What Everyone Needs to Know About Cancer

What Everyone Needs to Know About Cancer

Receiving a diagnosis of cancer is often the beginning of a terrifying and overwhelming experience for patients and loved ones alike, and the seriousness of the situation can hardly be overstated. It is a time when calm, rational thinking and planning are crucial, yet nearly impossible. Complicating the situation, friends and family members have a wide variety of emotionally-charged opinions about how a patient should care for himself or herself. Medical personnel also add stress to the mix by scheduling tests, treatments, and procedures very rapidly, giving the patient little time to process emotions or access information.

If you, or someone you love, must face cancer, you need to understand what it really is, where it came from, how it functions, and what you can do to make things better. Knowledge reduces fear and stress and helps you make better decisions. Knowing that there is much you can do to help yourself reduces the feeling of helplessness that so often accompanies the struggle with cancer.

What is cancer?
A cancerous cell is not like a bacterium, virus, or other pathogenic substance. It is one of your body’s own cells which is simply no longer able to function normally. A cancerous tumor is a collection of cancerous cells. A normal healthy cell is an amazingly complex body in its own right. Each cell is full of tiny organelles just like your body is full of organs. These organelles do many of the same jobs for the cell that your organs do for you – jobs like removing waste, protecting you from infection, and making important substances such as hormones, neurotransmitters, and even energy. It is much less frightening when you realize that when you develop cancer, you are not under some sort of attack. It’s just your own body, doing the best it can under circumstances you can control.

How does a cancer cell differ from a normal one?
A cancer cell differs from its normal healthy neighbors in three very important ways. The first difference is in how it produces the energy it needs to stay alive. Healthy cells produce energy through a bio-chemical process that relies on a plentiful supply of oxygen. Cancer cells produce energy with little or no oxygen. In fact, cancer cells don’t thrive at all in an oxygen-rich environment. This fact was discovered long ago by Dr. Otto Warburg, who received the Nobel Prize for his research. In 1966, Dr. Warburg delivered a lecture entitled The Prime Cause and Prevention of Cancer to a group of Nobel Laureates in which he stated that “the prime cause of cancer is the replacement of the respiration of oxygen (oxidation of sugar) in normal body cells by fermentation of sugar.”

Every cell must burn some sort of fuel to keep itself alive. Healthy cells have the option to burn sugar or fat. Cancer cells are dependent on sugar; their energy-producing process is completely different. What happens to a cancer cell when it can’t get any sugar? It dies. That should give us all something to think about with regard to cancer prevention and treatment. How much sugar do you eat? How much sugar do you allow your children to eat? There is enough sugar in one can of pop to feed a cancerous tumor for days. This is not an exaggeration. White sugar is an unnatural substance not found in nature and as such, it does a lot of damage to the body, but natural sugars in excess are not good for you either.

Another important difference between a healthy cell and a cancer cell is in how they function. Each organ has a job to do in the body, and it is the individual cells in those organs that do the work. Healthy cells in your liver do the work of liver cells; healthy cells in your kidneys do the work of kidney cells and so on. Cancer cells, however, can only do two jobs, neither of which supports the function of the organ they live in. Cancer cells can make enough energy for themselves to live on and they can reproduce – that’s it. They have lost their ability to do any of the specialized work associated with the tissue type they are meant to be a working part of.

The third difference between cancer cells and normal ones is in how they are replaced. Normal cells live for a certain amount of time and then they are programmed to dismantle themselves, knowing they will be replaced by strong new healthy cells. While the normal process of cell replacement occurs in healthy bodies at the rate of about a million cells per second, cancerous cells just don’t die when they are supposed to. There are numerous ways a normal cell can decide it is time for replacement, but these mechanisms aren’t working in cancer cells. As new abnormal cells continue to replicate, the mass of non-functional cells becomes what we know as a tumor. As the mass enlarges, new blood vessels form to “feed” it and as it continues to grow, it becomes large enough to hinder the normal functions of the organ it lives in.

