clinical cancer. The more mutations present in cancerous cells, the more bizarre, angry and aggressive the cancer.

Radiation and chemotherapy are highly mutagenic and carcinogenic (in addition to being toxic and immune suppressive).  They may contribute to the development of more mutations in cancerous cells that they do not kill.  This helps to explain the well-known phenomenon that after conventional therapy using these therapeutic modalities, when a cancer recurs, it is almost always more resistant to further treatment and more difficult to treat. Furthermore, these treatments are immune suppressive (e.g. they significantly reduce natural killer cell functional activity) and damage the body's ability to fight the cancer. Could we be building in long-term disaster with routine radiation and/or chemotherapy for breast cancer and radiation for prostate cancer?  In evaluating these modalities, we need to balance the cancer killing potential of these treatments with their ability to cause further mutations and damage the body's defenses.  At the very least, when using these treatments, we should be paying attention to ways to building the body simultaneously to reduce their adverse effects.

The various CAM therapies tend to be protective against mutations and immune enhancing and should be used either alone or to counteract the negative effects of radiation and chemotherapy. Numerous in vitro and animal studies provide evidence for the cancer killing effects of nutrients and other natural substances. These substances are frequently damaging to cancer cells, but protective of normal cells. Furthermore, these same nutrients are synergistic with conventional treatments, improving therapeutic results and reducing toxic side effects of the conventional treatments.  These nutrients work as a team and should be used as such, rather than using only one or two of them.  One small, but very impressive study showed that when high doses of many nutrients were given to patients with small cell lung cancer along with their conventional therapy, survival was drastically improved.  The fear of using anti-oxidant nutrients because they may inhibit the pro-oxidative killing effects of radiation and/or chemotherapy is probably not justified because the nutrients are much more beneficial to normal cells than malignant cells.

Categories of CAM treatment programs used at the Schachter Center for Complementary Medicine are: (1) an avoid list; (2) dietary recommendations; (3) oral nutritional supplements; (4) an injectable program; (5) bio-oxidative therapies; (6) hyperthermia - done outside our office; (7) detoxification; (8) possible hormone balancing; (9) exercise; (10) fresh air and natural light; (11) stress management and imagery techniques; (12) homeopathy; (13) various other general modalities, such as bodywork in the form of acupuncture, massage or spinal manipulation or magnetic therapy; and (14) conventional medication including specific conventional cancer treatments that are done outside our office by other practitioners.

The avoid list given to all patients is a general list of foods or environmental exposures that patients are asked to avoid as much as possible. These include:  (1) tobacco exposure - both active and passive; (2) alcohol; (3) caffeine; (4) refined carbohydrates - including white sugar, white flour and white rice; (5) fluoridated and chlorinated water and fluoride in all forms, including tooth paste; (6) hydrogenated fats; (6) mercury amalgam fillings; (7) artificial chemical additives to foods - including artificial sweeteners like aspartame and saccharine; (8) pesticides, hormones and antibiotics in food; (9) high voltage power lines; (10) microwave ovens; (11) electric blankets; (12) aluminum cookware, aluminum containing anti-perspirants and aluminum containing medications; and (13) polluted air.

Dietary recommendations: Patients are asked to eat a wide variety of fresh whole organic foods with an emphasis on vegetables, fruits and whole grains with high-quality animal protein foods as well.  If tolerated, a significant percentage of the diet should be raw.  Most patients are recommended to take a large number of oral supplements, including vitamins, amygdalin, minerals, proteolytic enzymes, essential fatty acids, phytonutrients, therapeutic foods and herbs. These nutrients tend to be synergistic as shown in a simple rat experiment, which showed that as the number of nutrients was increased, the therapeutic effect was increased.

Most patients receive an injectable treatment program involving high doses of ascorbate and amygdalin. Many will also receive a bio-oxidative injectable program in the form of IV dilute hydrogen peroxide. Other components of the program involve the categories mentioned above. Low-dose naltrexone therapy may turn out to be of tremendous value to cancer patients who have cancers with opiate receptors. These include: cancers of the pancreas, prostate and colon; malignant melanoma, Hodgkin's Disease, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and chronic lymphocytic leukemia.

CAM approaches to cancer management should play a role in all types of cancers at all stages of the disease.
MICHAEL B. SCHACHTER, M.D., is a magna cum laude graduate of Columbia College, and received his M.D. degree from Columbia's P&S in 1965.  He is board certified in psychiatry and chelation therapy.

Dr. Schachter has been involved with alternative and complementary medicine since 1974.  He is a recognized leader in orthomolecular psychiatry, nutritional medicine, chelation therapy for cardiovascular disease, and alternative cancer therapies.

Co-author of Food, Mind and Mood (1980, 1987) and author of The Natural Way to a Healthy Prostate (Keats, 1995), Dr. Schachter was a major contributor to Alternative Medicine's Definitive Guide to Cancer (Future Medicine, 1997). Being involved with several complementary medicine organizations, Dr. Schachter was President of ACAM from 1989-91 and is the current President of FAIM.  A frequent lecturer to both professionals and the public, Dr. Schachter also is often a guest on radio and television, speaking about health and related topics.



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