The business of cancer
How more cancer screenings and the uptick in diagnoses is
doing more harm than good
Few things in life are more But instead of just removing local anesthetic, if that). But for
frightening than a cancer diagnosis. these skin growths and letting other so-called “cancers,” people
Just hearing the words, “You have their patients go on with their day, are put through major surgery, toxic
cancer,” can throw a person into a dermatologists put the fear of death chemotherapy, and/or radiation.
devastating tailspin—taking their in them by calling them cancer. (As Take prostate cancer, the most
loved ones along with them. it is, they already get a lot of practice common cancer in men. As men
So imagine hearing those words putting the fear of death into their get older, they become more likely
when they’re not actually true. patients when it comes to the sun). to develop an “occult cancer” of
Imagine having your life turned The truth is most skin cancers are the prostate. But in most cases, this
upside-down and facing mortality relatively benign growths and do not “cancer” is so slow-growing and
eye-to-eye, only to find out what you cause long-term problems if they’re silent that it never causes problems.
have isn’t really cancer… it’s a case removed. So why call these growths In fact, if it’s not discovered by
of mistaken identity, or false labeling. that don’t even meet the pathological overeager screening, it probably will
That’s just what’s happening to requirements for the lowest level— go unnoticed—unless it shows up as
countless people around the country Grade 1—cancer? an “incidental” finding at an autopsy
every day. They are receiving the Even the National Cancer Institute of a man who has died in advanced
shocking and demoralizing news that (NCI) is starting to wake up to this old age of some other cause. If such
they have cancer—a life-threatening problem. A working group they a cancer is caught, however, you can
illness—when they actually have recently sanctioned just advised count on aggressive, invasive and
something that has no chance of ever the medical community that the unnecessary treatment, not to mention
killing them. “use of the term cancer should be mental anguish.
reserved for describing lesions with Continued on page 2...
Not all “cancer” is created equal
So how is this happening? It all a reasonable likelihood of lethal
comes down to what you call things, progression if left untreated.” In this issue:
and our medical establishment has Translation? If it can’t kill a Mr. Scrooge might
taken to calling things “cancer” even person, STOP calling it cancer! as well smoke.............................4
when they’re not.
The far-reaching effects of cancer Can metformin really cause
In dermatology, for instance, scares
pathologists have long observed dementia?..................................5
These unnecessary cancer
relatively benign tumors as only diagnoses have effects far beyond the
“Grade ½” based on the benign Holiday training: How to
initial scare. Many cancers are being
appearance of the cells. Normally get your brain ready for the
treated that don’t need to be. And as
cancer cells are graded on a scale of “Happiest Time of the Year”..........6
we all know, treatment isn’t benign in
one to four, so a half-grade is meant
to register that cells don’t really look Supplements improve
like cancer—and they don’t behave For those “Grade ½” skin lesions, breast cancer survival..................8
like it either. treatment is simple (removal with 1

Cancer treatments remain among Cancer screening paves the way
Marc S. Micozzi, M.D., Ph.D., is a the most toxic, dangerous treatments for problems
worldwide leader in nutritional and still practiced anywhere since the The concept of cancer screening
complementary/alternative medicine. Middle Ages—with many side in the United States has become
He has had a distinguished career as a
effects of their own. They can even highly problematic over the past three
researcher and physician executive at
the National Institutes of Health and
cause secondary cancers. So the decades. For example, the medical
Walter Reed National Military Medical cancer you went in for won’t kill you, establishment pushes dangerous,
Center in Washington, DC, and the but here’s another one that probably expensive and overused procedures
College of Physicians in Philadelphia will! such as colonoscopy , while virtually
PA. He has published over 30 medical
When I was a medical resident, ignoring screening for lung cancer
and trade books, and founded and which causes far more cancer deaths.
edited the first scientific journal, and
my next-door neighbor in
Philadelphia was a retired fireman (Refer back to the October and
the first textbook, on complementary/
alternative and nutritional medicine, who came down with lymphoma. November issues of Insiders’ Cures
now going into a 5th edition (2014) and He was treated with a new “miracle” for more on colon cancer and lung
continuously in print since 1995. cancer drug, Adriamycin (a cancer screening.)