How do cancer cells form and why do they lose their original abilities?
A cancer cell can be created in your body in two basic ways. It can be born from the reproduction of an existing cancer cell or it can begin its life as a healthy cell and at some point incur such damage that it becomes a cancerous one. When a healthy cell is injured, it may be forced to simplify its form in order to survive – especially if its DNA is damaged. If a tornado hit your house and you were forced to rapidly rebuild a place to live out of nothing but what was left in the wake of the storm, your “new” house wouldn’t be as fancy or as functional as your old one. This would be even more true if the storm destroyed the blueprints and your books on how to build and repair things (DNA). So it is with a damaged cell. It has to repair fast in order to survive and because some local disaster caused the damage in the first place, resources are very limited. Really, that’s all a cancer cell is – a tiny part of you trying to survive when times are hard. It’s not so scary when you understand it that way. But what sort of disaster damaged the cell?

There are lots of ways to injure a healthy cell. As mentioned above, a lack of oxygen in the immediate environment of any cell is enough to cause the cell to change. If it can’t get oxygen, it must change or die. If it has time to choose, it chooses to change. There are a number of reasons a low oxygen environment can exist in any given area of the body. It’s more than just not breathing! Anything that hinders the distribution of nutrients or the removal of body wastes will reduce available oxygen. Lack of exercise, dehydration, and poor circulatory health are all hindrances to cellular oxygenation.

Cells can be damaged by chemicals that are part of our modern world but didn’t even exist a hundred years ago. Our bodies are not designed to take in the chemicals we now use to beautify our lawns, clean our houses, kill bugs, make our hair manageable, stop our noses from running, and turn our cake and ice cream red white and blue. It is vital to understand that anything – including drugs–your body can’t burn as fuel or use to build things it needs is toxic to your body – that is the true definition of poison. If the best you can do with it is to get rid of it quickly, it’s a poison. Even the plastic water bottles health-conscious folk carry around are contributing toxins to the already enormous load. The human liver works hard every minute of every day and night to rid us of these poisons, but with so many products used so heavily all around us every day, we have reached a saturation point in society that no one can truly keep up with. One result is an ever-increasing rate of cancer.

Starvation in the land of plenty?
Cells can also be damaged by what we don’t do. In this country, we don’t eat right. It’s vital to understand that every function of every cell requires specific nutrients – vitamins, minerals, proteins, phyto-nutrients, etc. – to make it happen. When we don’t provide those required nutrients, those functions don’t happen! When cells can’t do their jobs for a long time, tissues become damaged by lack of energy, accumulating waste, and an inability to repair. When tissues are damaged, cells languish in a hostile environment and disease sets in.

It’s like the development of a slum in the middle of an otherwise productive city. Everything looks good until you turn down that street… Suddenly you’re in a different world. Disrepair is evident and society is no longer functioning properly. The local economy is ruined. Trash accumulates. Rats are attracted to the debris. Every person (cell) is suffering from deprivation. This part of town is non-functional – stores are boarded up, transportation is hindered, even basic necessities like plumbing and electricity are not guaranteed. It’s hard to fix, and this is what happens when people, or your cells, don’t get what they need to survive and function. When people can’t do their jobs, towns fall apart. When cells can’t do their jobs, bodies fall apart.

Every street corner in America provides us another opportunity to buy food, yet the diet most people eat these days is radically deficient in nutrients. Many people feel that anything you can find in an American grocery store or restaurant is perfectly acceptable nutritious food, but nothing could be farther from the truth. The quantity of vitamins and minerals grocery store produce can provide per bite has been decreasing rapidly as chemical/factory farming has taken over the agricultural industry. The problem of deficiency is made even worse when you consider that people aren’t eating primarily fresh produce, but packaged processed food, which contains a large number of harmful ingredients and practically no nutrients at all. In many processed foods, nutrients have actually been purposefully removed and replaced, “enriched,” by harmful synthetic ones! Real food spoils on the shelf, synthetic processed food doesn’t.

Many school-aged children eat no vegetables or fresh fruits at all, unless you consider French fries a vegetable. School lunches are nutritionally void, and nutritional education has been hijacked by various agricultural special interest groups whose primary goal is selling product. It’s working. Children have never been so ill or so under-nourished as they are today. Rates of childhood obesity, diabetes, cancer, and even cardio-vascular disease are soaring. The Wall Street Journalrecently reported that a study conducted by IMS Health in 2009 showed that 25 percent of children in the U.S. were on regular medication. That’s not counting vaccinations, antibiotics, or other short-term prescriptions.

