In the United States, cancer is responsible for about 25% of all deaths each year. In the United States, breast cancer is the most prevalent cancer in women, and the second most common cause of cancer death in women (after lung cancer). In 2007, breast cancer is expected to cause 40,910 deaths (7% of cancer deaths; almost 2% of all deaths) in the U.S. Women in the U.S. have 1 in 8 lifetime chance of developing invasive breast cancer and a 1 in 33 chance of breast cancer causing their death. The number of cases has significantly increased since the 1970s, a phenomenon partly blamed on modern lifestyles in the Western world.
Surgery, radiation and chemotherapy are frequently used alone and in combination to treat cancer. Each can be life saving, and each can cause severe side effects. Radiation can effectively kill cancerous tissue; however, radiation is non-specific and will also damage non-target tissues. Specifically, radiation will damage those cells that divide most rapidly, which include those lining the intestines, leading to increased risk for gastrointestinal complaints, malabsorption and nutritional deficiencies. Chemotherapy, like many medications, causes depletions in specific nutrients. For example, Herceptin, used to treat breast cancer, can cause cardiotoxicity because it depletes L-carnitine and coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10). Testing someone's unique nutritional biochemical status and designing plans for them based on their unique needs can help speed up healing time from surgery, decrease side effects from radiation and chemotherapy and improves someone's overall strength, sense of wellbeing and vitality. A team that contains doctors expert in nutritional biochemistry, conventional medical oncologists, body workers such as acupuncturists and massage therapists, and support groups provides the most comprehensive approach to fighting cancer. Nutritional treatments must be timed properly with radiation and chemotherapy to avoid potential interactions.
A 54-year old woman presented to Montana Integrative Medicine after being diagnosed with breast cancer and undergoing a radical mastectomy, radation and chemotherapy. She continued to be on intravenous Herceptin treatments for the cancer. She complained of severe indigestion, fatigue, insomnia, constipation, muscle aching and spasms. She rated her energy at four out of ten, ten being best. Her nutritional biochemical test revealed multiple severe deficiencies that explained most of her symptoms.
|Severe amino acid deficiencies, suggesting damage to the intestines and malabsorption|
|Low essential minerals|
|Low omega-3 series polyunsaturated fatty acids, which are anti-inflammatory|
|Decreased ability to burn fat for energy; functional deficiency in L-carnitine|
|Decreased ability to use carbohydrates for energy; functional deficiencies in vitamins B1, B3, lipoic acid and CoQ10|
|Specific indicators of functional CoQ10 deficiency|
|Specific indicators for functional deficiencies in vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6 and B12|
|Mutiple intestinal infections, including Clostridia spp. and yeast (Candida spp.)|
|Food allergy to egg whites|
She was placed on a therapeutic program tailored specifically to her needs, which included diet and nutraceuticals. Over the next several months her muscle cramps, indigestion and constipation completely resolved, and her energy increased to eight out of ten (ten being best). Moreover, she described a general increase in vitality and strength.