chemotherapeutic agent originally Then, added to that, screening is
Dr. Micozzi’s Insiders’ Cures is published developed from algae in the Adriatic identifying more of what doctors
monthly by OmniVista Health Media, L.L.C.,
Sea). He was cured of the cancer, but have been calling “early cancers,” but
819 N. Charles St., Baltimore, MD 21201 for
$74 per year ($6.16 an issue).
the Adriamycin destroyed his heart which we now realize are not cancers
muscle and he quickly died—albeit at all. From a distance, it looks like
POSTMASTER: Send address changes
“cancer-free.” Knowing what we the system has been catching more
to Insiders’ Cures, 819 N. Charles St.,
Baltimore, MD 21201.
now know, I suspect the drug totally cancers and preventing more deaths
destroyed the cellular respiration due to cancer. But these statistics are
Author: Marc S. Micozzi, M.D., Ph.D.
function in the mitochondria, misleading if the additional cancers
Publisher: Katherine Wheeler
Executive Editor: Amanda Angelini
causing the heart to go first. were not going to cause death in
That’s just one story, but there the first place. It’s all part of the
All material in this publication is
provided for information only and may are lots more like it. And beyond statistical trickery used to create the
not be construed as medical advice or its effects on individuals like my illusion of some progress in the “war
instruction. No action should be taken neighbor, this “over-diagnosis/ on cancer.”
based solely on the contents of this over-treatment crisis” makes us less This numbers game makes us think
publication; readers should consult healthy as a society. we’re getting ahead of cancer. But all
appropriate health professionals on any
matter relating to their health and well- Just think of the epidemic of we are really doing is just diagnosing
being. The information provided in this vitamin D deficiency that has more “non-cancers” and calling it a
publication is believed to be accurate resulted from our being kept out of success when they don’t kill us.
and sound, based on the best judgment the sun for fear of skin cancers (91 Here’s an example: Breast cancer
available to the authors, but readers percent of which don’t really behave screening has led to an overall
who fail to consult with appropriate
like cancer at all). increase in incidence of new “cases,”
health authorities assume the risk of any
injuries. The opinions expressed here do We now realize that lack of because both cancers and non-cancers
not necessarily reflect the views of the vitamin D can contribute to other, are being detected. So when cancer
publisher. The publisher is not responsible typically more serious, cancers death rates stay the same or decrease,
for errors or omissions. (and heart disease, and respiratory despite a supposed increase in
For questions regarding your subscription, diseases, and more).1 So again, we’re incidence, it allows the government
please call reader services at 443-353-4398 trading a relatively minor health to claim a false sense of victory.
(8 a.m. to 8 p.m. EDT Mon.-Fri.) concern for a major one. The same is happening with prostate
Copyright © 2013 OmniVista Health cancer and others.
Of course, the over-diagnosis/
Media, L.L.C., 819 N. Charles St., Baltimore, And all the while, the real goal—to
over-treatment crisis wouldn’t be
MD 21201. Reproduction in whole or
possible without another, equally reduce the rates of late-stage cancers
in part is prohibited without written
permission of the publisher. problematic aspect of modern and cancer deaths—remains elusive.
oncology. Screening practices and programs


designed for that purpose have not The advisory panel laid out a way we’ll get an accurate view of
met their goals. All we have done is plan for dealing with this problem. what is and is not causing real cancer.
to increase detection of “early-stage” First, as I mentioned earlier, it This would vastly improve the quality
cancer but without any decline in specifically advised that a number of of our cancer statistics, on which our
“late-stage” cancer. If cancer is defined “pre-malignant” conditions should national health policies are based.
as a disease that will lead to death if no longer be called “cancer.” This Another proposal focuses on
untreated, then detecting an “early” includes the common intra-ductal reducing over-diagnosis by reducing
cancer that would have never led to carcinoma of the breast (within the the use of low-yield diagnostic tests,
death is not detecting cancer at all. breast ducts) and even “high-grade” reducing the frequency of screenings,
And we have accomplished nothing. intraepithelial neoplasia of the focusing on high-risk populations,
prostate. and raising requirements for taking a
When does screening make
sense? Instead, a different category biopsy.