What about other causes?
We hear a lot about free-radicals causing damage that leads to cancer, but few people understand what they are or where they come from. Free radical damage can result from exposure to the thousands of toxic chemicals we come in contact with on a daily basis, but also from viruses, bacteria, and fungi. Radiation is another well-known cause – that includes mammograms, dental x-rays, and even cell phones, microwaves and other small appliances. How about chlorine and fluoride in the water supply, second-hand smoke, the over-the-counter cold medicine you took last winter, and the vaccinations you received as a child? All are sources of free-radical damage to your cells.

Free-radicals move rapidly, taking little chemical “bites” out of cell membranes. The damage causes inflammation and malfunction which produces a very unhealthy bio-chemical environment for your cells. Free radicals are not all bad, however. In fact, in small controlled numbers, they are necessary for many of the normal chemical reactions in the body. Like most everything else, the action of free radicals needs to be in balance in order to be beneficial rather than harmful. When free-radical activity arises in a controlled and balanced way in a healthy body, there is no problem. A healthy body has a sufficiency of anti-oxidants to keep this process balanced and keep damage in check. Anti-oxidants come only from a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables. Not only are most people consuming a grossly inadequate quantity of antioxidants, most people are consuming a gross excess of things that cause free-radical formation and free-radical damage.

In the body, everything is a matter of balance. If you are walking in the park and a rogue bee comes after you, you will probably be able to fend it off pretty easily. Even if it stings you, it probably isn’t that big a problem. If you kick over the hive, however, and 2000 angry bees attack all at once, that’s an extraordinary and life-threatening situation. So it is with free radicals. A few are no big deal, too many are a major threat. The things we've created in the modern world which are so far from nature – chemicals, radiation sources, etc. – are like kicking over the free-radical beehive.

How about hormones?
Hormonal imbalances can also perpetuate and facilitate the growth of existing cancer. Some hormones are called “anabolic,” which means they encourage tissue to grow. Estrogen is one example of an anabolic hormone – not a good thing for a cancer cell to be exposed to. Estrogen is not just a female hormone – men have it too. Plants, such as soybeans, make phyto-estrogens. These end up in lots of strange places, including baby formula where its concentrations can be equivalent to giving multiple birth control pills to our babies every day. As adults, we may take estrogens to avoid pregnancy or hot flashes. We are also exposed to xeno-estrogens which come from plastic water bottles and other containers. We also have hormones used in agriculture to produce abnormally large chicken breasts and unusually large amounts of milk. Because these hormones accumulate in the tissues of the animals, when we eat the meat or drink the milk we are also consuming the hormones that were administered to those animals. All of these excess hormones encourage cancer growth in our bodies and need to be avoided.

To give you perspective on the power of hormones, consider that every bodily function you will ever experience right down to the blinking of an eye will be, in one way or another, governed by hormones. If you lived 100 years, all of the hormones your body produced wouldn’t fill a tablespoon and yet that tiny quantity is sufficient to see you through the requirements of daily life as well as the big challenges like childhood growth, puberty, having and nursing babies, and transitions through aging. It’s not a small matter to add extra hormones to a system so clearly in delicate balance.

What about genetically modified foods? (GM or GMO)
A relative newcomer on the scene, genetically modified (GM) crops have been shown to induce cancer and cause organ damage. If you want to know more about this, Seeds of Deception by Jeffrey M. Smith is an excellent resource. If you’d prefer to watch a movie, Seeds of Death is available on YouTube. Everyone has some level of exposure to GM foods by now. They are hidden in virtually all processed foods sold in America, and the corporations that profit from them are spending billions to keep us from labeling them. If GM foods were the boon to mankind they are proclaimed to be, don’t you think companies would be spending those billions to label them proudly and advertise them the way they normally do?

