By Dr. Mercola
Half of all men and one-third of all women will experience cancer at some point in their lives. Fortunately, there are ways to significantly reduce your risk, as detailed in Dr. Leigh Erin Connealy's book, "The Cancer Revolution: A Groundbreaking Program to Reverse and Prevent Cancer." Connealy's interest in cancer prevention and treatment grew out of her own, long personal health journey.
"[When] my mother was pregnant with me … she started bleeding. The doctor gave her a drug called DES (diethylstilbestrol). That was given to women in the '50s to prevent miscarriage. Approximately 16 years later, my parents received a letter … [saying] 'This drug causes cancer, hormone problems and anatomical problems. You need to go to University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and get a full workup.'
At 16 years of age, I started getting pap smears, colposcopies and biopsies … [T]hey told me … I would need to be followed continuously for this problem. I went to University of Texas School of Public Health and did my Masters on DES … [learning] all about the complications …
I had many of them. Today, I still have many of them. My whole mission is [to avoid] cancer, because I was so high risk. Luckily, in my journey … I met practitioners who'd had cancer themselves and fought it and won. I always tell people, 'You learn from those who have already been down that path and have become masters of healing themselves.'"
Key Anticancer Strategies: Diet and Detoxification
Optimizing your body's ability to burn fat as its primary fuel by eating a ketogenic diet and/or fasting is a foundational aspect of cancer prevention and treatment. Detoxification is another crucial component. Connealy's book contains a chapter focused on detoxification, as most of us are inundated with thousands of toxins each day, many of which have carcinogenic potential.
"Water, air and soil [are contaminated]," she says. "If you're going to live in today's world … the No. 1 thing you need to do is detox on a regular basis, somehow, some way. A lot of it you can do at home all by yourself …
We do heavy metal testing and toxic load testing for all patients … [Phthalates are] the next big thing. Phthalates are everywhere … [and] we know they cause cancer, heart disease and diabetes … Then [there are] the heavy metals — mercury, cadmium, lead, oxides, aluminum and arsenic.
Then [there's] the benzene compounds … indoor air pollution, outdoor air pollution … toxic teeth. People don't realize their teeth are connected to the rest of their body. There are toxins being produced by different infections and/or root canals …
Then you have [water pollution] … Even if you're not taking a prescription by your doctor, you're getting it in the water. Whether it's blood pressure pills, chemo, birth control pills … it's in the water supply. You're getting it regardless of getting water purification."
Simple Detox Strategies
When it comes to water filtration, remember that filtering your shower water may be more important than filtering your drinking water, as you actually absorb three times more chemicals through your skin than when taken orally. There are many ways to eliminate toxins. One of the simplest and perhaps safest ways is to use a low EMF, far-infrared sauna coupled with a near-infrared light, as your skin is a major organ of elimination.
Connealy has had a sauna in her office for nearly 18 years. "I tell people the single greatest investment they can make … is investing in an infrared sauna," she says. Not only is it useful for detoxification, but cancer cells also do not fare well in extreme heat.
Adding ozone to your sauna is another potent anti-cancer strategy. Hooking the ozone generator up to an oxygen generator is ideal. Place the ozone generator in the sauna with a small fan to blow away the excess. Connealy also recommends using organic coffee enemas and taking regular baths with Epsom salt, baking soda and clay.
"The medicinal effects of Epsom salt are phenomenal," she says. "It relaxes the nervous system. Magnesium's involved in 400 chemical reactions in your body. It relaxes the entire muscular system. Then baking soda … It helps oxygenate. It's antimicrobial. It alkalinizes the body. These are simple little things that we can do in the comfort of our home."
She also uses zeolite as a daily detox, along with 10 ounces of fresh green juice each morning and vitamin C, the latter of which has potent antimicrobial, anti-chemical, anticancer, alkalinizing effects. "People sometimes say they can't afford some of these things," Connealy says. "Yes, you can afford it. You've got to put your priorities in place. Health is your most important asset."
On Cancer Screening
Another section of her book addresses cancer screenings. While detecting cancer early is important, many screening tests have been shown to actually do more harm than good, necessitating taking both pros and cons into consideration.
For women, the most commonly used cancer tests are the Pap smear, mammograms and colonoscopies. While Connealy believes the Pap smear is a good tool, she's less enthusiastic about mammograms, calling them "an inadequate, incomplete tool of investigation for cancer, especially if you have dense breasts." In her practice, she recommends ultrasound and thermography instead. She explains her choice, saying:
"The standard of care is for a patient to get mammography. That's what I'm supposed to tell patients. But I tell people, 'Look. You're not going to get all the answers.' I've been doing thermography for a long time. I find most of the breast cancer on thermography, as opposed to mammography."
For men, common cancer screens include the PSA test, which has been shown to be highly inaccurate and has the potential to cause physical harm.
Blood Tests That Help Reveal Your Cancer Risk
Rather than rely on these conventional cancer tests, Connealy uses standard blood tests to check for things like inflammation and insulin resistance, both of which are precursors and hallmarks of all disease, including cancer. One such test is the high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (CRP) test, which is a non-specific marker for inflammation. "It doesn't tell me where the cancer is, but it tells me something is brewing," she says. "We want to see C-reactive protein less than 1."
