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News2007May › Cancer Cures: The alternatives that are showing promise › May 2007

Cancer Cures: The alternatives that are showing promise

The same levels of myth that sustain the very best conspiracy theories surround cures for cancer

The same levels of myth that sustain the very best conspiracy theories surround cures for cancer. So we're lucky to have Ralph Moss, a longtime commentator on the fight against cancer, as our guide through the more credible alternatives that are showing promise.

He has highlighted six treatments that are supported by medical studies, and which seem to be effective.

Avemar: This is a nutritional supplemented that's made from fermented wheat germ. It helps regulate cellular metabolism and supports the immune system, and it's proven to be a good way of complementing chemotherapy. In one Hungarian study, recurrence of cancer was just 3 per cent among those taking Avemar compared with 17 per cent in the non-Avemar group, and the death rate was 12 per cent compared with 31 per cent.

Cimetidine (Tagamet): This is an over-the-counter ulcer and indigestion remedy that has some surprising cancer-fighting qualities. Its role as an anticancer agent was discovered in 1979 when it was given to two patients with lung cancer, and they both went into remission. A similar reaction was seen a few years later among end-stage cancer patients who were given 1,000 mg a day of cimetidine to help with their gastric problems. Again, the group went into remission. Since then, study after study has confirmed its effectiveness on a range of different cancers. On the downside, cimetidine can increase bone marrow toxicity if it's taken with the powerful brain cancer agent BCNU, and it can also interact badly with warfarin and theophylline, an ingredient in tea and coffee.

Maitake: This is a medicinal mushroom that has been reviewed in 25 medical studies. While it appears to be very effective in reducing tumours, all the studies so far have been only on mice and other animals.

Melatonin: This is the main hormone responsible for regulating sleep, and there have been more than 1,000 papers published about its cancer-fighting qualities. One of its main advocates is Dr Paolo Lissoni, of Monza, Italy, who says that anything that interferes with the healthy functioning of the pineal gland increases the risk of cancer. These include electromagnetic field emissions, chronic emotional stress, and mental depression. Melatonin supplements seem to work best when augmented with chemotherapy.

Pau d'arco: This is an ancient folk remedy from South America, and it's made up of 12 aromatic compounds, including lapachol, which seems to have strong anticancer qualities. A study on lapachol alone involving 19 patients with advanced cancers had mixed results. It cured a woman's hip tumour, but it didn't have any beneficial impact on the rest, although Dr Moss wonders if they were given lapachol for too short a time.

Sun Soup: This dietary supplement is made up mainly of shiitake mushroom, but also contains other mushrooms, soy and Asian herbs. It's named after biochemist Dr Alexander Sun, who died from a heart attack last year. He devised the formula in order to help his mother, who had been diagnosed with lung cancer in 1984. After studying various herbal remedies, he formulated his soup, and his mother's cancer went into complete remission eight months after she started drinking it. In one study of people with advanced lung cancer, it improved the survival rate to 15 months in those who had the soup, compared with just four months' survival in the non-soup group.

(Source: Townsend Letter, 2007: February/March edition, 56-8).

E-news broadcast 1 March 2007 No.338 [Subscribe]

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