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Breaking News: Popular Cancer Drug "Avandia" Declared More Harmful Than Helpful

January 07, 2011 | 147,517 views

breast cancerThe FDA has said that the controversial drug Avastin should be phased out as a treatment for metastatic breast cancer. Recent studies show that its benefits are outweighed by dangerous side effects.

The announcement does not affect Avastin's status as a drug that can be prescribed for lung cancer, kidney cancer, colorectal cancer and brain cancer.

In 2008, the FDA granted Avastin accelerated approval for use to treat metastatic breast cancer. But studies have failed to show that patients getting Avastin lived longer than patients on standard chemotherapies.

According to CNN:

"Along with those disappointing findings, serious side effects became apparent in patients taking Avastin, including high blood pressure, internal bleeding, perforated internal organs, heart failure and heart attacks, and in some cases, even swelling of the brain."

Genentech, which makes Avastin, has a right to appeal the decision.

Folks, the best way of preventing breast cancer isn't a drug at all, and it's free! 

Sun exposure may be the single most effective means of reducing breast cancer, thanks to vitamin D, which forms in your body in reaction to sunlight.  In a recent study, data collected over a decade from more than 67,000 women showed that women in sunny climes with high vitamin D levels were at a significantly reduced risk of breast cancer!

 

Dr. Mercola's Comments:

Surgery, drugs and radiation are typically the only solutions offered by conventional physicians to treat cancer, and upon receiving a cancer diagnosis most people are willing to do just about anything to get better. This includes taking dangerous and outrageously expensive medications that offer little, if any, benefit.

Case in point: Avastin.

Popular Breast Cancer Drug Proven More Harmful than Helpful

Avastin, which costs about $8,000 a month and is one of the best-selling cancer drugs in the world, is now being phased out in the US due to lack of effectiveness and dangerous side effects.

As reported by CNN, the FDA has deemed the drug to be more harmful than beneficial based on recent studies, and recommends phasing it out as a treatment for metastatic breast cancer.

The drug will still maintain its status as an approved therapy for lung-, kidney-, colorectal- and brain cancer, however.

The European Medicines Agency is also altering its recommendation, but rather than withdrawing approval entirely, Avastin will now only be prescribed in combination with the drug Paclitaxel for the treatment of breast cancer in the EU.

CNN reports:

"Along with the initial approval, the FDA required Genentech, Avastin's maker, to complete larger studies. The results of those studies were a bitter pill for patients thriving on Avastin and researchers excited by the promise of the early data.

The E2100 study found that for women taking Avastin plus Paclitaxel, the cancer stopped spreading for an average of five-and-a-half months more, compared to those just taking standard chemotherapy.

In the subsequent three larger studies, the benefit was much smaller, ranging from just 24 days to about two months.

None of the studies, including the E2100 study, showed that patients getting Avastin lived longer than patients on standard chemotherapies. "We now have four studies that show no survival benefit," Woodcock said."

Serious side effects from the drug have also become apparent, including:

  • High blood pressure
  • Internal bleeding
  • Perforated internal organs
  • Heart failure
  • Heart attacks
  • Swelling of the brain

Avastin isn't the only popular cancer drug that's come on the chopping block in recent years.

For example, in 2009 it was determined that long-term use of the common breast cancer drug Tamoxifen could increase your risk of developing a deadly second tumor.

Chemotherapy—Cancer Patients' Friend or Foe?

Chemo is another cancer treatment that frequently does more harm than good, although I doubt we'll see recommendations changing on its use anytime soon. As poor a choice as it is, it's one of the most popular treatment strategies conventional medicine has been able to conjure.

But despite its reputation as the gold-standard in cancer treatment, chemotherapy has an average 5-year survival success rate of just over 2 percent for all cancers, according to a study published in the journal Clinical Oncology in December 2004.

Another study, The National Confidential Enquiry into Patient Outcome and Death (NCEPOD), found that more than four in 10 patients who received chemotherapy toward the end of life experienced potentially fatal effects. And after reviewing data from over 600 cancer patients who died within 30 days of receiving treatment, it was found that chemotherapy hastened or caused death in 27 percent of those cases.

It's important to realize that chemotherapy drugs are, by their very nature, extremely toxic and typically do not work with your body to modulate and normalize its response to allow the cancer to resolve normally and they do absolutely nothing to address the cause of the cancer.

Natural approaches, on the other hand, do not have the types of fatal side effects common with cancer drugs because they work by optimizing your body's own natural healing capacities. And, fortunately, there are natural approaches that rival and/or exceed the limited effectiveness of conventional therapies, without the risks.

