Immune Boost For Cancer

Words: Dr Richard FIRSHEIN

Your daily mood isn’t all in your head; it also affects your physical health. Research shows that depression and resistance to disease are strongly linked. That’s particularly significant when battling an illness like, cancer, since having a strong immune system can help save your life.

I think of cancer as a disease that must be fought with treatments for both mind and body — with surgery, radiation and chemotherapy when needed, but also with techniques which boost mood, and immunity, naturally.

Social support, for example, can extend the life of a cancer patient. In a landmark study on emotions and cancer published in The Lancet, a prominent British medical journal, it was found that women with cancer who attended support groups lived twice as long, on average, as those who did not.

A study from the University of California at Los Angeles, US, indicated that patients who had survived cancer for at least five years and attended group therapy lived three times as long as those who didn’t seek therapy. When people are grieving, their T-cells and natural killer cells — both important immune system defenders — function less effectively. Support from family, friends and fellow sufferers not only provides comfort, but also may improve a patient’s health by bolstering immune cells.

Anxiety Bad

People who feel isolated face the opposite effect: depression and anxiety can increase the risk of cancer. The National Cancer Institute, US, published a study of 4,825 healthy individuals, 146 of whom were chronically depressed. Those who had been depressed for at least six years were more likely to develop cancer. Another study, from Ohio State University, found that breast cancer patients who reported high levels of anxiety about their disease showed a major reduction in the effectiveness of their natural killer cells. This doesn’t mean that mood can cause cancer, but it does imply that depression and anxiety lower immunity – and, this can be a risk factor for cancer.

A challenging study published in The Journal of Research and Social Medicine, however, suggests that cancer might cause depression. Researchers examined 43 patients with liver tumours and found a significant correlation between clinical depression and an immune modulator called interleukin sIL2r alpha. This chemical is released when our immune system battles cancer cells – so, the same substance which fights the disease may also biologically trigger depression. Scary as this may sound, it’s actually good news because it gives us some new tools for treating cancer patients. In addition to surgery and medicine, we can use the power of the mind to impact health.

Nutritional Remedies

There are a host of natural remedies which I recommend to patients diagnosed with cancer, especially immune boosters like —

  • Alkylglycerols
  • Green tea
  • Maitake mushroom extracts.

This is not all.

  • Tomatoes may cut the risk of deadly prostate cancer by nearly half
  • Within weeks of eating fish, or supplementing your diet with fish oils, your body’s oestrogen levels shift dramatically in favour of the most protective anti-cancer form of oestrogen
  • Daily portions of broccoli can cause similar strong shifts in oestrogen balance and prevent cancer
  • Taking fish oil capsules for a mere twelve weeks significantly slows the growth of colon tumours
  • Olive oil lowers the risk of breast cancer and heart disease — among others.

The list is long.

But, just as important is for patients to seek out emotional comfort and support to help improve their outlook on life. Taking the time to meditate and reflect on [y]our experiences can alleviate stress and negative thoughts, thus strengthening the immune system.

The mind-body connection is powerful, and we need to use it to our benefit — with appropriate nutritional supplements.

Dr RICHARD FIRSHEIN, DO, is the Founder-Director of The Firshein Center for Comprehensive Medicine in New York City. He is a leading innovator and authority in the field of preventative and nutritional medicine, integrating Western and Eastern medical practices. He is Board Certified in Family Medicine and has served as professor of family medicine. An internationally recognised leader in the field of integrative medicine and healthy aging, a cancer researcher, prolific author and writer, Dr Firshein has written several ground-breaking books, including the bestselling Reversing AsthmaYour Asthma-Free ChildThe Nutraceutical Revolution and The Vitamin Prescription [For Life]. This article is ©Dr Richard Firshein.

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