Commentary on the Widely Disseminated Article entitled “Dietary
Supplement Use During Chemotherapy and Survival Outcomes of Patients with
Breast Cancer Enrolled in a Cooperative Group Clinical Trial (SWOG SO221)”
Published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, December 2019
The DELCaP study, recently published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology evaluating
the use of dietary supplements during chemotherapy, has alarmed many patients
and raised troubling questions for health practitioners.
The purpose of the study was to evaluate associations between ‘antioxidant’ supplement
use and breast cancer outcomes in light of the widespread use of supplements
during cancer therapies and the ongoing debate over concerns that antioxidants
could reduce the cytotoxic effects of reactive oxygen species (ROS) generated
by chemotherapy agents. The authors claim that the use of dietary supplements
before and during chemotherapy is associated with an increased risk of
recurrence and, to a lesser extent, death.1
‘There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact.’ ~Sherlock Holmes
Over the past 30 years, gluten has become the number one
villain among foods. At one time, an allergy to gluten was rarely seen. Today,
almost 3 million people in the United States have celiac disease, a serious
immune reaction to the protein in wheat, barley, and rye. Another 18 million
people are thought to suffer from non-celiac gluten sensitivity, which causes symptoms
similar to celiac disease (including diarrhea, fatigue, and nausea) but does
not damage the lining of the small intestine.
“Success is never final, and failure is never fatal” -John Wooden
If you have recently been
diagnosed with advanced cancer or another serious life-threatening disease,
remember that everything you might think about it—positive or negative—is
merely an interpretation. You are the
one who decides how you will relate to the diagnosis.
My advice, based on my three
decades of working with people with serious illness, is simple. Do not limit
yourself by assuming that you or anyone else knows what the outcome will be.
The truth is that no one knows. Surrender to the unknown and focus your
attention on living your best life.
It is blessedly freeing to
accept what is in this moment,
without projecting into the future. Use your mind and heart to seek out and
consult with trained, experienced, well-respected professionals whom you trust.
And use the power of prayer to help guide you.
Enhancing Cellular Defense Mechanisms with Adaptogens
Aging is associated with a decrease in adaptive abilities along with increased vulnerability to stress. At the same time, aging is a complex process involving a persistent activation of some stress response systems, often involving transcriptional reprogramming, and the activation of vitagenes, which can be consider a ‘geroprotective’ adaptation.13Environmental stressors induce specific and predictable epigenetic changes that can eventually result in an adaptive response to the stimulus. It seems likely that mild stress-induced hormetic response involves mechanisms similar to those that underlie developmental epigenetic adaptations.
The illustration below shows the involvement of hormesis in the epigenetic processes that determine age-related disorders and longevity.14
Dose–response curve depicting the quantitative features of hormesis
Although it’s often said, “You are what you eat,” it’s more accurate to say, “You are what you absorb.” You may be eating a perfect diet and taking handfuls of supplements, but if you aren’t absorbing what you’re consuming, your body won’t have the raw materials needed for energy, maintenance, and repair. Without proper absorption and assimilation of nutrients, health problems inevitably arise.
One of my favorite botanicals for improving digestion and absorption is black pepper (Piper nigrum), which is the dried fruit of a flowering tropical vine. I find it interesting that black pepper plays such a prominent role in our cuisine, and that so many of us enjoy grinding fresh black pepper onto our food at the table. Along with adding flavor to our plate, we’re taking advantage (perhaps intuitively) of the health promoting benefits of this ancient spice, which include the ability to enhance the absorption of many of the medicinal nutrients in food. Although black pepper is well established in Western cuisine, the use of the spice originates in south India, where it has been appreciated for thousands of years not only for its culinary appeal, but also for its myriad health benefits.
When someone is confronted with a diagnosis of cancer, in the vast majority of cases doctors recommend surgery—often, as quickly as possible. The goal is to remove the cancer, with the hope that the person can go on to live a normal, cancer-free life. But unfortunately, the reality is often otherwise. For far too many people, cancer recurs; either at the primary site, or the cancer metastasizes, arising at sites distant from where the cancer originated, often in life-threatening areas, such as the lung, liver, brain, or bone.