We need to understand and of growth or tumor should be Finally, the panel recommended
appreciate the biology of different recognized and labeled appropriately alternatives to treatment by focusing
cancers. If a cancer is very fast- as “non-cancer.” Doesn’t that sound on the environment in which tumors
growing, then no screening can less frightening? The panel suggests arise. Strategies such as diet or
realistically be effective when it using such terms as “indolent lesions chemoprevention (reducing the risk
comes to the population as a whole. of epithelial origin” or IDLE. of cancer by specific micronutrient
If it is slower-growing, as with colon A big part of the problem is all the vitamins and minerals) may be as
polyps that take a long time (15 years medical sub-specialties involved in effective, and are less toxic, than
on average) to develop into colon cancer. Each has its own terminology traditional therapies.
cancer, then less frequent screening largely based upon the technologies Of course, given misplaced
can be effective. they use, rather than a fundamental priorities for cancer research
If growth is very slow (for understanding of the biology of funding, the oncology community
example, exceeding human life cancer. The use of new tools for still has a long way to go before
expectancy, such as “occult” cancer diagnosing or treating diseases has understanding the right doses, forms,
of prostate) then screening is actually driven the creation and practice of and micronutrients to use. But some
harmful because it detects lesions that different medical specialties, each of research is beginning to emerge that
need not and should not be treated. which has developed exclusive uses may point us in the right direction.
of these technologies. This state of On page 8 of this newsletter, for
The one unqualified success affairs calls to mind the admonition,
story we’ve seen with screening is instance, I describe a study that found
“If your only tool is a hammer, then higher intake of vitamins C, D, and
for cervical cancer. Cervical cancer you see every problem as a nail.” E was associated with lower risk of
used to be one of the top causes of
Another result of medical sub- breast cancer death or recurrence.
cancer deaths in women. But from
1955 to 1992, the cancer death rate specialization is the different What you can do
has declined by almost 70 percent— terminologies in use across the
The first thing patients and doctors
thanks to widespread, easy, and spectrum of pathology, radiology,
alike need to do is be aware of the
effective screening.2 No other cancer surgery, and other medical specialities
problem of over-diagnosis. Then you
screening has shown anywhere near as well as the general community.
can make informed decisions.
these kinds of positive results. The panel has recommended that a
body such as the Institute of Medicine But regardless of how long it takes
Given this sad state of affairs, what determine what we should call these the mainstream medical community
else is the NCI-approved panel I lesions now called cancer. to change its ways in regards to
mentioned above proposing? cancer, there are a couple of things
Then—in order to actually affect
A common-sense solution you can do right now to significantly
the rates of late-stage cancers
reduce your risk of ever facing a
The practice of oncology in the and cancer deaths—all the other
cancer diagnosis.
United States is in serious need of “pre-malignant” lesions must be
a host of reforms to address the tracked separately by government First and foremost, it’s important to
problems of over-diagnosis and over- statisticians, instead of being lumped remember that individual cancer cells
treatment. together with cancer. That’s the only Continued on page 4...


continuously arise in the body. But and, yes, even some fat, especially nutrients to the growing tumor. This
a healthy immune system eliminates omega-3s. process is called angiogenesis. And
them before they can cause trouble. there are many safe, natural ways to
For those cancer cells that do
So keeping your immune system stop it. I covered these approaches
survive, the only way they can grow
in detail in the July 2013 issue of
balanced and operating at peak into a life-threatening tumor is by
Insiders’ Cures. If you don’t still
performance should be your No. 1 hijacking your body’s blood supply.
have your copy, you can download
priority. And the very best way to It diverts blood vessels from other and view it for free on my website,
do that is to eat a nutritious diet that parts of the body and pulls them into IC
includes a variety of produce, protein, the tumor. This stolen blood supplies Citations available online at

Mr. Scrooge might as well smoke
If you have any doubt that humans are social animals, just read my article on holiday survival on page 6. But being social
doesn’t just affect quality of life. It can affect your quantity of life as well.