Ordinary table sugar is probably the most ubiquitous example of commonly eaten genetically modified food, closely followed by all forms of corn syrup. In the United States, unless they are labeled organic, ALL of these products are genetically modified. Every time you eat anything with sugar or corn syrup in it, unless each ingredient is listed as organic, you are eating genetically modified food. Less obvious GM products include soybeans and alfalfa, which are routinely fed to meat and dairy animals. Many other countries have banned these crops and the foods made from them; some governments hunt them down and burn them with more zeal than ours musters to eradicate marijuana.

One of the biggest problems with GMO foods is the chemicals used to produce them. Though corporations like to claim purely humanitarian reasons for genetically manipulating our food, the truth is that the primary purpose in most genetic engineering to produce crops that can withstand heavier applications of herbicide, specifically a product called Round-Up (glyphosate). That's why GMO corn and soy are also called "Round-Up Ready." This inbred resistance to chemicals allows farmers to use more chemicals which means more chemical sales and profits.

Glyphosate causes health problems because of how it works. It was originally designed and used as a de-scaling agent in industrial settings because it works spectacularly well at removing mineral deposits from equipment. It does this by causing the minerals to not bind chemically with anything else. This prevents minerals from being taken up by plants anywhere the glyphosate spills. Upon noticing this effect, the company began to change their marketing strategy and glyphosate became an agricultural product. If plants can't take up minerals and you eat plants to get minerals, you can see that food becomes nutritionally inferior when it is exposed to glyphosate; it's only logical. 

Another major issue with glyphosate-treated crops is that the chemical has the ability to kill not only weeds in the field, but also healthy bacteria in your gut. Glyphosate also functions as an antibiotic... If you don't have healthy bacteria in your gut, you are nearly defenseless against a broad range of infections, deficiencies, diseases of the gastro-intestinal tract, and more. For a thorough discussion of the effects of glyphosate, I would refer you to the excellent presentation given by Dr. Thierry Vrain at Trent University in Ontario. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yiU3Ndi6itk.

There is much media debate these days over whether GM crops "cause" cancer. This debate is a semantic issue - about words and loopholes and technicalities. Advocates, those who profit from, GM foods claim safety based on the idea that you can not prove that the genetic modification by itself directly and immediately causes cells to become cancerous. The truth is that whether or not genetically modified foods cause cancer directly or indirectly does not matter. The modification itself, the chemicals involved in production, the unhealthy agricultural practices, the nutritional deficiencies that result, the killing of the gut bacteria - all this goes together and it is not useful to consider any one of these problems in isolation from the others. The whole constellation of issues, taken together - as they must be, clearly and logically increases one's risk for cancer. Enough said.

With all this trouble, is there any hope?
Fortunately, when it comes to diseases – including cancer -we are not helpless! The body has a marvelously efficient system designed just to handle these problems. It’s called the immune system. It works so well that everyone on the planet eliminates cancer cells every day – and doesn’t even know it. The truth is that cancer cells are generated all the time in every body, but if your immune system is healthy and strong, you will kill those cells before they reproduce or cause any trouble at all. That’s perfectly normal! So why do some people “get cancer,” and why did the cancer develop where it did?

“Getting cancer” is a misnomer. Everyone, absolutely everyone, “has” cancer. Having a few cancer cells in your body is normal, but having a large detectable tumor is not. You could similarly and accurately say that everyone “has” bacteria, but not everyone has an infection. How does one “get” an infection? Getting an infection simply means that some of the bacteria in your body multiplied excessively and your immune system was not strong enough to overpower them immediately. The result is a detectable number of them producing unpleasant symptoms and reducing your body’s functionality. This is why we tend to get sick right after a period in which we have not eaten well, not slept well, or experienced some intense stress. We are weak. The same is true for cancer. Cancer cells multiply whenever your immune system is unable to keep up. This is why maintaining good health habits is so vitally important! It’s very dangerous to wait until you are sick to start trying to be well. We need to know how to stay strong!

