The use of hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) has been approved for many health conditions such as, carbon monoxide poisoning, gangrene and injuries in which tissues are not getting enough oxygen. But, could HBOT help cancer patients in the healing process?
As humans we depend upon the consumption of oxygen all the time. The use of pure 100% oxygen in a high-pressure atmosphere (HBOT) has been shown to accelerate the healing process.
The hyperbaric chamber delivers pure 100% oxygen administered at pressures 1.5 – 3 times the normal atmospheric pressure with treatment times ranging from 60-90 minutes. Administering oxygen at higher pressures causes up to 20 times more oxygen to be absorbed by the blood and transferred to injured organs and tissues. This is extremely beneficial in healing and recovery time.
Any condition that results in inflammation in the body can benefit from HBOT as it delivers more O2 to damaged areas in the body and stimulates the healing process. In cancer, this is important because over time, cancer cells learn to adapt to poor-oxygen environments and they learn to proliferate and grow. At the molecular level, low-oxygen environments can cause genetic instability in a variety of genes leading to abnormal genetic replication resulting in more cancer cells. Administering 100% oxygen to damaged DNA cells like tumor cells can be beneficial in decreasing these harmful DNA replication patterns and also in strengthening the healthier tissues by promoting an environment for genetic stability.
Recent studies involving patients with solid tumors (including breast cancer, prostate cancer, colorectal cancer and gliomas) receiving radiation and chemotherapy show they have much longer survival times, reduced side effects and inhibitory effects on the tumor when using HBOT as a complimentary treatment. Interestingly, recent research has shown that HBOT serves as a chemo-sensitizer in cancer, which means that it increases the effectiveness of chemotherapeutic agents by creating an environment for these agents to better target and kill cancerous cells. Furthermore, just as HBOT increases chemo-sensitivity, it also serves as a radio-sensitizer by enhancing the effects of radiation therapy treatment. As an added benefit displayed by numerous studies on HBOT and wound healing, HBOT is an effective way to treat radiation wounds by providing oxygen to areas that are not being adequately perfused with blood. HBOT promotes vascularization of small capillaries, which provide blood to that given area and support the healing processed of damaged tissue.
HBOT is an acceptable complimentary treatment for cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy and radiation treatment. To learn more about HBOT and alternative cancer treatments, contact our office and make an appointment with one of our naturopathic doctors.