Dr Byers, supplements and increased cancer risk – Same turgid old stuff.

It seems every five years or so, someone is appointed to jump up and warn us all about Vitamin Supplements and their dangers.

This time Dr Byers got the short straw.

The problem is that we’ve heard it all before, the same research, the same generalisations – and we know the answer.

Out comes the same one-off research study (following an indicative study) on beta-carotene and smoking. Then there is research on vitamin E which has little benefit and may even do harm.

Neither supplement would I touch anyway. Both mass market supplements in the main are deficient, synthetic copies of the real thing. In nature beta-carotene is available in cis- and trans- forms, but only one is used in the common supplement. Vitamin E is worse. Most studies involve synthetic alpha-tocopherol, just one of the eight variants found in nature. In my book it should not even be called vitamin E (it’s fraud).

Synthetic vitamins, for me, carry the same basic risks as synthetic drugs. Natural vitamin E is easy to come by. Put out a bowl of nuts and seeds – a handful of sunflower and pumpkin seeds will give you the four tocotrienol vitamin Es – shown to be much better than tocopherol in fighting cancer anyway.

Folate supplementation is, quite possibly, a threat to all these highly profitable cholesterol-lowering statin drugs, which are under soooo much pressure at the moment from leading heart specialists. They have been linked to a range of secondary illnesses from diabetes to eye sight problems; and research is now questioning whether they do lower death rates from heart attacks and strokes.

Folate, again, is a vitamin you should get from your diet – eat your greens!!!! If you are short you are in trouble. If you have a healthy microbiome (gut bacteria) and eat properly you will be fine; too much you might be in trouble. It has an RDA in ‘micrograms’ for that reason.

But what I love is the way the ‘research’ extrapolates a study on synthetic beta-carotene and smoking to warn the listeners on supplements in general. It would be like me saying that since one drug, Vioxx, killed 48,000 Americans and is now banned, people should be careful when using any drugs because their benefits are questionable and there is clear evidence of significant risks.

Mass market vitamin supplements have limited benefits, although Centrum produced a study a couple of years back showing their multivitamin reduced cancer risk by 7 per cent – this would extrapolate to 22,000 less people with cancer in the UK alone next year. In 2003, the French produced the Su Vi Max study which had followed 17,000 people on selenium and zinc, vitamins E and C and beta-carotene – that showed 31% fewer male cancers (but little change for women); and 37% less deaths overall from cancer over the study period.

I am much more interested in bioactive natural compounds such as vitamin D, curcumin, fish oils, sulforaphanes, CLA, MCP and another 60 with Epigenetic benefits. Now they are interesting. Even Dr Young S. Kim of the NCI in her research on foods that could stop cancer stem cells re-growing, said these could be taken as quality supplements.

Ok. It’s diary time. Which doctor, or preferably professor wants to author this same study on the risks of supplements in 2020?

I’ll have this Junk Science article ready to re-run then too.

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ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE

I was asked recently what I thought of ‘alternative medicine’. I replied as I have consistently done for a number of years, ‘There is no such thing as alternative medicine. A treatment either works or it doesn’t’.

If you talk to cancer patients and ask them what they want a treatment to do, it is simply to cure them.
Here I side with Dr. Henry Friedman of the Preston Robert Tisch Cancer Center at Duke University Medical Center, Carolina. He said, on the front page of the website, ‘I believe cancer can be cured; it may be in remission but it can be in remission permanently’. Brave words from a man who treats people with gliomas, which are often described as ‘terminal’.

So his aim is to get a patient into remission and, ideally, even cure them.

Talk to patients. Their aim is to be cured. It’s as simple as that. ‘Manage your cancer with drugs for the rest of your life, madam?’ ‘No thanks, I’d rather be cured.’

This fits with the way things are going for cancer patients too. In a 2012 report, the American Cancer Society concluded that since 2006 there had been an explosion in research into complementary therapies and that there was ‘overwhelming evidence’ that certain of them like diet and exercise could increase survival and even prevent a cancer returning.