Is cancer genetic?
Sometimes it is suggested that cancer is genetic and there is nothing much you can do to prevent it. This is simply not true in the vast majority of cases. We all have far more genes in our DNA libraries than we actually use. If one of your parents had blond hair and the other had black hair, you carry the genes for both - but you will not express both of those genetic traits. Even when there is a so-called “cancer gene” lurking in your library, you will not express it unless conditions in your body cause or allow cancer to form. Genes can be activated, and de-activated, by virtually every factor in your internal environment - factors such as toxicity, deficiency, and even lack of sleep! According to chronobiologist Simon Archer and researchers at the University of Surrey in the U.K., “just one week of mild sleep deprivation affects the function of 711 different genes.” There are thousands of phyto-chemicals in fresh fruits and vegetables that actually have the ability to influence gene expression. Even attitude and state of mind influence gene expression. We have tremendous ability to positively affect our own health – that’s exciting and encouraging!

While genetic weaknesses do not generally cause cancer, they do play a major role in determining where cancer will form if conditions become conducive for it. We all have our genetic weak links – a tissue or organ that is not as strong genetically as our other parts. Because they are genetically weaker, these tissues produce less energy, function less well, are less adept than their neighbors at capturing a large share of oxygen and nutritional resources from the bloodstream, and don’t get rid of toxins as readily as other tissues. This all adds up to increased risk for disease relative to other parts of the body.

When the immune system is not strong enough and the body is weakened, cancer cells have the opportunity to reproduce and get ahead of our immune systems. Just as many things can cause cancer, many things can weaken the immune system. In fact, the two lists are virtually identical. Excess toxicity in the body, nutritional deficiencies, radiation, infection, dehydration, lack of sleep, hormonal imbalance, excess stress, and a poor frame of mind all weaken the immune system and make us more susceptible to illnesses of all kinds, including cancer. It would not be inaccurate to say that cancer is the ultimate symptom of immune system dysfunction.

When we realize that disease has overtaken us, logically, we should be motivated to look for ways to strengthen the immune system to restore balance to the body. Unfortunately, once cancer has been identified, the conversation usually turns exclusively to chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation – all of which severely weaken the already struggling immune system.

Even in the healthiest body many non-cancerous cells would be damaged by chemotherapy and radiation – that’s why the side effects for the critically ill cancer patient are often life-threatening and frequently lead to permanent organ damage. The hair loss associated with chemotherapy and radiation is an obvious direct result of poisoning the body. The same effect is seen from other ingested poisons we no longer call therapy such as arsenic, lead, and mercury. I say “no longer” because there was a time not so long ago when mercury was the go-to therapy for nearly everything, Bayer bottled heroin as a cough suppressant, and “soothing syrup” for toddlers was made of morphine, heroin, opium, codeine, chloroform, and marijuana – sometimes all at once. Thankfully, we know better now…or do we?

What is chemotherapy and how does it work?
There are a number of commonly used chemotherapy drugs, but they all share a common goal – causing death or damage to cancer cells. Notice that the goal is not increasing health, but rather causing damage. Considering that weakness and deficiency caused the cancer, taking such an adversarial stance doesn’t necessarily seem productive since it does nothing to correct the problem and it creates a terrible frame of mind not at all conducive to healing. Most of the time, the damage chemotherapy is intended to cause occurs because the chemical interferes with the cell’s ability to reproduce. Here is a list of some of the most common classes of chemotherapy drugs and how they work, and comments on their various predictable side effects. This list was taken directly from the website: www.cancer.org:

Alkylating agents directly damage DNA.The risk of leukemia after getting alkylating agents is highest about 5 to 10 years after treatment.

Antimetabolites are a class of drugs that interfere with DNA and RNA growth. These agents damage cells during the S phase.

Platinumdrugs (cisplatin, carboplatin, and oxalaplatin) are sometimes grouped with alkylating agents because they kill cells in a similar way.

Anthracyclines are anti-tumor antibiotics that interfere with enzymes involved in DNA replication. These drugs work in all phases of the cell cycle. Treatment with topoisomerase II inhibitors increases the risk of a second cancer — acute myelogenous leukemia (AML). With this type of drug, a secondary leukemia can be seen as early as 2 to 3 years after the drug is given. 

Mitotic inhibitors can stop mitosis or inhibit enzymes from making proteins needed for cell reproduction. These drugs work during the M phase of the cell cycle but can damage cells in all phases.

