Naturopathic Support for Breast Cancer
In Canada, 25, 000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer every year – that’s about 68 women every day. The good news is that due to earlier detection and improved treatments, deaths from breast cancer are steadily declining, with the overall 5-year survival rate sitting at 88%. While there is a need for more research into the role of naturopathic medicine in breast cancer treatment, many natural compounds are gaining recognition for either their cytotoxic (cancer-killing) activity or their benefit in decreasing side effects of chemotherapy or radiation – or both!
A powerful antioxidant, melatonin is the hormone your body produces to fall asleep. Used in high doses, melatonin has been shown to inhibit VEGF in breast cancer cell lines.1 VEGF is a chemical messenger that promotes new blood vessel growth. Because solid tumors depend on this new blood vessel growth in order to expand, melatonin may inhibit the rate of tumor growth. It has also been shown to prevent taxane drug-induced neuropathy – the painful tingling and burning or numbness in the hands and feet caused by some chemotherapies.2 One of the most fascinating roles of melatonin may be as a radiosensitizer – it appears to sensitize cancer cells to radiation therapy by downregulating DNA repair mechanisms in those cells, allowing radiation to be more effective.3
Dozens of studies point to green tea’s role in preventing cancer occurrence, but what about during cancer treatment? Using a potent extract of green tea in capsule form may inhibit VEGF, a chemical messenger that promotes new blood vessel growth in tumors.4 It may also prevent resistance to chemotherapy drugs like Trastuzumab in certain breast cancers, thus allowing the drugs to work better over a longer period of time.5
This is the active component in the spice turmeric, and a potent antioxidant. Though current research is in mouse models, the use of curcumin appears to prevent metastasis of breast cancer cells to the lungs.6 As the majority of cancer patients die from metastatic disease, not breast cancer itself, preventing this process is of utmost importance. Curcumin is also a powerful anti-inflammatory, and can effectively treat the aches and pains associated with undergoing cancer treatment.
Coriolus versicolor is a medicinal mushroom with a wide range of immune-boosting benefits. Studies have been done specifically with breast cancer patients using Coriolus after chemotherapy treatment, where it was found to increase white blood cell counts and improve energy faster than those not using the mushroom.7 Using Coriolus can help you in recovery and get you back to feeling like yourself!
If you or someone you know has questions about naturopathic cancer care, book a free 15-minute consultation with me today!
Dr. Aleksandra Gasinski, ND
1. Virginia Alvarez-García, Alicia González et al. Regulation of vascular endothelial growth factor by melatonin in human breast cancer cells. Journal of Pineal Research. 2013;54(4):373–380.
2. Z. Nahleh, J. pruemer, J. Lafollette and S. Sweany. Melatonin, a promising Role in Taxane-Related neuropathy. Clinical Medicine Insights: Oncology. 2010. 4:35–41.
3. Alonso Gonzalez C, et al. Melatonin sensitizes human breast cancer cells to ionizing radiation by downregulating proteins involved in double-strand DNA break repair. Journal of Pineal Research. 2015;58(2): 189-197.
4. Maryam R. Sartippour, Zhi-Ming Shao et al. Green Tea Inhibits Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF) Induction in Human Breast Cancer Cells. J Nutr. 2002;132(8):2307-2311.
5. Sean F. Eddy, Susan E. Kane, and Gail E. Sonenshein. Trastuzumab-Resistant HER2-Driven Breast Cancer Cells Are Sensitive to Epigallocatechin-3 Gallate. Cancer Res. 2007;67(19):9018–23.
6. Bharat B. Aggarwal, Shishir Shishodia, Yasunari Takada, et al. Curcumin suppresses the paclitaxel-induced nuclear factor-kB pathway in breast cancer cells and inhibits lung metastasis of human breast cancer in nude mice. Clin Cancer Res. 2005;11(20):7490-8.
7. Chun-Kwok Wong et al. Immunomodulatory Activities of Yunzhi and Danshen in Post-treatment Breast Cancer Patients. Am. J. Chin. Med. 2005;33:381.