By Richard Linchitz, M.D.
In order for the reader to understand the rationale for our comprehensive anti-cancer regimen, I would first like to share my own personal experience with cancer.
In December, 1988, after a routine exam for an unrelated condition, my doctors found a cancerous tumor the size of a large lemon in my right lung. I had never smoked and was always athletic so I was understandably shocked by the diagnosis. Gradually, the shock turned into a mission to understand the nature of cancer and help others find their own path to healing. In the early days and weeks after my diagnosis, I realized that my previous responses to my patients who found themselves in similar situations were incomplete. In the past, I would have immediately advised patients to contact an oncologist and put themselves in his or her hands. When it came down to my own condition however, I began to doubt that advice. When I looked into the available treatments, I realized that for a minimal proven benefit, I would face treatment that would seriously compromise the quality of my life. There did not seem to be any traditional medical resource that could help me discover the underlying reasons for my cancer. There were also no traditional resources to help improve my strength and resistance to the disease that was threatening to take my life.
I gradually came to realize that truly comprehensive cancer treatment should include a two-pronged approach. One prong would be to find an effective way of killing cancer cells without destroying the immune system and without destroying the overall health and integrity of the body. The second prong would be to actually improve the health and cancer-fighting ability of the body through what I came to call “The Six Pillars of Vibrant Health.”
I will first describe the six pillars and how they are integrated into a comprehensive approach to cancer care, and then go into more detail about effective techniques of killing cancer cells.
The first pillar of vibrant health is our diet. In cancer this takes on an even more urgent importance. Cancer cells, like most cells, require glucose to derive energy. However, cancer cells, because of their more primitive and inefficient anaerobic metabolism, require much more sugar than normal cells to survive. If they are to maintain their rapid growth pattern they need that much more sugar. All our cells take in sugar through a mechanism that can be conceptualized as a “lock and key” system where insulin is the key and an insulin receptor is the lock. It turns out that cancer cells have many more “doors” with these “locks and keys” than normal cells. This is understandable because any cancer cell without a mechanism for concentrating sugar will not survive. Only those cells with high concentrations of these receptors will be able to rapidly divide and develop into cancerous tumors.
Conventional physicians are aware (or should be) of this mechanism and even use it to help diagnose cancer with the PET scan (positron emission tomography). Its theory is very simple: a radioactively labeled sugar is injected into the person’s vein. The sugar travels through the body and causes the body to produce insulin. The insulin “keys” then attach to the receptor “locks” on all the body’s cells and the “doors” of the cells open. Cancer cells, however, will have many more “open doors” and therefore will concentrate the sugar with the radioactive tracer. The body is then scanned for radioactivity and the cancer “lights up” on the scan.
If we think about this process carefully, does it tell us anything about the way we should eat? Of course we should limit (or preferable eliminate) our sugar intake and our intake of anything else that will cause a significant rise in our blood sugar (especially refined carbohydrates but even sweet fruits and grains can be a problem in some patients). This is essentially the same diet we recommend for our diabetic patients. In fact, there is an association between diabetes and pre-diabetes with high blood sugar and insulin levels on the one hand and with cancer incidence on the other hand. We also know that rising blood sugar interferes with immune function.
We also need to eat organic food to limit the toxins entering our body. We must be careful to limit our intake of omega 6 fats which are pro-inflammatory and pro-cancerous. We should increase our intake of omega 3 fats which are anti-inflammatory and generally anti-cancer. The proper balance of these fats fights inflammation and cancer. We must avoid trans fats or partially hydrogenated fats which are pro-inflammatory and interfere with cellular communication and with the transport of nutrients. In short, a whole food diet, focusing on plenty of vegetables (mostly raw) with organic, naturally fed (grass for cows, grass and worms for chickens) animal products (free-range chicken and eggs, wild salmon, grass fed beef, raw milk, kefir and cheese, etc). Recent studies have shown that the right diet can improve survival rates for several cancer types.
The second pillar is supplements. Many supplements have been shown to have anticancer effects in preclinical studies and some even in clinical studies in humans. Some have been shown to be powerful immune stimulants (such as the various mushroom products). Others have been shown to have direct effects on cancer metabolism causing cancer cells to die. At Linchitz Medical Wellness, we have developed a protocol of natural agents that interfere with cancer angiogenesis (cancer blood vessel formation). If cancer cannot make blood vessels, its growth and ability to spread would be severely limited. This is the theory behind conventional agents such as Avastin but the natural agents work through many mechanisms. This protocol could even potentiate the effects of agents like Avastin as well as classic chemotherapy drugs. There are other natural agents that have been shown to potentiate conventional chemotherapy drugs by increasing their penetration into cancer cells and by interfering with the ability of the cancer cells to become resistant to these drugs.
