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New cancer diagnosis: Do natural treatments help? How about also for AIDS?
Apr 20, 2003

A close friend, who is a 72 y/o female, just learned she has Adenocarcinoma of Unknown Primary.

An abdominal/pelvic CT-scan taken two weeks ago, show 2-masses in the liver, a mass in the gallbladder, and some nodules on the lower lungs, captured by the scan. A liver biopsy has established metastatic carcinoma.

From everything I read, the prognosis looks grim.

Yet her blood work is fine, liver enzymes slightly elevated. Colonoscopy was also clear. Her reflexes are great, physically she is in great shape for her age. Hell, she was even out shoveling snow only 2-months ago. She shows no outward signs of anything out of the ordinary. She feels fine and looks good.

She is scheduled for a CT-scan of the lungs, and a bone scan next week, followed by a visit with her Oncologist.

She has always taken natural food and mineral supplements, including some vinegar and honey with green tea every morning.

In lieu of chemo or radiation therapies, I have been researching Natural alternatives for her.

My question is, do any of these natural products such as XXXX [name removed], which supposedly oxygenates and supplies needed natural minerals at the cellular level, and the myriad of other natural supplements, including powdered sharks cartiledge, powdered Aloe Vera, Alfalfa pills, etc., actually do any good?

I have also read that some of these products help in AIDS treatments. Though, I understand that you should consult your physician prior to starting any kind of natural supplement therapies, because some supplements can counteract various HIV meds.

I'd like to hope that these natural treatment regimes are not all rhetoric and offer only false hope. But I'd like your expert opinion.

You see, this friend is my mother.

Thanks

Response from Dr. Dezube

I am sorry to hear about your mother's cancer. Such a diagnosis can be tough both on the patient (your mother) and the family (you). As you can imagine, many patients seek help from alternative and complementary medicines. In fact, the majoirty of AIDS and cancer patients will try some form of alternative medicine some time during their illness. These medicines often help patients feel that they are fighting back. Patients feel empowered. For that reason I do not prevent my patients from taking these treatments subject to a few cautionary notes listed below.

First, however, you ask if they do any good. There is no credible medical evidence that any of these approaches shrinks tumors. They do good by empowering patients, as noted above, to contribute to their own fight.

Second, are there any downsides to these treatments. There are several. Some chemotherapy agents work by creating reactive oxygen intermediates and DNA damage. So some of these products actually can nullify the beneficial effects of chemotherapy. I usually tell me patients that if they do choose to take these alternative treatments, then they should refrain from taking them two days before the chemotherapy treatment up until three days after the treatment. Another downside to these treatments is that sometimes patients get so focused on these treatments that they won't take the more conventional treatments which have a FDA proven track record.

I've seen many patients, AIDS and/or cancer, who have refused conventional life saving drugs so that they could focus on the alternative approaches.


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