Chemotherapy and Radiation

The American Cancer Society acknowledges that chemotherapy and radiotherapy are carcinogens and may increase risk for developing a second cancer, and that the risk is even higher when both therapies are given together.

by Dr. Andrew Dickens, NMD

Here is a reality that those of us who treat cancer know:  A cancerous tumor is not particularly dangerous unless it grows big enough to obstruct a nerve or an artery or some other significant body part.

It is the metastatic process that is dangerous. And that process is driven by cancer stem cells. Cancer stem cells are a small subpopulation of the cells in a tumor; they are undifferentiated cells that can turn into specific cells, even cancer cells, if the cancer calls upon them.

3 key things to keep in mind:

  • Tumor cells don’t metastasize.
  • Cancer stem cells metastasize.
  • Cancer stem cells are usually left untouched by standard by chemotherapy and radiation.

Problem #1: Standard cancer treatments do not address cancer stem cells.

Let’s look briefly at four more important issues with standard cancer treatments, information that is not typically shared with patients.

Problem #2:  Chemotherapy and radiation can actually cause cancer.

The American Cancer Society acknowledges that chemotherapy and radiotherapy are carcinogens and may increase risk for developing a second cancer, and that the risk is even higher when both therapies are given together.

A 2010 study led by researchers with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory shows one way this happens.[1] Researchers discovered that radiation exposure can alter the environment surrounding the cells so that future cells are more likely to become cancerous. Paul Yaswen, a cell biologist and breast cancer research specialist with Berkeley Lab’s Life Sciences Division, explained:

By getting normal cells to prematurely age and stop dividing, the radiation exposure created space for epigenetically altered cells that would otherwise have been filled by normal cells. In other words, the radiation promoted the growth of pre-cancerous cells by making the environment that surrounded the cells more hospitable to their continued growth … Our work shows that radiation can change the microenvironment of breast cells, and this in turn can allow the growth of abnormal cells with a long-lived phenotype that has a much greater potential to be cancerous.[2]

In 2012, researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center published findings that DNA damaging chemotherapy treatments coax fibroblasts (noncancerous cells that live in cancer’s neighborhood) to increase production of the protein WNT16B within the area of the tumor and that high levels of this protein enable the growth of cancer cells.[3]

The drugs used can also trigger cancer. Tamoxifen is a classic example. The World Health Organization declared Tamoxifen a carcinogen, yet it is prescribed for cancer prevention. Tamoxifen may cause cancer of the uterus, strokes, and blood clots in the lungs.[4] That’s why a lot of women’s health groups lobbied the FDA against it.

Problem #3:  The damage chemo drugs inflect on body organs.

Chemotherapy is designed to kill rapidly dividing cells. Cancer cells are rapidly dividing cells. But so too are the healthy cells in the intestinal tract and that is where an estimated 70 percent of the body’s immune system resides. Also, healthy cells that make blood are rapidly dividing cells; chemo patients experience decreased blood cell production which also weakens the immune system. The cells of the mucous membranes in our mouth, and hair follicles are rapidly dividing cells – also significantly impacted by chemotherapy. Traditionally-treated cancer patients typically have low red and white blood cell counts and elevated liver enzymes (because the main organ of detoxification is overwhelmed by the flood of toxic drugs).

Internal, collateral damage is why some in the profession joke that the hope is the chemo will kill the cancer before it kills the patient.

A 2018 study published in the American Journal of Physiology-Cell Physiology describes how chemotherapy can cause mitochondrial dysfunction in patients’ muscles. Researchers looked at drugs commonly used in breast cancer patients (doxorubicin and paclitaxel) and found that “patients showed evidence of muscle fiber atrophy and mitochondrial rarefaction, with reduced muscle fiber size tracking with reduced mitochondrial content and increased oxidant stress.” [5]

In other words, the drugs created dysfunctional mitochondria; they damage the energy “factories” inside cells, and that would explain the fatigue and weakness that many people experience with treatment. Eliminating oxidative stress and maximizing mitochondrial energy production are key to a healthy cancer recovery.