As you can see, the conventional treatment of cancer is a complicated process because the drugs and radiation therapies used in treatment cause severe cellular damage – which, you may recall, is the primary cause of cancer in the first place. This is clearly a conflict in need of resolution. Additionally, chemotherapy and radiation treatments are not really very selective. They damage healthy cells, too – especially in the sickest of patients.

The best hope for a positive outcome from chemotherapy and radiation therapies depends on the idea that the weakest cells (cancer cells) will die first. The logical fact is that whatever factors were serious enough to cause cancer in one area of the body must also have had a damaging effect on the rest of the body as well. Toxicity from chemical exposure, for instance, weakens the entire body as does nutritional deficiency, hormonal imbalance, or infection.

Is surgery dangerous?
Surgery in the presence of cancer is a risky procedure. Even the biopsy techniques used to diagnose cancer are problematic. The body wants to survive. In its effort to do so, it tends to encapsulate dangerous things – including tumors – in a sort of protective covering that limits their access to the rest of the body. If your body isn’t strong enough to kill off all the cancer cells in a given area, it may imprison them in the hope that it will become strong enough to deal more permanently with them later. When we cut out tumors or breach their protective coverings with biopsy needles, we leave the jail unlocked. Cells can escape and be carried to other places in the body where they may set up new colonies. When this happens we say the cancer has metastasized and treatment becomes more difficult.

You may have the idea at this point that I am opposed to conventional medicine. That is not the case. There are situations in which conventional medicine is nothing short of heroic – but chronic disease just isn’t one of them. Treatment of traumatic injuries, birth defects, and burns are classic examples of the wonders modern medicine can work. In the 40+ years since President Nixon declared war on cancer, however, the mode of treating it has changed very little and the odds of surviving most forms of cancer have not changed much either despite many millions of dollars and lives lost in the pursuit of progress.

Many would argue that survival statistics do show improvement, but a thorough analysis reveals that the statistical calculation methods have changed far more than the actual survival rates. For example, the definition of survival or successful treatment is not really logical. You are counted as a survivor – a successful case - as long as you are still alive five years after your diagnosis – even if you die from the cancer at five years plus 1 day and spend all of those days and years suffering and fighting for your life. You are a “success” even if you are comatose on full life-support or are terminally dependent on dialysis. You are counted as having “responded” to therapy if you feel better or your tumor shrinks even for a few days before you get worse or even die. If this is success, I think I might rather fail!

Can you poison yourself healthy?
Can you ever take in so much poison that it stops making you sick and starts making you well? It is surely an indisputable truth that you cannot poison yourself into good health. If you are weakened by a deficiency of vitamin D, for example, you cannot correct that by taking lots of cough suppressant or antibiotics. A vitamin D deficiency can only be corrected by supplying vitamin D to your body. Vitamin D is well-documented as an anti-cancer nutrient and cancer patients are notoriously low in this important vitamin.

Iodine is another key nutrient that virtually every American is lacking. Iodine is taken up by every tissue in the body and it has the distinction of killing cancer cells on contact! You would think that this information would be shouted from the housetops, but it isn’t. Iodine also activates the thyroid gland which has a major impact on the functionality of the immune system. In Asian populations who eat traditional iodine-rich diets, cancer is nearly unheard of. These people get 50 milligrams or more of iodine on a daily basis. The government has declared however, that only about 45 micrograms (micrograms are far smaller than milligrams) are necessary so doctors don’t recommend iodine to their patients. The idea is that you get plenty from supplemented salt. The truth is that if you ate enough salt to get 50 mg of iodine daily it would kill you. While you do not need 50mg of supplemental iodine daily, 45mcg is nowhere near enough.

As mentioned before, many phyto-nutrients have the capacity to de-activate genes that predispose us to cancer formation, but our culture is steeped in the idea that only chemicals are powerful enough to fight disease – chemicals are “real” medicine. Everything else is considered weak. In light of the fact that no chemical can ever correct the deficiencies or remove the toxicities that actually cause disease, are these assumptions true? We should not be surprised that in a country where people are consuming less and less nutrient-dense food and more and more chemicals, disease is running rampant.

