Avastin

  1. Nutrient increases survival time in breast cancer patients

    As a nutritionist, my focus is on prevention. I rarely talk about ways to treat a disease like cancer. But if you had to guess, you probably know what I think of chemotherapy. Without a doubt, it's one of the most brutal treatments in the so- called modern era.

    But there are things you can do to counteract its effects. In fact, a new study shows that one nutrient given alongside chemo can actually increase survival time in women with advanced breast cancer.

    Nutrient supercharges chemo

    French scientists recruited 25 women with breast cancer to take part in their study. Almost 70 percent of the women had advanced stages of cancer, with metastases to the liver and other sites.

    Each of the women received chemotherapy to treat their cancer. They also received 1.8 grams per day of the omega-3 fatty acid DHA.

    Why DHA, you wonder? Well, scientists believe that DHA makes cancer tumours more "sensitive" to chemotherapy. In other words, it helps the chemo to kill more cancer cells.

    Women with most DHA double survival rates

    The women followed this regimen for two to six months. Then, they went on living their lives as best they could. Scientists checked back in on the women after 31 months. They found that--on average--most of the women survived 22 months. But the women with the most DHA in their blood survived for 34 months.

    Now, I know these statistics are tough to read. But for anyone with cancer, it's critically important. Especially when you consider that the average survival rate for a woman with stage IV breast cancer is normally just 14 months with chemo alone.

    But in this study, the women with the most DHA in their blood added 20 months to their life. In other words, they more than doubled their prognosis just by adding an omega-3 supplement to their regimen.

    Drugs versus Nutrients

    In this study, the omega-3 fatty acid DHA added up to 20 months to a woman's life with advanced breast cancer. Now, let's compare that to the blockbuster drug Avastin.

    Avastin is not a chemotherapy drug. It doesn't kill cancer cells directly. Instead, it cuts off the blood supply to the malignant tumors. In theory, it should boost the effects of chemotherapy (much like DHA, you could argue). But Avastin can cost up to $9,000 per month. Plus, side effects include GI perforation, stroke, and heart attack. And here's the real kicker...

    A recent study on colon cancer showed that Avastin--despite the hefty price tag – only extends a patient's life by an average of four months.

    But what really makes me sick is that the company that makes Avastin wants to see the drug used to treat other types of cancer. Just last month the company wrapped up a clinical trial involving Avastin and advanced stomach cancer patients.

    In this trial, scientists divided patients into two groups. One group received Avastin plus another chemo drug called Xeloda. The other group received a placebo plus Xeloda. Turns out the Avastin group didn't live any longer than the placebo group did.

    However, despite these shameful results, Avastin is still the go-to drug for most oncologists. It pulled in roughly $6 billion in 2009 alone.

    Support without side effects

    If you're diagnosed with cancer, make sure to weigh your options carefully. And if you decide to include chemotherapy in your treatment, you should definitely consider adding a fish oil supplement.

    The women in the study took 1.8 grams of DHA per day. To get that amount of DHA, you'll have to take nine of the large fish oil capsules. (There are usually about 200 mg of DHA in each fish oil capsule.)

    And just in case you're wondering, fish oil--even at these high levels--is completely non-toxic. You'll just have to contend with the fishy aftertaste. To avoid this, take the fish oil with meals. Also, make sure to take at least 1,200 IU of all-natural mixed tocopherol vitamin E to wipe out free radicals generated by the fish oil.

    Additional support beyond fish oil

    Without a doubt, cancer takes an enormous toll on your body. So, it's critically important to give your body all the nutritional support it needs in order for it to have the strength it needs to fight the cancer.

    First, to support your immune system, be sure to take a good multivitamin every day along with 2,000 mg ascorbic acid or ascorbate vitamin C three times a day. In addition, you may want to consider taking alpha lipoic acid, an antioxidant that's both fat- and water-soluble. Third, I'd also recommend milk thistle to help support your liver as it flushes away toxins from your body. And lastly, for anyone taking chemo, ginger tablets can really help ease nausea during treatment.

