Functional Medicine Symposium Clinical Pearls: Confronting Cancer As A Chronic Disease – Part 1

Holistic Health and NutritionI would like to share some of my takeaways from the recent symposium titled “Confronting Cancer as a Chronic Disease” from the holistic health perspective.  One of the reasons I attend scientific symposiums is to gather holistic health and nutrition facts to share with my patients and readers of my blog, newsletters and articles.  In particular, I look for holistic health and nutrition information that empowers people to make healthier choices and improve their lifestyle.

Here are some clinical pearls from the 2010 Institute for Functional Medicine Scientific Symposium.  Each section begins with the name of the doctor the statements are attributed to.

Jeff Bland, PhD, FACN, CNS

  • A lowering of cholesterol for no apparent reason may indicate cancer, because cancer cells take up a lot of cholesterol to make cell membranes and other cellular structures.
  • Elevated vitamin B12 in the blood is also seen in people with cancer.
  • Gluten sensitivity causes increased lymphoma risk and dementia risk.
  • Cancer is a chronic disease.  Cancer should be managed and monitored continually, like we do with hypertension and other chronic diseases.
  • For adult cancers, the delay between initiation and progression to cancer is 15-20 years.
  • Folate deficiency may help cancer initiation or progression.
  • Oncogenic potential refers to the environment in the person’s body that is conducive to cancer growth and spread.  Factors that increase oncogenic potential: High insulin levels, chronic inflammation, oxidative stress,low oxygen levels to tissues (hypoxia), nutrient inadequacies affecting DNA (genomic instability).
  • Chronic inflammation is associated with 1/5 of all human cancers.
  • Folate supplementation can decrease cervical dysplasia and pre-cancerous cells in saliva (atypical nuclei in sputum) from smoking.
  • Insulin resistance, diabetes, and obesity are related to breast cancer, especially postmenopausally, and may be related to colon cancer.
  • Insulin is a tumor promoter.  High insulin levels (aka hyperinsulinemia) may lead to cancer through insulin’s effect on its receptor and the insulin‐like growth factor system. The effects of insulin and insulin‐like growth factor 1 on cancer development and progression have been demonstrated in both animal and human studies.
  • Indole-3-Carbinol (I3C) may lower breast and cervical cancer risk.
  • I3C may also help men with Benign Prostatic Hypertrophy (BPH) and high Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA)

Dean Ornish, MD

  • Lifestyle changes should focus on enjoying life more, not preventing death or sickness.  Nobody wants to give anything up unless they are getting something better in return – and quickly.
  • Good lifestyle increases blood flow to brain, skin, sex organs, whereas smoking and other poor lifestyle choices do the opposite.
  • Brains actually add neurons and get bigger in response to good eating and exercise, whereas eating poorly decreases regeneration of neurons (neurogenesis).
  • Lifestyle change is dose-dependent: the more people changed, the better they got (regardless of age, baseline, etc.)

Gina Solomon MD, MPH

  • Most women who get breast cancer have no risk factors, but the environmental factors are really all related to lifetime exposure to estrogen.
  • Many chemicals act as estrogen mimics including plastics, such as bisphenol A (used in lining cans and hard plastics), alkylphenols, some phthalates (plastic softener used in vinyl and PVC plastics)

If you liked this post, I’ll be posting more holistic health updates like this that focus on Functional Medicine, Nutrition and Healthy Aging.

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