Once a cancer is in remission, we breathe a sigh of relief. Patients are able to move on with their lives and try to put the diagnosis and treatments behind them. As a Naturopath practicing integrative cancer therapy, I often get the question “how do I prevent a recurrence?”
Within a tumor there are courier stem cells. Long-term effects of chemotherapy and radiation often strengthen these cells. These stem cells can travel through our circulatory system and potentially congregate to set up a new home if enough come together. Traditional therapy can also create a tumor microenvironment that allows for this new growth. Several scientific studies have demonstrated this process.
How can a naturopath utilizing integrative cancer therapies help prevent such situations?
Dietary changes are at the top of the priority list. For example, consuming higher levels of EPA and DHA, the fatty acids found in fish, reduce breast cancer recurrence by 25 percent. Caloric restriction, intermittent fasting and ketogenic diet have also shown to decrease the triggering of cancer stem cells and the tumor microenvironment. Physical activity is another key point. Studies show a decreased risk of recurrence in breast cancer by 40 to 50 percent, a 31 percent lower risk of dying from colon cancer, and a 61 percent lower risk of dying from prostate cancer with three hours of moderate activity per week.
Many of the same supplements and intravenous therapies that have been utilized to treat the cancer can be used to decrease the risk of recurrences.