  2. An all-natural Avastin?

    You can probably bet that Popeye never got cancer. Why do I say that? A recent study by scientists in Japan showed that nutrients in spinach inhibited the destruction of DNA, cancer cell growth, and tumor growth in lab mice. These mice were bread to develop colon cancer. But after just two weeks on a diet rich in nutrients found in spinach, the tumors shrank. Just how much did the tumors shrink? A whopping 56.1 percent! Plus -- all the markers of cell proliferation were drastically reduced. This means any signs showing that the cancer had spread (or metastasized) went down. And all this occurred without any side effects. How did this happen? Well, according the researchers, the nutrients in spinach reduced the ability of the tumors to supply themselves with the blood they need to fuel their growth. (Hey guys…side note…this is what the blockbuster drug Avastin does. But Avastin costs upwards of $100,000 per year. You better believe Genentech -- the manufacturers of the mega-popular drug -- wants to keep this stellar study under wraps!)

  3. Doesn’t anyone believe in prevention anymore?

    Some cancer researchers estimate that we could prevent up to 40 percent of new cancer cases in this country with better nutrition and simple lifestyle changes. I tend to agree. In fact, I‘d push those estimates even higher if you‘re talking about preventing colon, breast, and prostate cancer. The Chinese have known this for centuries. That‘s why two "super foods" have been part of their family meals for literally thousands of years. Of course, I‘m talking about mushrooms and green tea. It‘s not any big secret among followers of alternative medicine that these two foods build your immune system and can help protect you against cancer. But on main street U.S.A., the idea isn‘t setting off fireworks. And that‘s a shame, because literally hundreds of studies have shown that mushrooms and green tea can help protect you against cancer. Plus--a new study I just read about in the International Cancer Journal makes that claim even stronger. In this study, Australian and Chinese researchers showed that mushrooms and green tea--when consumed daily--can almost wipe out any risk you have of getting breast cancer. Here‘s how… Breast cancer rates slashed A team of scientists from the University of Western Australia and Zhejiang University, China studied the dietary habits of 2,000 women between the ages of 20 and 87. The women lived in an affluent part of southeast China and about half of them had breast cancer. The other half did not have breast cancer. Researchers asked these women about their daily consumption of mushrooms and green tea. Researchers found that the most common types of mushroom eaten were fresh white button mushrooms, Agaricus bisporus, and fragrant dried mushrooms, Lentinula edodes. They also surveyed other known risk factors, such as education level, weight, exercise, and smoking status. What they found was remarkable. The women who ate just 1/3 of an ounce of fresh mushrooms daily were 64 percent less likely to develop breast cancer. Plus--women who ate fresh mushrooms and drank green tea daily were about 80 to 90 percent less likely to get breast cancer compared to their counterparts who didn‘t consume the super foods. Wow... 80 to 90 percent less likely to develop breast cancer! And these women weren‘t even eating shiitake mushrooms, known to have anti-cancerous properties. They were eating regular old button mushrooms you can find in any grocery store in the U.S. That certainly got my attention. We‘re talking about non-toxic, non-drug options for preventing cancer. How can you argue with 2,000 years of experience fighting cancer? Green tea and mushrooms are traditional foods in China. They‘ve been served at family dinners for literally thousands of years. Clearly, this is a very healthy tradition. And that‘s because edible mushrooms (such as shiitake mushrooms) contain lentinian, a compound that boosts the immune system and prevents tumor growth. Green tea contains polyphenols called catechins that helps block the spread of cancer cells to healthy tissues. Is it any surprise, then, that women in China are 4 to 5 times less likely to get breast cancer compared to women in the U.S.? In China, only about 19 women per 100,000 get breast cancer. In the U.S., more than 100 women per 100,000 get breast cancer in their lifetime. Getting angry at the Genentech Of course, after reading about these