Researchers at the University of California have found that lack of social interaction—in other words, social isolation—is a
risk factor for premature death.1 In fact, it even rivals the effects of “traditional” factors for mortality, like smoking or high
blood pressure.
Doctors routinely ask how many packs of cigarettes a patient smokes a day. Blood pressure is routinely monitored in
doctors’ offices, drug stores, and even at home (although, amazingly, up to half of the 50 million people who should have
their blood pressure monitored don’t). But how often do doctors evaluate their social circles?
Of course, social isolation is not as quick and easy to evaluate as other risk factors. There is a tool, though, that doctors
can use to gather important information about a person’s social relationships. The Social Network Index measures social
isolation by looking at factors such as marital status, frequency of contacts with others, and participation in groups.
People with higher scores on the Social Network Index are healthier. We know, for instance, that women with suspected
coronary disease who have strong social networks are less likely to die.2 And research continually shows that being
married is strongly associated with better health and lower mortality.3
This new study sheds some light on why these social connections make us healthier.
Being alone is as dangerous as smoking
Looking at data from almost 17,000 adults, the researchers found that greater social isolation put men at a nearly two-
thirds higher risk of dying—almost exactly the same increase that smoking causes. In women it’s even more striking:
lonely women have a three-quarters higher risk of death than women with healthy social networks.
A social network has a lot of components, but this study found that for men, the most important risk factors were being
unmarried, participating infrequently in religious activities, and lacking club or organization affiliations. In women, being
unmarried, infrequent social contact, and participating infrequently in religious activities topped the list.
Even if your doctor is too rushed to ask you about your social relationships, you can take stock of your own social index
with four easy questions:
• Are you married?
• Do you participate in religious activities?
• Do you belong to a group or club?
• How frequently to do you get together with other people?
If your answers show you could use some more social interaction, take advantage of the season and make some
connections. Join a volunteer group. Go to church, temple, or synagogue with your family and friends. And if you aren’t
married, while you’re there, maybe keep an eye out for that special someone.
Citations available online at


Can metformin really cause dementia?
If the news reports describing Among those with diabetes, that can be addressed and turned
a new study from Australia are to the ones taking metformin scored around easily.
believed, type-2 diabetics who use significantly worse on cognitive A little basic knowledge of
metformin may face increased risk of measures. In fact, they had more than nutrition will put it all in perspective.
dementia. double the rate of dementia than other And a willingness to employ basic
What the reports don’t tell you is diabetics. If you just look at their nutrients as truly “complementary”
statistics, it seems like a pretty clear- medicine will mitigate any of
why the study found the drug to be
cut case against metformin. metformin’s negative effects.
associated with cognitive problems.
And that’s where the real story is. But as we know, there’s often
The brain vitamin
more to the story than what makes
As you know, if you’ve been First a little background. Since
the headlines. In fact, if you look
reading Insiders’ Cures and the the 1970s, clinicians and scientists
at the actual numbers instead of the
Daily Dispatch for a while, I believe have been aware that metformin use
percentages, the differences are not as
metformin is a very safe, effective is associated with lower levels of
dramatic as they seem. On a standard
drug for lowering blood sugar. measure of cognitive function, vitamin B12. The culprit here may
Its benefits are so great it’s worth metformin users averaged 22.8, be an interaction between metformin
finding solutions to its “side effects.” whereas others scored an average and a receptor in a part of the small
Especially when those solutions are of 24.7. That’s less than two points intestine. This interaction may inhibit
easy—and are things everyone should difference. Which is not nearly as the body’s ability to absorb and use
be doing anyway. alarming as the statistical analysis vitamin B12. Absorbing adequate
makes it sound. vitamin B from the diet requires
Understanding the numbers
healthy stomach and intestinal
The researchers gathered data from Still, it’s important to understand functions. Many factors can interfere
several sources throughout Australia the reasons for the difference, so you with or inhibit the absorption
and found that diabetics were 50 can protect both your blood sugar and process—including metformin.
percent more likely to suffer some your brain. As it turns out, there’s a
cognitive impairment compared to simple explanation for the findings. And if you continue digging
non-diabetics. And the good news is, it’s something Continued on page 6...