Why aren’t we addressing the problem?
No one develops cancer due to failure to consume chemotherapy chemicals. If lack of chemotherapy did not cause the cancer, supplying it cannot possibly reverse what did cause it. Even if chemotherapy kills the cancer cells, it also perpetuates the toxic environment that caused or allowed them to form. What happens when a cancer patient survives chemotherapy and then returns to the diet and lifestyle that caused or encouraged the cancer? It often comes back with a vengeance because the body is weaker than ever, the only surviving cancer cells are the roughest, toughest ones that have adapted to the chemicals, and now that treatment is over and the immune system is disabled, there is nothing to slow down cancer growth. Why are we not teaching cancer patients to strengthen their bodies through comprehensive diet and lifestyle rehabilitation?

But they “got it all”…
What about when we’re told that treatment has fully eradicated the cancer? There is none left; they “got it all”? There is no such thing as “getting it all” because cancer cells form every day even in perfectly healthy people – but in perfectly healthy people, the immune system kills them quickly and they cause no trouble. You always have cancer cells in your body. Everyone does; there are no exceptions. They can grow out of control at any time unless your immune system is strong enough to stop them. The only way to deal with cancer for a healthy lifetime is to create and maintain a strong immune system! A strong immune system can only be built by a healthy diet and lifestyle creating a healthy body. Period. No exceptions.

What happens when we try to lose weight? We try a new diet or exercise program and it works – as long as we keep doing it. When we stop the diet, stop the exercise, and return to our old couch-potato-junk-food-munching ways the weight comes right back again. Treatments that don’t last produce results that don’t last. Chemo and radiation can’t go on forever. Only healthy habits can last.

Imagine an impoverished city over-run by gangs of criminals. They murder and steal because they are starving and there is nothing else for them to do. Armed forces arrive and all of the criminals are executed. The armed forces leave. Nothing has changed. The remaining citizens are still living in dire poverty with terribly limited resources in a city now ravaged by war. What happens next? In a short period of time, more citizens will turn to a life of crime in an effort to survive and eventually the army will be called upon again to destroy them. What if instead of calling for the army, we gave these people tools and resources so they could do the jobs they were already trained to do? What if we empowered them to earn a living and behave like normal folk? Would they? If their only reason for crime was gang coercion or desperation, yes! Your cells are not criminals. They want to be upstanding citizens. It’s up to you to give them the tools and resources they can’t work without.

If diet and lifestyle changes were important, my oncologist would have told me…
Medical schools don’t train doctors in nutritional healing. Medical doctors who want to employ nutritional healing in their practices are on their own to learn how. In light of this fact, they can incur life-altering legal liability if they try something unconventional with you and it doesn’t work. Health insurance companies have very specific ideas about what constitutes “normal and responsible” care for any given medical condition. If your doctor doesn’t stick to protocol, the insurance company may not pay him and if things go badly and you sue him, he may lose. When your life and your doctor’s life are both on the line, he will not be likely to advise something that he isn’t extremely familiar with – it’s not that he doesn’t love you. Risk that you take for yourself feels very different than risk you take with someone else. It comes down to what you believe constitutes the greatest risk. You and your doctor may or may not agree on that. That’s ok.

Are there ways to address the root causes of cancer?
Yes! If you ask around, it isn’t hard to find people who have overcome cancer without chemotherapy, radiation or surgery simply by correcting the underlying problems that caused it. They are usually very happy to share their stories. What they all have in common is their willingness to own, understand, and address the real causes of their disease. In general, here are the things they changed in one way or another:

