In my early thirties, I lost my mother to a rare, but deadly, form of cancer that was growing around her bile duct. Sixteen years later, my father also died from cancer. As horrific as the disease can be, I remember thinking during my mother’s illness that the treatment was worse than the cancer. Watching our mother endure chemotherapy — and the effect it had on her physical, mental and spiritual well-being — both my sister and I seriously questioned for the first time whether we would choose such a treatment if we were ever diagnosed with cancer. To this day, my answer is still a resounding NO.
Over the years, I’ve witnessed those close to me suffer through chemotherapy and the subsequent soul-shattering after effects. Time and again, I gently questioned and listened and offered alternatives as family and friends faced the stark reality of a cancer diagnosis. But each chose the well-worn path of chemotherapy. Each died within a year and a half, many much sooner.
Sadly, countless others have similar stories, like this comment posted on a recent Telegraph article:
“After my mother was diagnosed with lung cancer, I became her caregiver and she chose to try chemo. To this day, I truly believe chemo quickened her death. Within one month her body began to give out on her, she could no longer walk up the stairs to get to her bedroom. One month later she was in a coma, three days later she took her last breath. Chemo helped destroy her body and took every good cell away from her along with the bad cells.”
Deeply believing cancer treatments increase mortality rates, instead of survival rates (a case in point: my mother died from an infection around the tube used to administer the chemotherapy, not the cancer itself), the recent headline about how chemotherapy spreads cancer and encourages more aggressive tumors, only confirms what many of us in the alternative health and wellness field have suspected for decades.
Chemotherapy: The Devil is in the Details
Preoperative chemotherapy — also known as neoadjuvant chemotherapy — is a standard treatment protocol given before surgery in the hope it will shrink tumors to the point that follow-up surgery will not be as invasive (an example is where a lumpectomy can be used, instead of a full mastectomy). But a new study in the journal Science Translational Medicine has found that this practice may actually add fuel to the fire and promote the spread of cancer to other regions of the body, thereby significantly increasing the risk of dying from the disease.
“Called ‘tumor microenvironments of metastasis,’ these on-ramps are sites on blood vessels that special immune cells flock to. If the immune cells hook up with a tumor cell, they usher it into a blood vessel like a Lyft picking up a passenger. Since blood vessels are the highways to distant organs, the result is metastasis, or the spread of cancer to far-flung sites.” [source]
In the study, mice with breast cancer who were given chemotherapy, had double the number of cancer cells in the lungs and bloodstream, compared to mice that did not receive the treatment. Moreover, scientists found that chemotherapy made blood vessels more permeable to cancer cells. Immune cells that transport cancer cells also increased.
Chemotherapy has been found to promote cancer spread in humans as well. In twenty patients who received chemotherapy drugs, it was discovered that tumor microenvironments became increasingly favorable for cancer metastasis. According to The Telegraph:
“It is thought the toxic medication switches on a repair mechanism in the body which ultimately allows tumors to grow back stronger. It also increases the number of ‘doorways’ on blood vessels which allow cancer to spread throughout the body.”
Lead researcher of the animal study, Dr George Karagiannis, of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University, New York, believes the findings will be an important component of how to create safer chemotherapy treatments in the future.
“One approach would be to obtain a small amount of tumour tissue after a few doses of preoperative chemotherapy,” he said. “If we observe that the markers scores are increased we would recommend discontinuing chemo and having surgery first, followed by post-operative chemo. We are currently planning more extensive trials to address the issue.
“In this study we only investigated chemotherapy-induced cancer cell dissemination in breast cancer. We are currently working on other types of cancer to see if similar effects are elicited.”
As Dr. Mercola points out, this isn’t the first time researchers have shown chemotherapy promotes cancer. In 2012, scientists established that chemotherapy for prostate cancer damages DNA in healthy cells and caused them to secrete more of a protein called WNT16B, which boosts tumor growth and may encourage cancer cells to develop resistance to treatment.
“WNT16B, when secreted, would interact with nearby tumor cells and cause them to grow, invade and, importantly, resist subsequent therapy,” said study co-author Dr. Peter Nelson, of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. [source]
Incredibly, it’s been known as early as 2004 that chemotherapy only makes a minor contribution to cancer survival — with a five-year survival rate of 2.3 percent in Australia and 2.1 percent in the US. (Also see: The Truth About Chemotherapy – History, Effects and Natural Alternatives.)
Considering the relative low effectiveness of chemotherapy — and significant risk of cancer spread and more resistant tumors down the line — we may ultimately be better off following the lead of this Telegraph reader:
“I was diagnosed with throat cancer in Feb of 2017 and had surgery in March. I refused the chemo and radiation treatment as I’d watched my best friend and my cousin die slow miserable deaths undergoing chemo. The American Cancer Society names “chemotherapy drugs” as known carcinogens. No thanks, I’ll take my chances.”
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About the author:
Carolanne enthusiastically believes if we want to see change in the world, we need to be the change. As a nutritionist, natural foods chef and wellness coach, Carolanne has encouraged others to embrace a healthy lifestyle of organic living, gratefulness and joyful orientation for over 13 years
Through her website Thrive-Living.net she looks forward to connecting with other like-minded people from around the world who share a similar vision. Follow Carolanne on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.