Which B12 is best?
When choosing a B12 supplement, you may be confused about the terminology. You’ll need to choose between
two forms: cyanocobalamin or methylcobalamin.
Once it is in the body, cyanocobalamin is converted into the physiologic forms methylcobalamin and
adenosylcobalamin (bound with a nucleic acid). However, outside the body methylcobalamin can be chemically
unstable. If a micronutrient is unstable, it can break down before you take it, and you don’t know what (if any) potency
is left—or what potentially dangerous byproducts may be present.
I recommend cyanocobalamin because it is much more stable before it gets into the body. Stability is important
during manufacturing and shipping, so that a product stays fresh, safe and potent for you on your shelf.
Note that a trace amount of the chemical group cyanide is used during the processing of cyanocobalamin. The
small trace poses no danger and can actually have a nutritive effect in trace amounts in light of the biological concept
of hormesis (which is too big a topic for this article; for more on that, consult my medical textbook, Fundamentals of
Complementary & Alternative Medicine, 4th edition; Elsevier Health Sciences, 2011). There are actually trace amounts of
arsenic and cyanide naturally occurring in fruits (especially the seeds and pits) and nuts. In nature, this probably helps
keep many small predators, such as microbes and insects, from spoiling the fruit and the seed while having no effect
regarding human consumption.


into the numbers of the Australian out is not that metformin harms that suppress stomach acid (which are
analysis, you’ll see that the evidence cognition. The real news is that used in epidemic proportions today).
supports this theory. Among patients anyone taking metformin should also Amazingly enough, despite
with diabetes, cognitive function be taking B vitamins. metformin’s long market history,
measures were lower among those We have known for decades there are currently no clinical
who had low levels of vitamin B12 in that B vitamins are critical for guidelines in place for monitoring or
their blood. B12 deficiency is a well- healthy brain and nervous tissue. In supplementing B vitamins.
known cause of cognitive decline. Europe, B vitamins are even called And of course, the government’s
Too bad more doctors don’t know “neurovitamins” because of their
paltry Recommended Daily
about this problem and advise their essential role in brain function.
Allowances (RDAs) are nowhere near
patients. It’s easy to fix once you Because metformin decreases B12 sufficient to deal with these issues.
know a little nutrition. And it’s absorption, people taking it may not Maintaining “adequate” vitamin B12
important to address it early, because be able to get enough of the vitamin levels is not good enough to reverse
the effects can become permanent if from a well-balanced diet alone. the potential effects of metformin, nor
not addressed within a year of when That’s especially true for people who to reduce the risk of cognitive decline
the symptoms start.1 follow a vegetarian diet, have had in later life.
So the real issue this study points gastrointestinal surgery, or take drugs
Every person taking metformin
should also be taking high-quality
Brain-boosting vitamin B doses B vitamins. In fact, good levels
Thiamine.....................................................................2.5 to 5.0 mg of B vitamins, including vitamin
Vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine).......................................5 to 10 mg B12, should be part of any natural
Folate (L-methylfolate)..........................................800 to 1600 mcg (0.8 to 1.6 mg)* approach to healthy brain function—
Vitamin B 12 (cyanocobalamin).........................20 to 40 mcg especially with aging. See sidebars
*For folate, I recommend Metfolin®, which is high quality, bioavailable, and for recommended doses and forms for
pharmaceutical grade achieving optimal levels. IC
Citations available online at

Holiday training: How to get your brain ready for the
“Happiest Time of the Year”
This time of year, “Christmas who can’t get off his or her soapbox First, ditch the techno-gadgets
spirit” is everywhere you look. or the granddaughter who’s too Back to that granddaughter who
And as a collective aspiration for focused on her “smart” phone to even just can’t seem to look up from her
benevolence toward and from our notice you’ve arrived, it’s easy to feel phone. She may be taking it to an
fellow men and women, it can be disconnected this time of year. altogether new level, but you’ve
beautiful indeed. But there’s good news in that probably noticed that many of us,
That’s not to say the holidays are our ability to connect with others across the generations, are spending
all sunshine and mistletoe. It’s also is something we can improve. Like more time staring at small screens
rife with opportunities for sadness— a muscle that gets stronger with these days. And this technology
with the high expectations, hectic exercise, our benevolence toward craze comes at a price: By remaining
schedules, and maybe even reminders others increases the more we interact “connected” all the time with these
of long-gone, happier holidays in with others. And recent research devices, we’re losing our ability to
years past. Even the gatherings of gives us a concrete way to “train” connect with one another.
