In this post we are going to talk about the deadliest and one of the most dangerous diseases today – cancer. This article was originally published by Dr. Mark Hyman. He gets a lot of house calls, but this topic was very personal to him, because he have seen many cancer patients in his career, including people from his own family. A friend recently called him and asked him this very serious and important question – What would you do if you were diagnosed with cancer.
Well, how should we start? The conventional medicine protocols nowadays have a lot wrong when it comes to cancer treatment. All the medical experts and professionals are good at cutting it, burning it and poisoning it with surgical procedures, radiation, and drugs. But, here comes the most important part – many doctors fail to treat the cause of cancer! As you can see, the conventional medicine focuses on naming diseases based on geography, body location and specialty, instead of by the cause, mechanism or pathway involved. Almost every single doctor or medical expert in the world would say that you have liver, kidney, brain or heart disease. But, wait, this approach to naming disease tells you nothing about the cause, right?
So, every person in the world shouldn’t ask just what disease they have and what drug should be used to treat it. We need to ask this very simple and extremely important question – Why the disease has occurred and what are the main causes that lead to that specific illness? The conventional medicine and doctors approach the disease like a mechanic. They try to diagnose what’s wrong with your car by listening to the noises it makes and never looking inside to see what’s going on. But, the Functional Medicine allows us to look under the hood. The Functional Medicine provides us a simple method for identifying the conditions in which disease thrives and shows us how to begin changing those conditions.
A Functional Medicine Approach to Cancer
So, what’s the functional medicine approach? Well, the Functional Medicine empowers the patients and medicine practitioners to achieve the highest expression of health by working collaboratively to address the main causes of health conditions. It’s kind of emerging and personalized model of diagnosis and treatment that better addresses the need to prevent and manage chronic disease. We can easily that this is the medicine of WHY, not WHAT. The doctors and medical experts who practice Functional Medicine are like soil farmers. They are trying to create a healthy soil, so the pests can’t come and weeds can’t flourish. Disease can’t hold – is the actual meaning of a healthy soil.
As we mentioned before, we are going to talk about cancer in this post. So, when it comes to cancer, the Functional Medicine practitioner would say that we need radiation and other conventional methods. But, there is another important question we need to ask – What else can we do? How can we properly cultivate a healthy soil? We all know that cancer appears because of an imbalance in our organism. There are many people in the world, who walk around with tumors and don’t even know about it. But, here comes the good part. We can do something to prevent them from growing by maintaining a healthy soil.
This science points out that we need to practice a different way of thinking about diseases and illnesses, not just dividing everything into diseases and labels. Rather than divide the body into organs. Well, the Functional Medicine has a different type of approach. It approaches the disease as a systematic problem. So, in this way we need to treat the system – not the symptom. We need to think about the cause – not the disease. This method completely redefines the whole notion of disease. The entire landscape of illness is changing. The way we label cancer is completely wrong. It’s no longer synced up with what we know about the origins of cancer or the fact that two people who have cancer with the same name – like breast cancer. These people can have 2 completely different diseases and these diseases will require completely different treatments. So, think about it – just because you know the name of your disease doesn’t mean you know what’s wrong with you or what to do about it?
When be classify the tumors by body site: lung, liver, breast, colon, brain, prostate, etc. we actually miss the underlying causes, mechanisms and pathways involved in a particular cancer. And, what’s even more, it gives us no information about how it manifested in a given patient. If two different people have cancers in different parts of their bodies – they may have developed it for the same reasons. So, similarly – if two people have cancer developed in the same part of the body may have developed it for different reasons. A patient with prostate cancer and one with colon cancer may have more in common with each other, than two patients who have colon cancer.
Out best option is to look under the hood and find out what caused the disease. This should always be our question to begin with.
Cultivating a Healthy Soil
According to many different studies, scientists found that many different things can cause cancers. Things like diet, exercise, thoughts, feelings and environmental toxins all influence the initiation, growth and progression of cancer. An unhealthy and poor-nutrient diet full of sugar, lack of exercise, chronic stress, persistent pollutants, and heavy metals can cause cancer. So, here comes the million dollar question – could it be that a nutrient dense, plant-based diet, physical activity, changing thoughts and reactions to stress, and detoxification might treat the garden in which cancer grows? So, let me say this with other words – You need to treat the soil, not the plant. It’s a foundational principle of sustainable agriculture, and of sustainable health.
We all can boost our immune system and improve our immune function through dietary and lifestyle changes, as well as nutrient and phytonutrient therapies. We can improve and assist our body’s own detoxification system. It will promote better and improved elimination of carcinogenic and harmful toxins and compounds. We can also improve hormone metabolism and reduce the carcinogenic effect of too much insulin from our high sugar and refined carbohydrate diet. Sometimes, we can also affect how our genes are expressed by changing the inputs that control that expression. Things like diet, nutrients, phytonutrients, toxins, stress and other sources of inflammation can affect us. As we all can focus on less divisive and more generative thoughts that, in turn, create more uplifting emotions. These are all good fertilizers for the soil in the garden of our body.