The caveat, however, is that you must typically use them preventively.

Two of the most important preventive strategies are vitamin D and diet.

Vitamin D—Nature's Number One Cancer Fighter!

Today, it's virtually impossible to discuss cancer prevention without stressing the importance of vitamin D. The scientific evidence backing its anti-cancerous benefits is truly impressive.

One of the most recent additions is a study published in the December 2, 2010 issue of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention. The researchers collected data over a decade from more than 67,700 women, concluding that women in sunny climes with high vitamin D levels were at a significantly reduced risk of breast cancer.

The authors state that:

"Our results suggest that a threshold of vitamin D…  is required to prevent breast cancer, and this threshold is particularly difficult to reach in postmenopausal women at northern latitudes where quality of sunlight is too poor for adequate vitamin D production."

Interestingly, this study highlights the importance of actual sun exposure, as opposed to getting your vitamin D primarily from supplements alone. The authors noted:

"Dietary and supplemental vitamin D intakes were not associated with BC risk; however, in regions with the highest mean daily Ultraviolet Radiation dose, postmenopausal women with high dietary or supplemental vitamin D intake had a significantly lower BC risk as compared to women with the lowest vitamin D intake."

One explanation for vitamin D's ability to prevent cancer is because it literally regulates the expression of one out of every 10 of your genes. For many, this will come as a relief; just because your mother or sister suffered from breast cancer, it does not mean that you are destined for the same fate.

As proven through the Genome Project, each one of your genes can create up to 30,000 proteins, any and all of which can create a different outcome. So the fact that you may have a genetic "predisposition" for cancer (or any other illness) does not mean you have "no say" in the matter.

Life-style related factors can either activate or suppress your genetic expression, and your vitamin D status is one key lifestyle factor.

Additionally, researchers have discovered that vitamin D can kill cancer cells in a more direct fashion.

In one recent study, researchers took human breast cancer cells and treated them with a potent form of vitamin D. Within a few days, half the cancer cells shriveled up and died.

The vitamin D worked as well at killing cancer cells as the toxic breast cancer drug Tamoxifen, without any of the detrimental side effects and at a fraction of the cost.

 It is believed that simply raising the population's vitamin D levels could prevent about 350,000 cases of breast cancer worldwide each year.

Various theories linking vitamin D to certain cancers have been tested and confirmed in more than 200 epidemiological studies, and understanding of its physiological basis stems from more than 2,500 laboratory studies, according to epidemiologist Cedric Garland, DrPH, professor of family and preventive medicine at the UC San Diego School of Medicine.

From my perspective, it's nothing short of criminal malpractice not to recommend vitamin D and aggressively monitor a breast cancer patient's vitamin D level to get it between 70 and 100 ng/ml.

Vitamin D works synergistically with every cancer treatment I am aware of and has no adverse effects.

For more information, please watch my one-hour free lecture on vitamin D to find out what your optimal vitamin D levels should be … and how to get them there.

Remember, this is one of the most important steps you can take to protect yourself from cancer. Normalizing your vitamin D levels with safe amounts of sun exposure is one of the most effective, and least expensive, strategies that is available to most people. Ideally, you'll want to monitor your vitamin D levels regularly, to ensure your levels stay within a therapeutic range year-round.

Aside from vitamin D, another cancer-fighting contender worth a special discussion is the "anti-angiogenetic diet."

"Starving" Cancer, Without Drugs

The cancer drug Avastin works by inhibiting the blood supply to the tumor, a mechanism called anti-angiogenesis. But did you know that certain foods have been found to perform this same function?

Last year I posted a video in which Dr. William Li discusses how eating cancer-fighting foods can beat cancer at its own game, by preventing the growth of blood vessels that feed tumors.

Like all other cells in your body, cancer cells cannot thrive without the oxygen and nutrients supplied by the blood in your capillaries (the smallest blood vessels in your body).

"Angiogenesis" is the process your body uses to build these blood vessels. Excessive angiogenesis (too many blood vessels) promote diseases such as cancer.

"Anti-angiogenesis"—which is the basis for about a dozen different cancer drugs, including Avastin—is the opposite process, where blood vessel growth is inhibited and hence cells are starved of nutrients.

The majority of people carry microscopic cancer cell clusters in their bodies, yet not everyone develops cancer. This is because as long as your body has the ability to balance angiogenesis properly, it will prevent blood vessels from forming to feed these microscopic tumors.

