My old buddy Derwood was diagnosed with glioblastoma in December. This is a most pernicious form of cancer in the brain.
My first thought was to turn to Patrick Quillin, Ph.D., who wrote a fine book, Beating Cancer with Nutrition (Nutrition Times Press, 2001), and a nutrition science feature for us a few years ago on the concept that cancer's main meal is sugar – in all its myriad forms. These final five words are important because when I talked to Derwood about the concept, the first thing he said was, "No more candy?" But as any aficionado of the glycemic index will tell you, white rice or a plain bagel is about as bad as a Butterfinger.
My next thought was vitamin C. Not 500mg capsules. I'm talking intravenous, 50g – 50,000mg – mainlined, twice a week. A Pub Med search found that an IV of vitamin C "especially before chemo" is a useful adjunct to chemo and radiation.
Turns out, lots of anecdotes and a few studies have validated vitamin C as a useful adjunct. And also, technology marches on, and a liposomal vitamin C – vitamin C enrobed in a phospholipid goo – has come on the market with almost 100 percent absorption, many times higher than regular C pills, and without the inevitable GI upset that hits when you take too large a dose. Liposomal C pioneer Thomas Levy, MD, says that 5 or 6g/day of liposomal vitamin C, especially right before your IV treatment, has great effects because the phospholipids help shuttle the IV C from your bloodstream to the cells in tissues where it is ultimately needed.
In addition, research out of Belgium makes the case for the prebiotics inulin and oligosaccharides as other useful cancer treatment adjuvants. There's more – research validates berberine as increasing the benefit of chemo and radiation. Specific to glioblastoma cells, vitamins K3 and D3 have been shown to inhibit their growth or outright kill the cancer cells, while vitamin E enhances chemo and makes cells more uneasy about radiation.
Now, there are two written rules about the natural health conceit. One is that nothing natural can "treat, cure or prevent any disease." The second is that, above all else, don't even think about hinting that your natural bioactive can in any way address the most dread disease of all – cancer. Allopathic MDs, of course, follow suit.
But once you get away from product labels, there's a raft of information floating around the Internet – based on published though unheralded research – showing that good nutrition can help to prevent (that word!) cancer from arising in the first place.
Prevention is sporting, obviously. But what is one to do when that cancer gene gets turned on anyway and you get stuck with the booby prize – the "C" word?
Turns out nutrition can help to treat and cure after all. (Note to the FDA: I used the weasel word "help" – I'm good, right?)
By the time you read this, I will have returned from seeing Derwood at his home in the hills and hollows of Pennsylvania. If his left-wing-healing-modality old friend (yours truly) is able to successfully prevail upon him, I’ll not only go grocery shopping at his local natural foods store, but I'll also take him to get some vitamin C intravenously.
One of these days, the medical establishment will embrace the spirit of Linus Pauling. The FDA shouldn't be far behind.
Letter From the Editor: Functional Ingredients, February 2011