Five Strategies to Reduce Cancer Formation and Growth
As we mentioned before, cancer usually appears from an imbalance in our organism where the immune system can’t fight off tumors. We all can do many things to prevent that cancer from getting to its full stage, and if you have cancer, you can make your body unfriendly to that cancer.
- Ditch Sugar
You may know, but for those who don’t know – cancer cells feed on sugar and it is main reason for developing health condition – diabesity. Average American adult consumes about 152 lbs of sugar every year and about 146 lbs of flour every year. Diabesity affects more than 1.7 billion people in the whole world. The medical experts conservatively estimate that it will affect one in two Americans by 2020. And 90% of them won’t be diagnosed. So, the best thing you can do to prevent or control cancer growth is to control insulin levels with a high-fiber diet rich in real, fresh, whole foods and minimize or eliminate sugary, processed and insulin raising foods. The famous Dr. Dean Ornish found that after just 3 months on an intensive lifestyle program including a whole foods, plant-based diet, over 500 genes that regulate cancer were beneficially affected, either turning off the cancer-causing genes or turning on the cancer-protective genes. And, we can easily say that no medication can do that.
- Eliminate food sensitivities
According to a major study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers found that the hidden gluten sensitivity wash shown to increase risk of death by 35 to 75%, mostly by causing heart disease and cancer. More than 20 million people in the United States are at risk for heart attack, obesity, cancer and death, all cause of this mechanism. The dairy and the gluten products are the most common causes of food allergies that are linked to insulin resistance. Cutting them out of the diet allows the inflamed gut and an inflamed body to heal.
- Reduce inflammation
Well, inflammation is the most common thread, related to many different chronic diseases and illnesses, including cancer. Many, out-of-control, inflammations can cause insulin resistance, and we all know that this is the main factor in all these diseases from autoimmunity and allergy. The insulin resistance then creates even more inflammation, and the whole biological house burns down. So, as we said – try to remove sugar and food sensitivities like gluten and dairy from your diet, and eat plenty of anti-inflammatory foods, including omega-3 rich foods, like wild fish and flaxseeds.
- Improve gut health
In most cases, cancer usually originates in your gut. And we are not just talking about colon cancer, but with many cancers. Many medical experts are studying the gut micro biome and breast and prostate cancers. As we mentioned, you should avoid inflammatory foods, but you should add probiotics, prebiotics and lots of phytonutrients, like curcumin (found in turmeric) and Rasveratrol (found in grapes). They all can reduce gut-based inflammation.
- Reduce toxic exposure
The newborn babies have almost 287 chemicals in their umbilical cord blood, 217 of which are neurotoxic (poisonous to nerves or nerve cells). The infants are exposed to many harmful chemicals, such as: pesticides, phthalates, bisphenol A, flame retardants, and heavy metals such as mercury, lead, and arsenic. All these harmful chemicals have a broad range of negative effects on the human organism. They can damage the nervous system and increase the risk of cancer. And right now, medical experts have found that these chemicals are related with obesity as well. So, going green and clean means becoming more aware about how environmental toxins affect your body. You should most definitely visit the EWG site to learn more about this.
Change your thoughts to change your immune system
Well, this type of strategy and thinking is often overlooked, but it’s also extremely important as the other strategies mentioned before in this post. Many scientists and medical experts proved that the way we live, the quality of our relationships, the food we eat and how we use our bodies can determine more than our genes ever will. So, we can also add that there are also many other strategies to combat or prevent cancer: getting sufficient sleep, control your stress levels and exercise regularly. The most important thing for you is to find out what’s the best for you and to find a way to stick with this method. Well, that might involve working with a Functional Medicine doctor or a chronic disease specialist as well.
So, what’s the bottom line – it doesn’t matter if you are diagnosed with cancer, or you become concerned about family and friends being diagnoses. The most important thing is to stay positive and not playing into fear. We all really hope that one day there will be miracle cure for cancer, but until that day we need to know how to prevent and fight against cancer. We all need to keep our quality of life high, while our immune system is fighting the cancer cells.
The entire science, related with cancer genetics is changing. If two different people have the same cancer, this means that it could be completely different in terms how the cancer performs. This is why we are all excited to see how Dr. Patrick Soon Shiong is working in California on the cancer genome. Dr. Patrick is creating targeted therapies to treat cancer in every patient individually. Well, this, alongside with the Functional Medicine approach to cancer, gives us great hope about the ability to prevent and fight cancer in the future. We all know that this disease is scary and dangerous, but there is always a choice. We can always do something to improve our condition. We highly encourage you to think about cancer differently and the most important thing is – always have hope!
A lot of people in the world have experience cancer, and many of them will read this article. They have experienced cancer – either personally or with family and friends. Tell us – did a particular dietary or lifestyle strategy help you in this situation? Please share your story below, in the comments section. We really hope you enjoyed this post and please share it with your friends and family. Thanks.