In recent years, the impact of chemotherapy drugs on the brain has come to the forefront – what is called “chemo brain.”

The American Society of Clinical Oncology says the most frequently described neurocognitive problems include difficulty with memory, learning, attention, concentration, information-processing speed, organization, and executive function.

“While many patients experience such deficits only temporarily during or immediately after chemotherapy, symptoms may persist in others, preventing a return to previous level of academic, occupational, or social activities.”[6]

A 2018 study out of UCLA found correlation among telomerase activity (an enzyme that helps maintain the health of cells), DNA damage, and cognitive function. The study showed that lower telomerase activity and more DNA damage were associated with worse cognitive performance.[7]

Problem #4: The lack of a war on sugar.

Dr. Otto Warburg won his first Nobel Prize in 1931 for his work demonstrating how cancer starts. He proved that cancer is caused by a lack of oxygen. Low oxygenation results from a buildup of toxins and carcinogens in and around the cells. In order to survive the low oxygen levels, the cancer cells switch over to a more primitive process called aerobic glycolysis. They begin fermenting sugar for energy. Hence the common phrase, “sugar feeds cancer.” In our opinion, any responsible treatment must teach patients how to starve cancer cells of their primary fuel, sugar (glucose).

Unfortunately, medical school does not teach doctors much about nutrition. And the powers that be in mainstream cancer groups have not wanted to take on the powerful sugar lobby, thus patients often are not told to cut out the sweets and starchy carbs.

Problem #5: Conflicts of interest that keep patients from getting the best information and treatment.

The Susan G. Komen Foundation, for example, has made headlines throughout the years for their practices. Where to start – there are so many examples. Let’s take just three:

  • “BMJ OpEd Says Komen Ads False.” The world’s largest breast cancer charity used misleading statistics and deceptive statements about mammography to promote breast cancer awareness and screening … the organization ignored a growing and accepted body of evidence showing that although screening may reduce a woman’s chance of dying from breast cancer by a small amount, it also causes major harms.[8]
  • In 2012, Komen partnered with the Coca Cola Company promoting FUZE tea. Ingredients list 31 grams of sugar, high fructose corn syrup (likely genetically modified), sucralose, and preservatives. Hardly a good recommendation for a cancer patient or anyone wanting to prevent cancer. Komen also partnered in 2010 with Kentucky Fried Chicken’s “Buckets for the Cure” campaign.
  • General Electric, the world’s leading maker of mammograms, is a long-term major corporate sponsor. Komen defends mammograms even though 50 years of scientific literature show that this type of screening does little to reduce breast cancer risk and screenings expose women to high levels of a known carcinogen – ionizing radiation.[9] Komen has never endorsed non-toxic thermography.

The company AstraZeneca, maker of the billion-dollar chemo drug Tamoxifen, is one of the largest contributors to “Breast Cancer Awareness Month.” It is also one of the world’s leading producers of pesticides.

The pharmaceutical industry is famous for misrepresenting the efficacy of their products. John Thomas, who holds a Master of Science in Public Health, explains:[10]

Conventional physicians want us to believe that there are only three treatments for cancer – surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. In fact, allopathic physicians have exclusively use these three approaches for the past 100 years with very little long-term success. Even though the US government admits that radiation and chemo both cause cancer, these therapies continue to be used with little concern about the new cancers that they cause.

The modern medical definition of “cure” is measured in a five-year period. The five-year period is a convenient number of years, because the cancers that will be created by exposure to radiation and chemotherapy begin to appear after 5 years. In this way, these secondary cancers can be called a new disease and not a recurrence of cancer.

When our fear is great enough, we will surrender our bodies and our lives to the modern healthcare system and say, ‘I don’t care what you do to me, just kill this cancer!’