powerful results among Chinese women, I got angry. What’s it going to take for health practitioners in the U.S. to get serious about preventing cancer with good nutrition? Does anyone in the U.S. really want to prevent cancer? Of course, I‘m a bit of a cynic. So I jump right on the money trail. Money--not lack of knowledge--is a big part of the problem. For instance, without a burgeoning cancer population, what would all the oncologists do? What would Big Pharma do if we all could prevent cancer naturally? Let‘s consider how much Big Pharma makes from just one of their cancer drugs. Two years ago, the New York Times reported that a colon cancer patient would have to fork over almost $100,000 a year to pay for Genentech’s new drug Avastin. That’s double the cost of the next most-expensive cancer drug. And now, two years later, Avastin is used to treat breast and lung cancer patients. This new "wonder drug" works by cutting off blood supply to cancer tumors. Just imagine the profits! Avastin pulls in more than $3.5 billion a year for Genentech. In fact, cancer drugs like Avastin rake in the most money for Big Pharma, second only to popular cholesterol-lowering drugs (like statins, which we covered in last week‘s Guide to Good Health: http://www.northstarnutritionals.com/article_list.php?docs_id=120). So--with such a hefty price tag, Avastin must save lives and cure cancer, right? Well, I‘m not so sure. Now that it‘s been on the market for a few years and we have more data to look at, the numbers don‘t look so great. Studies show Avastin only prolongs a cancer patient‘s life by a few months at best.
    Of course Big Pharma‘s out for money, but there‘s got to be somebody who still believes in prevention.
    Okay, what about the American Cancer Society? Don‘t they want to help you prevent cancer? Well, sometimes I wonder. Think about all the people they employ... the dinners, the daffodil sales, the golf tournaments. Are they really serious about preventing cancer or are they happy hosting their annual Walk for Life?! It‘s a legitimate question, especially after reading how so many Chinese women are preventing breast cancer naturally. Just how much does the ACS care about preventing cancer? According to their web site, they spent 18% of their funds (or $189 million) on prevention in 2008. Sure-- that‘s a lot of money. But in my book, it‘s not enough. Especially when you see that they spent more than that on their fundraisers. So I was wondering, what does the American Cancer Society have to say about mushrooms and green tea? Research abounds on these two nutritional powerhouses, so I ran a quick search on the ACS web site and decided to type the word "mushrooms" into their key word search. Any guess what I found first on their list of matches? It was an article dating from 3-28-2000. Yes, the article was positive. But it dated back almost 10 years, folks! So much has happened in that span of time. I hardly consider a 10-year-old marginally helpful article about mushrooms a real tool in preventing cancer.
    Okay, enough ranting for this week!
    It‘s time I step off my soap-box and give you some real tips for eating healthy that hopefully will keep cancer from ever taking hold in your body. Here‘s what I recommend:
    • Add mushrooms to your daily diet when you can. Toss them into salads, sautés, and stir-fries whenever possible.
    • Drink two or three cups of green tea a day. Go straight for the good stuff from an actual tea bag…not the sugary kind made by some of the popular manufacturers.
    • Limit red meat to 2-3 times per week. Choose only fresh meats that have been raised without hormones, pesticides and antibiotics. Avoid meats that have been cured, like bacon, ham and lunch meat as these contain nitrates, a known carcinogen.
    • Avoid processed foods (along the inside aisles of the grocery store) made with preservatives and food colorings.
    • Eat as much fresh produce as you can. Especially go for green leafy vegetables like kale and spinach. Also, choose colorful foods like peppers, blueberries, and tomatoes. Shoot for eight to 10 servings per day.
    • Get plenty of fish into your diet.
    • Eliminate your intake of refined carbohydrates, especially sugar.
    That’s a good start. For more comprehensive dietary guidelines, look back at my Christmas list from 2008. Here‘s a link: http://www.northstarnutritionals.com/article_list.php?docs_id=73

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