loved ones can tax us in ways we may for the connection-marathon that the That’s because our brains are
not anticipate. Whether it’s the in-law holidays often prove to be. shaped by experiences. So when our


brains are only given opportunities to for helping us deal with stress.
find gratification from screens, they So people with better vagal tone
forget how to find it from people. typically respond better to stressful
Your step-by-step guide
to a happier holiday
Of course, if the brain can be events.
rewired once, it can be done again. The vagus nerve isn’t only
And a new study shows that the age- Try to make Loving-Kindness
responsible for organ systems; a part of your everyday routine.
old practice of meditation can do just it also is essential for social
that. Here’s how to start.
interactions: It helps us control our
facial expressions and tune into 1. Sit in a comfortable position
Cultivating kindness
others’ voices. When we improve with your eyes closed. Take a
A recent study plucked people few deep breaths.
from their everyday technology our vagal tone, we increase our
addictions and enrolled them in capacity for connection, friendship 2. Think of what you want for
a workshop on a mindfulness and empathy. These powerful effects your life. Is it health? Peace?
meditation known as “metta,” or even have the ability to regulate our Love? Hold that thought.
“loving-kindness” meditation (see genes, turning them on or off. 3. Repeat to yourself silently,
sidebar).1 After six weeks, the I’ve written before about the “May I be healthy (or happy,
meditators improved their outlook new “gene science,” which has or peaceful, etc.).” If your mind
and felt more connected to others. yet to yield new “miracle” genetic wanders, gently bring it back
Not only that, but their physical cures for common diseases. to your wish for yourself.
health benefited as well. However, it has revealed a wealth 4. Picture someone you care
The researchers looked at of information about how mind- about. Repeat the same phrase
participants’ vagal tone, which refers body approaches and natural for that person, while holding
to the health of the vagus nerve. therapies actually work in the his or her image in your mind:
The vagus nerve plays a key part in body. In fact, in a past issue of my “May you be healthy.”
regulating our major bodily functions, Daily Dispatch “Relaxation—it’s 5. Now picture someone you
including breathing, heart rate, in your genes,” (7/1/13) I reported don’t have any feelings
and digestion. It’s also responsible on how relaxation therapy regulates about—maybe the person
genes that have healthy effects on who was in front of you in
blood pressure (you can read this line at the coffee shop this
It’s the most personal Dispatch on my website, www. morning—and direct the wish
time of the year to him or her.
Different people “feel their Other research on loving- 6. Think of someone you have
feelings”—and face holiday kindness meditation has shown it negative feelings toward (the
stress—in their own ways. And reduces symptoms of post-traumatic obnoxious in-law you’ll be
thus, are susceptible to different stress and depression, and it’s even sharing Christmas dinner with,
disorders. Along the same lines, being studied in connection with or a boss or co-worker you are
different complementary and improving longevity.2,3 sure to encounter at a holiday
alternative therapies work better affair) and direct the wish
As you’re gearing up for this
for some people than other toward him or her.
holiday season, scratch another new
therapies do. This fact has to do
iPod off the list and add this instead: 7. Now direct the wish toward
with what I call one’s “emotional
Meditate more. Even if it’s just five the whole world: “May
type.” To find out yours, take the
simple quiz at www.drmicozzi.
minutes a day, taking time to slow everyone, everywhere be
com. For a more complete down and offer your benevolent happy (or healthy, or peaceful,
assessment and explanation of wishes to yourself and those around etc.).”
what your emotional type means you can make a difference. And 8. Slowly open your eyes and
for your health, my book Your not only for those potentially tense return to your day, keeping
Emotional Type is also available on holiday dinner gatherings, but for this expansive feeling of
the website. your health as well. IC benevolence with you.