And on it goes. The bodies pile up:

  • The 5-year survival rate for people with lung cancer is only 17 percent, although this number climbs to 54 percent if the disease is caught in its earliest stages; only 15 percent of cancers are found at this stage. If lung cancer spreads to a distant organ, the 5-year survival rate drops to 4 percent.
  • The overall survival rate for liver cancer is 17 percent. Most liver cancer is found after the disease has spread, but even for those whose tumor is found at an earlier stage, the survival rate is only 30 percent. If the cancer has spread, the survival rate drops to 11 percent.
  • More Americans will die of cancer in the next 18 months than have perished in two world wars, Korea, and Vietnam.

One last headline:  “Many modern cancer drugs are of very little benefit to patients, according to a group of leading European experts, who have devised a way to score them.” [11] This information came out in 2015:

“Prof. Richard Sullivan from Kings College London, a group member, said they wanted pharmaceutical companies and those who fund drug discovery to focus on inventing meaningful drugs that help patients, rather than just making profits.

He said: ‘Over the past decade, more and more medicines have been going on to the market with lower and lower levels of benefit.’

Not many medicines are being brought forward as potential cures, most are for palliative care. To get a licence [sic], the manufacturer only has to show that the drug has some effect. Sullivan said: ‘It is easier to get a marketing authorisation [sic] in palliative disease.’

Make no mistake – cancer screening and treatment is big business. It is estimated that almost half of us will get a cancer diagnosis in our lifetime. There is a lot of money to be made in keeping the status quo, meaning use of drugs with brutal side effects, and radiation.

Approaches that work in harmony with the body and factor in the patient’s long-term outcome are often ignored by the establishment. Jonathan V. Wright, MD, explained why to Ty Bollinger:

We have close to 100,000 references from scientific journals that tell us about the diet, vitamins, minerals, botanicals, natural energies and so forth and their influence on health. So don’t let anybody ever tell you that this isn’t scientific. There is tons of science, it’s just that nobody pays attention to it because it isn’t patentable. And if you can’t patent it, you can’t make big bucks. And I think we all know that the trend in – let’s call it regular medicine right now – is for the newest patented medicine to be more expensive, more expensive, more expensive. You cannot do that with unpatentable stuff. So that is why most medical doctors simply haven’t even heard of it. It’s not that they are ‘I hate Nature.’ It’s just that they do not know the science is there.

For more information on the effects of traditional cancer care, you may wish to read the following:

[1] Yaswen, P, Mukhopadhyay P, Costes S. Promotion of variant human mammary epithelial cell outgrowth by ionizing radiation: an agent-based model supported by in vitro studies. Breast Cancer Research. February 2010; 12: R11

[2] Press release. Study Raises New Concerns About Radiation and Breast Cancer. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), May 13, 2010

[3] https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120805144809.htm  Accessed November 2018

[4] https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a682414.html  Accessed November, 2018.

[5] Guigni B, Callahan DM et al. Skeletal muscle atrophy and dysfunction in breast cancer patients: role for chemotherapy-derived oxidant stress. Amer J of Physiology-Cell Physiology. November, 2018

[6] Dietrich Jorg. Cognitive Impairment in Patients with Cancer. The ASCO Post. October 15, 2012

[7] Chemotherapy, radiation cancer treatments may be linked to decline in cognitive performance.  UCLA Newsroom. November 26, 2018

[8] Woloshin S, Schwartz LM. How a charity oversells mammography. BMJ 2012; 345: e5132.

[9] Kalager M, Zelen M et al. Effect of screening mammography on breast-cancer mortality in Norway. NEJM. September 23, 2010;363:1203-10.

[10] https://healthimpactnews.com/2014/unapproved-but-effective-cancer-cures  Accessed November 2018

[11] Boseley S. Cancer drugs rankings suggest many are of little benefit to patients. The Guardian, May 30, 2015