Sounds like a result to me. And obviously to patients at large.

Which leads me to the fact that there is a humungous problem with cancer drugs. They don’t cure cancer. In 2012 it was proven beyond any reasonable doubt, that at the heart of all cancers lay cancer stem cells. An ‘inconvenient truth’ is that while drugs can cause a decrease in tumour size of 50, 60 or even 70%, as of today there is not one single drug known to man that kills off the cancer stem cells at the heart of the tumour.

But despite this, 54 per cent of people do beat cancer (or at least survive 5 years – which, I agree, is not really the same).

Cue Dr. Young S. Kim of the National Cancer Institute in America who concluded from her research in 2012, that people who employed a poor diet saw their cancers return. While people who employed a good diet – including foods that were high in sulphoraphanes, curcumin, piperine, EGCG, choline, genistein, vitamin A and E, and a couple of others – could prevent the cancer returning. She even went so far as to say that these bioactive compounds could be obtained via quality supplements.

The fact is, that very few patients nowadays rely on their oncologist’s medicines to cure a cancer. They may use them, but they employ a range of their own treatments from fasting, juice diets, colourful Mediterranean diets, yoga, IVC, weight control, even (perish the thought) localized hyperthermia, HIFU and the dreaded apricot kernels. Several women I know have used a herbal poultice called Black Salve. Oncologists treating the ladies both said the same thing.: Having confirmed that the ‘thing’ in the jar was indeed a tumour, they said they had never seen anything like it. But it was beyond their training and they could comment no more.

Of course not all these treatments have been through ‘The rigours of a clinical trial’. Actually, ‘rigourous trial’ when it comes to drugs is a bit of an oxymoron. Even the FDA has just concluded that almost 40% of drug clinical trials were sloppy and inaccurate. Worse, Peter Grotzsche, the head of the highly respected Nordic Cochrane Centre, has a book called ‘Deadly Medicines and Organised Crime: How Big Pharma has Corrupted Healthcare’. The title says it all. And it is the British Medical Association’s 2014 book of the year!!

Radiotherapy and surgery have hardly a clinical trial between them. Surgery, even biopsies, have been linked to increased metastatic activity. Cutting out a colorectal cancer is certainly no guarantee that the cancer won’t return in your lungs or liver.

Brachytherapy, used for prostate cancer is now used in some parts of America for up to 60% of breast cancers, meriting huge protests. Why? Errr, there are no clinical trials to support it. The new sexy Cyberknife will cause less damage – who says? Show me the proof. Does it prevent a cancer returning?

Meanwhile Hospitals feed the cancer with ice cream, sweet desserts and milky, sugary tea. The drink and snack food dispensers all offer chocolate bars, and cans of fizzy soft drinks full of High Fructose Corn Syrup. Leading cancer charities say there is no harm in feeding cancer patients cows’ dairy and sugar. They are out of their tiny minds. 2014 research showed sugar CAUSED cancer. 2013 research showed people with the highest blood sugar levels survived least.

And so it goes on.

A subplot over the last few years included research from Johns Hopkins that showed chemo drugs actually caused a cancer to return – and stronger; German research that showed Taxol caused metastases 6 months after treatment was finished and Scientists from Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts Amherst showed in research published in January 2015 that some chemotherapy drugs actually caused cancer stem cells to re-grow. Another ‘inconvenient truth’?

So, there are treatments that have the power to prevent a cancer returning. And there are others that don’t. Some may even make matters worse.

The ones that do keep cancers at bay – diet, exercise, quality supplements and a few others, are thus treatments that work. The others – chemo, radio and surgery are but unproven alternatives supported by dodgy research, vested interest, mafia-like unions, some paid skeptics and often simple fraud.

Patients are right to think of self-empowerment. Offering chemical potions that simply don’t give them what they want – preventing a cancer from returning – that’s just unproven alternative medicine.

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