Citations available online at


Supplements improve breast cancer survival
If you’ve been reading Insiders’ Unfortunately, a lot of mainstream with a decreased risk of cancer
Cures for a while, it’ll come as no doctors still haven’t gotten the memo. recurrence.
surprise how little mainstream doctors Maybe a powerful new study on the Lumped together, antioxidants were
know about nutrition research or subject will change that. associated with a 16 percent reduction
supplements. The real effects of vitamins on in cancer deaths.
Most doctors say they just don’t cancer So not only is the use of vitamins not
believe in it, aren’t interested, and/ One of the reasons this new study is associated with increased cancer deaths
or don’t have time. But even doctors so significant is that it used a very large or recurrence, it actually is linked to
who do say they’re interested in and sample size—12,019 women with decreased death and recurrence. This
knowledgeable about nutrition often get breast cancer. Another reason is that it study effectively confirms that myths
it wrong. In fact, I just participated in looked at women in the United States about “dangers” of dietary supplements
an exclusive survey of doctors who do and women in China. We often include for cancer patients have no basis.
include nutrition in their practices. What’s more, these supplements
And judging by their answers to The mantra has always probably helped protect patients against
supplement questions, it really makes the toxic side effects of standard cancer
me wonder about all these “johnny- been that vitamin and
come-lately” nutrition docs and mineral supplements—
The researchers note that sorting
“natural-know-it-alls.” especially antioxidants— out the effects of individual vitamins
Take the standard advice for cancer could interfere with on cancer survival and recurrence
patients and survivors. The mantra is a larger question. But given the
has always been that vitamin and chemotherapy and
poor quality of many supplements,
mineral supplements—especially radiation treatments. especially most common multivitamins,
antioxidants—could interfere Of course, this wasn’t it is encouraging that this study still
with chemotherapy and radiation found significant beneficial effects.
treatments. based on anything
That would lead us to believe that using
Of course, this wasn’t based on resembling science. high-quality supplements, with the
anything resembling science. right ingredients, at the right doses, in
China in cancer studies because of the right combinations (which are often
Those of us who know a thing or
the significant differences in diet and missing from multi-million dollar
two about nutrients have always known
nutrient intakes between the United cancer research studies) will provide
this theory doesn’t hold water. In fact,
States and China. These allow us to even more protection and benefit to
I laid that red herring to rest when I ran
observe a greater range of different women with cancer.
the Center for Integrative Medicine at
vitamin intake levels. The bottom line is that cancer
Thomas Jefferson University Hospital
in Philadelphia nearly 10 years ago. The researchers in this study wanted survivors should forget everything
to find out once and for all what they’ve heard about avoiding
My team and I proved to several
effects supplements have on breast supplements during recovery. Vitamin
different hospital committees that there
cancer recurrence and survival. They supplements not only aren’t dangerous,
was no evidence for harm, but evidence
looked at vitamins A, B, C, D, E and they actually may increase survival
for benefit, in offering intravenous
multivitamins, taking into account rates, decrease recurrence rates, and
vitamin C to cancer patients (See
supplement use from one to five years stem the side effects of traditional
“Vitamin breakthrough for cancer
after breast cancer was diagnosed. treatments.
targets tumors at the sources” in the
August 2013 edition of Insiders’ Their findings were right in line That’s good news for the more than
Cures). The evidence is summarized with what I knew years ago: Higher 2.8 million women in the United States
in my book, Complementary and vitamin C intake is associated with with a history of breast cancer who
Integrative Therapies in Cancer Care a decreased risk of cancer death. want to take charge of their health.1 Put
& Prevention (New York: Springer They also found that higher intake of a pink ribbon on that one, and wrap it
Publishers, 2007). vitamins D and E each are associated up in red and green for Christmas. IC
Citations available online at