1. Attitude. They cultivated a strong belief in their own God-given ability to heal and took personal responsibility for their own care. They did not abdicate that role to the medical industry or any other. They also did not live by fear.
2. Nutritional status. They all recognized the deficiencies their prior dietary habits created. They changed their diets drastically to eliminate non-foods that actually increase toxicity and include an abundance of nutrient-dense foods that supply what the immune system needs to fight the battles and rebuild the body. This is a big one!
3. Toxicity. They all learned about the impact of toxicity and where it comes from, and they all took actions to reduce their toxicity levels as much as possible.
4. Stress. They addressed the major stress factors in their lives by putting limits on or eliminating things that caused them physical distress or mental/emotional turmoil. In some cases this included limiting contact with specific people or even a change in career. Some also practiced forgiveness, conflict resolution, and meditation strategies to reduce stress.
5. Exercise. Successful people recognized the necessity of exercise for good health and stress reduction.
6. Proper supplementation. It is important to include needed supplements, but it is also important to avoid synthetic chemical vitamins that do more harm than good.
7. Rest. Those who recover naturally do whatever it takes to get appropriate rest and good sleep.
8. Guidance. If you are dealing with cancer, you may not have time for extensive trial and error. Those who have won the battle with cancer naturally are generally happy to tell you about those who have provided guidance and support along the way. It is very important to find a qualified natural practitioner, such as a naturopathic doctor (ND), to help you find your path to wellness.

A few statistics.
There are no guarantees in natural medicine. There are no guarantees in conventional medicine either. In my personal life (clients excluded), there are 33 people I have significant knowledge of who were diagnosed with cancer. 22 chose conventional medical treatment and 11 chose alternative diet and lifestyle modification. Of the 11 who chose diet and lifestyle, 10 recovered their health and went on to live normal lives. The 11th died free of detectable cancer due to an obstruction that may have been caused by the cancer – she is an example of the need for conventional and alternative practitioners to start co-operating instead of competing.
Of the 22 who chose chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery, 11 have died. Of the other 11, 3 are true survivors and the other 8 are either in treatment now or just out of it so I can’t say whether they will be success stories or not. Two of them are in very poor condition as I write this, so I fear the worst for them.
To sum up, of those who chose to address their cancer problem naturally, 91% were successful by the medical standard of five years free of detectable cancer. By the same standard, of those who chose chemotherapy only 21% were successful.

What success means to me:
Thankfully, one of the success stories was my own grandmother. She was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer at the age of 86. Her tumor was large. At the time of her diagnosis, she was given a life expectancy of three months. Since the oncologist was uncertain of her ability to survive surgery or chemotherapy and indicated that these treatments would only prolong her life by a few unhappy months, she chose to see a naturopathic doctor and address the real causes of her disease. Having been a registered nurse for many years, this was a difficult decision for her. Six months and a total lifestyle transformation later, her cancerous tumor was gone.
As she went through her six months of “treatment” she consistently felt better and better. Her energy level steadily improved, her age spots disappeared, she lost excess weight, and her hair became thicker and shinier. She was constantly complemented on how she looked and she thoroughly enjoyed it. She felt better some days than others, but the only significant complication she experienced was the need of an entirely new wardrobe, more than once, for which my grandfather was delighted to help her shop. She lived 7 more happy years taking care of her family and her house and crossed over from this life to the next at the age of 93 – still free of detectable cancer.

She was able to accomplish this in part because she never abandoned the new health habits she formed. Natural “treatment” is all about creating a new lifestyle that you can maintain and which will maintain you for a lifetime.

Take your time, and ask questions.
Sometimes people feel they don’t have time to think, let alone pursue health naturally. My grandmother was given only three months to live and the naturopathic doctor we chose could not even see her for six weeks – he was booked! Considering her outcome, I believe there is most always at least a little time to think. Cancer doesn’t happen overnight, and it doesn’t accelerate just because someone finds out about it. Most tumors take ten years or more to reach detectable size. You are not in significantly more danger the day after your diagnosis than you were the day before it when you felt fine and you weren't afraid. Don’t panic, and don’t let the people around you panic. Unless yours is a very unusual case, it is safe to take a few days to process your own thoughts. Stay in charge of your life.

The statistics I have compiled have done nothing to increase my faith in poison and radiation to cure disease, but much to increase my faith in nature and the God who designed and created it for our benefit. I write this not as medical advice, but to inspire faith, stimulate analytical thought, and thereby help end needless suffering. I believe that a good question can be one of the most powerful tools in this world. The only advice I give is this: If something doesn’t make sense to you, think it through. If you have questions, ask!

Jana (Fortner) Scott, ND

What Everyone Needs to Know About Cancer