Trouble will only arise if, and when, the cancer cells manage to get their own blood supply, at which point they can transform from harmless to deadly.

However, taking a drug to promote anti-angiogenesis (starving the tumor) once you've been diagnosed with cancer is not the solution to our current cancer epidemic.

The real answer is preventing cancer from occurring in the first place, and that's where Dr. Li's research comes into play.

The Cancer-Preventive Diet

As it turns out, Mother Nature has laced a large number of foods, beverages and herbs with naturally occurring inhibitors of angiogenesis, making them potent anti-cancer "treatments."

In fact, Dr. Li claims some foods equal or exceed the potency of anti-angiogenetic drugs! Examples include parsley, garlic, and red grapes.

By making anti-angiogenetic foods a regular part of your diet, you can naturally boost your body's defense system and prevent blood vessels from forming and feeding the microscopic tumors that exist in your body at any given time.

According to Dr. Li, diet accounts for at least 30-35 percent of all environmentally caused cancers. So, "eating to starve cancer" could have a dramatic impact on worldwide cancer rates.

Two of the most potent anti-angionetic foods are:

  1. Ellagic acid found in strawberries
  2. Resveratrol from red grapes

According to Dr. Li, resveratrol has been found to inhibit abnormal capillary growth (angiogenesis) by 60 percent!

Other anti-angiogenetic foods include:

Green tea Berries: blackberries, raspberries, blueberries Cherries
Red grapes Kale Turmeric
Nutmeg Artichokes Parsley
Garlic Tomato Maitake mushroom

It's also worth mentioning that we're really talking about whole foods, not individual compounds. Researchers have found that certain combinations of foods with low anti-angiogenetic properties can have greater potency when taken together. This is due to the synergy of the food, where the whole is far greater than its individual parts.

It is in fact this natural synergy that makes fresh, whole foods so potently nutritious! So, don't obsess about individual nutrients. Focus instead on a varied diet of whole, unprocessed and unadulterated foods for optimal health benefits.

Thermography as Preventive Medicine

Before I get to the remainder of my cancer prevention strategies, I want to quickly address the most common form of conventional "prevention," namely mammograms.

First of all, there is no solid evidence that mammograms save lives, but there is evidence to the contrary. In fact, the health hazards of mammography have been well established. 

Fortunately, there are safer alternatives. The option for breast screening that I most highly recommend is called thermography. It's both painless and risk-free, as thermography scanning does not involve compression of tissue nor radiation.

Instead, thermography uses an infrared camera to graphically illustrate skin temperature by way of a color image, in which degrees of heat appear as different colors. In this way, you can observe physiological changes and metabolic processes.

You can think of thermography as preventive medicine that can be used to detect, control and even prevent serious illness or disease that otherwise would not be diagnosed until it is well-advanced.

You can learn more about thermography at my Thermography Diagnostics Center, but in short, thermography allows you to detect the beginnings of disease sooner, so you're able to take proactive treatment steps to heal your body before disease manifests.

Other Important Strategies that Can Help Prevent Cancer

Lastly, here are several additional strategies you can incorporate to virtually eliminate your cancer risk:

  1. Control your insulin levels by limiting your intake of processed foods and sugars, especially fructose, as much as possible.
  2. Get appropriate amounts of animal-based omega-3 fats.
  3. Exercise. One of the primary reasons exercise works is that it drives your insulin levels down. Controlling insulin levels is one of the most powerful ways to reduce your cancer risks.
  4. Have a tool to permanently erase the neurological short-circuiting that can activate cancer genes. Even the CDC states that 85 percent of disease is caused by emotions. It is likely that this factor may be more important than all the other physical ones listed here, so make sure this is addressed. My particular favorite tool for this purpose, as you may know, is the Emotional Freedom Technique.
  5. Only 25 percent of people eat enough vegetables, so by all means eat as many vegetables as you are comfortable with. Ideally, they should be fresh and organic. Remember to adjust your intake depending on your nutritional type. If you are a carb nutritional type you may need up to 300 percent more vegetables than a protein nutritional type.
  6. Maintain an ideal body weight. This will come naturally when you begin eating right for your nutritional type and exercising. It's important to lose excess weight because estrogen, a hormone produced in fat tissue, may trigger breast cancer.
  7. Get enough high-quality sleep.
  8. Reduce your exposure to environmental toxins like pesticides, household chemical cleaners, synthetic air fresheners and air pollution.
  9. Boil, poach or steam your foods, rather than frying or charbroiling them.
  10. Breastfeed exclusively for up to six months. Research shows this too will reduce your breast cancer risk.

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