Are You Treating Your Cancer Naturally? We Need to Talk

Are you exclusively using natural treatments for your cancer?  Have you shunned conventional therapies out of concern for potential side effects? If so, we need to talk.

You have probably read that surgery spreads cancer, radiation causes cancer, and chemotherapy will kill you. While these statements are not 100% false, they are exaggerations. The risk of surgery spreading cancer is essentially non-existent, and far less than your chances of being struck by lightning multiple times. Very high levels of radiation can cause cancer, but receiving radiation therapy is far safer today than it used to be, and the doses used are much less than were previously used. And chemotherapy at very high doses can kill you, but we have ways to use it so that the side effects are almost non-existent.

Nonetheless, these treatments are far from perfect, and concerns regarding side effects and long-term damage are reasons why you might have decided to use a natural approach to treat your cancer. Or perhaps you have that voice inside your head, telling you that there has to be a better way. You’re questioning the status quo, and that’s good! And there is a better way.

If you consult Dr. Google, you will quickly see that there are numerous natural cancer cures. One study which made its rounds on social media included the headline, “Frankincense kills cancer better than chemotherapy.” The article stated rather confidently that frankincense outperformed chemotherapy, has no side effects, reduces inflammation, and also decreases pain. All while being completely natural, and relatively inexpensive. Sounds perfect, right? Not surprisingly, it was shared hundreds of thousands of times on social media.Did you read the study? I did. It was a lab study, testing ovarian cancer cells in vitro; in other words, in a petri dish. While it might sound exciting that frankincense killed these cancer cells, many substances have been found to kill cancer cells in a petri dish. Bleach kills cancer in a petri dish too, yet we wouldn’t want to ingest bleach to treat our cancer!

When substances are shown to kill cancer in a petri dish, there are still many steps which must be taken to evaluate whether or not that substance can safely and effectively kill cancer in vivo – inside the human body. Studies on lab animals are the next logical step to further evaluate frankincense, and only a very small portion of substances which show promise in a petri dish are found to be effective in lab animals. If a substance is found to be both safe and effective in lab animals, human studies will then take place. Many substances which showed promise in lab animals fail to have a similar effect in humans.

As promising as lab studies might sound, the truth of the matter is that the results from lab testing are unlikely to be replicated in human studies. These treatment failures happen every day in labs throughout the world. The next big discovery might seem promising in a petri dish or in a lab mouse, but chances are good that it will be found to be unsafe and/or ineffective in humans.

I know what you are probably thinking: what about the people I have read about online who told their oncologist to shove it, who rejected those nasty conventional treatments, and instead successfully treated their cancer using only natural methods? The answer lies in the details:

  • Did they actually have a cancer diagnosis?
  • What treatments had they previously tried?
  • Did they have baseline testing before starting the all-natural protocol, including lab testing and imaging?
  • Which treatment(s) did they use which supposedly cured their cancer?
  • Which lab tests or imaging tests were used to document their cure?
  • How long have they been cancer free?
  • Are they still alive today?

Sadly, these details never seem to accompany that online testimonial. The viewer is left trusting that the diagnosis was real, the treatments were real, and that the cancer’s absence is real. That is a huge leap of faith to be taking!

Overwhelmingly, evidence suggests that patients who attempt to treat their cancer with only natural remedies experience very poor results. A study published by Yale University sought to examine treatment outcomes from the exclusive use of alternative therapies, and found that this approach results in a significantly lower survival rate. (1) The study found that patients who chose to forgo conventional treatment, and instead incorporated only alternative treatments, were as much as 5 times more likely to be dead in five years compared to those who used conventional cancer treatments. Unfortunately, my personal experience as a physician largely backs up what these researchers found. However, it is important to note that this study did not examine specific alternative therapies, which means that those in the study were likely using a wide range of alternative treatments.

For some, this might be a hard reality to face. After all, we want to believe that there are consistently reliable natural cancer cures out there. The idea that we can use natural treatments which are both effective and safe, with little to no side effects, to exclusively treat cancer and obtain never-before-seen results sounds amazing. My hope is that we will get there one day, but unfortunately, we are not there yet.

The cure for cancer is not found in any one supplement, nutrition strategy, or alternative therapy. Electing to treat cancer using only a natural approach is analogous to counting on a lottery ticket to make you rich. You might be one of the few people who wins, but chances are, you will lose. If you truly want to be rich, you are much more likely to get there using strategies and tactics used by those who have already made it. When it comes to cancer, that means that you will need to incorporate some conventional therapies such as surgery and chemotherapy.

For the record, I am not discounting the positive role that nutrition, supplementation, and other alternative therapies can have for cancer treatment. In fact, I incorporate them into all of my treatment protocols. Anyone who tells you that nutrition doesn’t matter, or that supplements are a waste of time, is not familiar with the scientific research that’s out there. However, anyone who tells you that you stand a good chance of curing your cancer with only natural therapies is also unfamiliar with the research. We don’t currently have any substantial research showing that cancer is consistently cured – or even helped – by an exclusively natural approach. That is the cold, hard truth.

So what are we to do? We use an integrative approach, combining conventional, modern medicine with natural, alternative medicine. We do this in a way which is personalized for each patient, encompassing a “best of both worlds” approach. We employ open-minded skepticism, with a willingness to use any and all therapies at our disposal provided that there is a scientific basis for their safety and efficacy. What’s not to like?

Otherwise, you’re taking a huge gamble with your life.

References:

1. Johnson SB, Park HS, Gross CP, et al. Use of alternative medicine for cancer and its impact on survival. J Natl Cancer Inst 2018; 110(1): 121-24.