Exercise is another crucial pillar. Recent studies have shown improved survival rates in patients battling cancer as well as improved quality of life. Exercise can be thought of as a continuum between activity and rest, both of which are important. Overtraining can be just as destructive to immune health as inactivity. We have found that the most effective exercise program is the one that patients are willing to follow. It can be walking, swimming, yoga, weight lift training, etc. Ideally, short bursts of intense activity with longer periods of rest or easy activity in between, will provide optimal immune stimulation and will be manageable for most patients.
Stress can play an important role in interfering with immune health, in causing inflammation, and in disrupting hormonal balance. The fourth pillar, stress management, is a general term under which spirituality and living with meaning or purpose can be included. At Linchitz Medical Wellness, we encourage patients to meditate, to pray, do yoga, tai chi, or anything else that gives them relaxation, peace and a sense of inner strength. We also use “quantum biofeedback” and “EFT” (Emotional Freedom Technique) to help reduce stress and improve emotional balance and well-being.
The fifth pillar is detoxification, a subject curiously ignored in conventional medicine. Heavy metals, for example, are known immune disruptors and many of them are frankly carcinogenic. Those patients with body burdens of these substances need chelation to help restore immune competence and cellular energy. Pesticides, plasticizers, and many other environmental toxins are endocrine disruptors and have been implicated in the rising incidence of breast and prostate cancer as well as other types of cancer. In addition to chelation, at Linchitz Medical Wellness, we offer far-infrared sauna treatments and colon hydrotherapy to aid in the detoxification process. The first pillar, a clean diet, will also limit toxin exposure. Vegetable juicing and eating high-fiber food will speed elimination and detoxification as well.
The final pillar is hormone balancing. One important example of the hormone problem is the growing epidemic of unrecognized hypothyroidism. It has been recently noted in studies that breast cancer is associated with high TSH values (a symptom of hypothyroidism). Hypothyroidism suppresses immune function in general. Many patients have cancers that are sensitive to hormones. In fact, it is sometimes the presence of higher levels of toxic estrogen metabolites (like 4.-OH and 16-OH estrone) that may have predisposed the patient to cancer in the first place. Fortunately that thyroid gland can sometimes be naturally stimulated (in some cases the removal of toxins from the body can aid in this process). For other patients, replacement of thyroid hormone is indicated. In the case of toxic estrogen metabolites, diet change, simple supplements, and exercise can lower these levels. There are other hormonal issues that can also play a role. All must be taken into account in order to optimize treatment.
We have covered the six pillars but what about aggressively killing the cancer cells that have appeared in our body? Insulin Potentiation Therapy Low Dose™ chemotherapy (IPT) is an effective, yet gentle way of killing cancer cells. The theory behind IPT could not be more logical. Cancer cells in general concentrate sugar through their abundance of insulin receptors as described earlier. If a small measured dose of insulin is given, the cancer cells become selectively more permeable, and then the insulin receptor sites are maximally saturated with insulin (the therapeutic moment). Very small doses of chemotherapy agents are then introduced into the body and these doses are effectively concentrated into the cancer cells providing enhanced killing powers with a much lower side effect profile.
How do we choose among different chemotherapy drugs? As with conventional oncology, we can choose an agent that has been shown to be effective in most patients with a specific type of tumor. However, in the interest of a truly individualized approach to treatment, we can send the patient’s blood to a laboratory in Europe that will test the blood for circulating tumor cells and then test these for resistance to various chemotherapy drugs. This will allow us to pick out the most effective drugs for each individual patient. These drugs could be very different from the standard protocols in oncology. This laboratory will also test for alternative (natural and nontraditional) agents that can help overcome chemotherapy resistance or even directly kill cancer cells. Natural killer cell function (a measure of immune function) is also assayed (tested) and information is given as to the most effective agents to more effectively attack the cancer.
We often use high dose vitamin C intravenously as part of the overall regimen. This can be combined with vitamin K3 (which has been shown to potentiate (make stronger) the cancer killing effects of vitamin C). The National Institutes of Health is currently studying high dose vitamin C and has shown it will kill most cancer cells when given in high enough concentrations (these concentrations can be achieved only with intravenous vitamin C).
There are many other potential treatments available, some of them very innovative. All treatments are individualized to each patient with the goal of maximizing benefit. As new research emerges, we are constantly updating our protocols to offer the most effective treatments.