Point 10 for Cancer Success
10 Points for Cancer Success - Point Ten: Inhibiting Cancer Metastasis
I know this point is really a duplication of point four, but I don’t care – it’s that important! The surgical removal of the primary tumor has been the cornerstone of treatment for the great majority of cancers. The rationale for this approach is straightforward: if you can get rid of the cancer by simply removing it from the body (through surgery, chemo, or radiation), then you’re cured. Unfortunately, this approach does not take into account that after surgery, chemo and/or radiation the cancer will frequently metastasize (spread to different organs). Actually, the circulating tumor cells that will create the metastasis left the primary tumor long before the medical intervention. Quite often, the metastatic recurrence is far more serious than the original tumor and it is now ‘immune’ to chemotherapy. In fact, for many cancers, it is the metastatic recurrence—and not the primary tumor—that ultimately proves to be fatal.
One mechanism by which surgery increases the risk of metastasis is by enhancing cancer cell adhesion. Cancer cells that have broken away from the primary tumor utilize adhesion to boost their ability to form metastases in distant organs. These cancer cells like to be able to clump together and form colonies that can expand and grow – basically, they desire to travel together as a team. It is unlikely that a single cancer cell will form a metastatic tumor, just as one person is unlikely to form a thriving community. Cancer cells use adhesion molecules—such as galectin-3—to facilitate their ability to clump together. Present on the surface of cancer cells, these molecules act like velcro by allowing free-standing cancer cells to adhere to each. These free-standing cancer cells are called circulating tumor cells (CTCs) when they are looking for a place to set up a home.
CTCs in the bloodstream also make use of galectin-3 surface adhesion molecules to latch onto the lining of blood vessels. The adherence of CTCs to the blood vessel walls is an essential step for the process of metastasis for if a cancer cell cannot adhere to the blood vessel wall; they wander through the blood stream incapable of forming metastases. They’d become like "ships without a port" eventually destroyed by white blood cells. If the CTC’s successfully bind to the blood vessel wall and burrow their way through the basement membrane, they will then utilize galectin-3 adhesion molecules to adhere to the organ to form a new metastatic cancer.
Regrettably, though sometimes necessary, research has shown that cancer surgery increases tumor cell adhesion. Therefore, it is critically important for the person undergoing cancer surgery to take measures that can help to neutralize the surgery-induced increase in cancer cell adhesion – I list several ways below.
Fortunately, a natural compound called modified citrus pectin (MCP) can do just that. Citrus pectin—a type of dietary fiber—is not well absorbed in the intestine. However, modified citrus pectin has been altered so that it can be easily absorbed into the blood and exert its anti-cancer effects throughout the body. The mechanism by which modified citrus pectin inhibits cancer cell adhesion is by binding to galectin-3 adhesion molecules on the surface of cancer cells, thereby preventing cancer cells from sticking together and forming a cluster. MCP essentially ‘chelates’ the CTCs. It can also inhibit circulating tumor cells from latching onto the lining of blood vessels. This was demonstrated by an experiment in which modified citrus pectin blocked the adhesion of galectin-3 to the lining of blood vessels by an astounding 95%. Modified citrus pectin also substantially decreased the adhesion of breast cancer cells to the blood vessel walls in other experiments. Why doesn’t every oncologist recommend MCP? I don’t know, ask yours! It’s relatively inexpensive and even little babies can take it.
One cancer trial took 10 men with recurrent prostate cancer giving them modified citrus pectin (14.4 g per day). After one year, a considerable improvement in cancer progression was noted, as determined by a reduction of the rate at which the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) level increased (Guess 2003). This was followed by a study in which 49 men with prostate cancer of various types were given modified citrus pectin for a four-week cycle. After two cycles of treatment with modified citrus pectin, 22% of the men experienced a stabilization of their disease or improved quality of life; 12% had stable disease for more than 24 weeks. The authors of the study concluded that "MCP (modified citrus pectin) seems to have positive impacts especially regarding clinical benefit and life quality for patients with far advanced solid tumor"(Jackson 2007).
Another major contributor to cancer metastasis is a diminished immune function; primarily that which occurs immediately following a surgical procedure such as removal of a primary tumor or after chemo/radiation destroy the immune response. Specifically, surgery suppresses the number of specialized immune cells called natural killer (NK) cells, which are a type of white blood cell tasked with seeking out and destroying cancer cells.
To illustrate the importance of NK cell activity in fighting cancer, a study published in the journal Breast Cancer Research and Treatment examined NK cell activity in women shortly after surgery for breast cancer. The researchers reported that low levels of NK cell activity were associated with an increased risk of death from breast cancer (Eichbaum 2011). In fact, reduced NK cell activity was a better predictor of survival than the actual stage of the cancer! In another alarming study, individuals with reduced NK cell activity before surgery for colon cancer had a 350% increased risk of metastasis during the following 31 months (Koda 1997)! Yikes! If you are planning on surgery, you better follow this step below.
One fantastic natural compound that can increase NK cell activity is PSK, (protein-bound polysaccharide K) a specially prepared extract from the medicinal mushroom Coriolus versicolor. PSK has been shown to enhance NK cell activity in multiple studies (Fisher 2002; Garcia-Lora 2001). PSK’s ability to enhance NK cell activity helps to explain why it has been shown to dramatically improve survival in cancer patients. For example, 225 patients with lung cancer received radiation therapy with or without PSK (3 grams per day). For those with more advanced Stage 3 cancers, more than three times as many individuals taking PSK were alive after five years (26%), compared to those not taking PSK (8%). PSK more than doubled five-year survival in those individuals with less advanced Stage 1 or 2 disease (39% vs.17%) (Hayakawa 1997).
In a 2008 study, a group of colon cancer patients were randomized to receive chemotherapy alone or chemotherapy plus PSK, which was taken for two years. The group receiving PSK had an exceptional 10-year survival of 82%. Sadly, the group receiving chemotherapy alone had a 10-year survival of only 51% (Sakai 2008). In a similar trial reported in the British Journal of Cancer, colon cancer patients received chemotherapy alone or combined with PSK (3 grams per day) for two years. In the group with a more dangerous Stage 3 colon cancer, the five-year survival was 75% in the PSK group. This compared to a five-year survival of only 46% in the group receiving chemotherapy alone (Ohwada 2004). Additional research has shown that PSK improves survival in cancers of the breast, stomach, esophagus, and uterus as well (Okazaki 1986; Nakazato 1994; Toi 1992). I like to use the “whole food” form of PSK in the mushroom itself (Coriolus versicolor). I have a lot of this in my Medicinal Mushroom blend!
How to Implement Point Ten
The following three novel compounds have shown efficacy in inhibiting several mechanisms that contribute to cancer metastasis. It is especially important to consider these compounds during the perioperative period (period before and after surgery), because a known consequence of surgery is an enhanced proclivity for metastasis.
- Modified Citrus Pectin: up to 15 grams daily, in three divided doses
- Coriolus versicolor, standardized extract: 1,200 – 3,600 mg daily (I use my Medicinal Mushroom Mix – 1 tablespoon per day)
- IP6 – has been shown help decrease adhesion properties of CTCs – consider taking 2-6 capsules per day (I use the product from Hope Science)
As always, please do NOT use my book, newsletters or website as a substitute for getting properly tested for what is right for you.