The other blood test she uses on all patients is the hemoglobin A1C test, which reflects your blood sugar over the past 90 days. The reason for this test is because high blood sugar is a cancer-friendly environment. "Just those two tests … will tell us that you have an environment for cancer," Connealy says. Other valuable blood tests Connealy routinely uses include:
• A cancer profile test (fasting blood and urine) from American Metabolic Laboratories, which checks for:
✓ Quantitative human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG)
✓ Phosphohexose isomerase (PHI), the enzyme of hypoxia or low oxygen, which allows cancer to thrive
✓ Dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEA), a stress hormone
✓ Thyroid hormones, as low thyroid levels may predispose you to cancer
✓ Gamma-glutamyl transferase (GGT), a liver marker and a sensitive screening tool for inflammation
✓ Arachidonyl-2-chloroethylamide (ACEA), a non-specific marker for many cancers
• ONCOblot, which can identify up to 33 tissue types of cancer and has a 95 percent accuracy rate. It measures the ENOX2 protein
• Circulating tumor cell test by the Research Genetic Cancer Center (RGCC). The vast majority of people die not from the tumor itself but from circulating cancer stem cells, which allow the cancer to metastasize and spread throughout the body. This test is used after cancer treatment, to determine whether or not you might need to continue an anti-cancer program. Connealy explains:
"Even if you have surgery, chemo or radiation, it will not eradicate or eliminate circulating tumor cells … The biggest cause of reoccurrence is the circulating tumor cells and stem cells … Anybody who's had cancer must have their circulating tumor cells [or] stem cells checked quantitatively.
RGCC is not the only lab that does it, but … they're in 13 countries [and] have the highest laboratory international certification you can have. It is, to me, probably the most accurate …"
Cancer Prevention Is for Everyone
Connealy explains her core strategy when working with patients in her family practice:
"I try to … figure out where all their imbalances are, whether there are nutritional deficiencies, toxic substances, heavy metals, do they have the right antioxidants, are their mitochondria working or not working? Then I do all the hormone testing. I also look for cancer, because we all have to embrace this prevention …
Today we have this incredible laboratory testing … I do the nutritional testing, and it's not just nutritional checking. It checks their gut. It checks their antioxidants. It checks everything. You know what you're dealing with more specifically. Believe it or not, the insurance companies pay for all these tests. It's not like it's financially unaffordable because all the insurance companies pretty much pay for all of these, whether it's blood testing and/or nutritional testing."
She also employs nutritional supplements known to improve mitochondrial function and/or aid in the elimination of cancer stem cells. There are approximately 50 different agents with a known effect on circulating tumor cells and stem cells, including vitamin C, vitamin D, curcumin and agaricus, a type of mushroom.
In regard to vitamin C — which recently made headlines when researchers found intravenous (IV) vitamin C doubles the effectiveness of chemotherapy and radiation treatment — the vitamin works by producing hydrogen peroxide. This oxidative stress is what kills the cancer cells, while healthy cells have several pathways by which they can eliminate the hydrogen peroxide.
Combining IV vitamin C with nutritional ketosis and fasting for 14 to 48 hours before and during chemo has been shown to produce even more remarkable results, as detailed in a recent interview with Dr. Abdul Slocum.
In certain cases, Connealy will add vitamin K3 to her vitamin C protocol. K3 is a synthetic form of vitamin K2, designed for tumors that have high catalase. In addition to these natural agents, most of which are rotated, not given all at once, she uses supportive oligonucleotide technique (SOT) therapy.
SOT therapy involves taking circulating tumor cells and reverse engineering a messenger RNA (mRNA) to disrupt the DNA of the circulating tumor cells. That mRNA is then given back intravenously, and has a 24-hour, seven-days-a-week targeted killing effect that lasts for about four and a half months. While it cannot be used for masses (tumors), it attacks the circulating tumor cells, which are responsible for 95 percent of metastasis and death.
Treatment Alternatives: Cryotherapy, IPT Chemo and Hyperthermic Therapy
While surgery, chemotherapy and radiation are a standard part of conventional cancer care, Connealy does things a bit differently. For example, she recently started working with an interventional radiologist who does cryotherapy, which is where you freeze the cells.
"I had a patient with a very large grapefruit-sized tumor on her right chest wall, a neuroendocrine tumor. She had breast cancer on her left breast and a neuroendocrine tumor [on her right]. She'd already been treated by other doctors [who] said they could not do anything. She came to see me. The neuroendocrine tumor is now gone from the cryo procedure. The left [tumor] is partially gone …
If it's something small that we can approach, I will recommend cryo because surgery is a very intrusive procedure … In some patients, you do everything [to] get rid of the tumor burden because the tumor burden is immunosuppressant. Patients may need chemo. If I have patients who have cancer in multiple locations in the body, I will recommend IPT chemo. That's insulin potentiation therapy with chemo.
IPT chemo is using a low-dose chemo after I do the sensitivity testing with RGCC. It will tell me the ideal agents for these particular patients. We will make a cocktail. We give insulin. It lowers the blood sugar to a therapeutic moment. We give the chemo drugs … and then we drop a bag of sugar.
I also got a machine from France called iTherm. I've been using the iTherm machine on some cancers. When you get your RGCC testing, it tells me whether your cells respond to heat shock protein. It will tell me the three different proteins and the sensitivity.
Specific cancers, like breast cancer, [are] very easy to treat with the hyperthermia machine. We trained with the doctor in France who only allows integrative treatments if you have stage 3 or 4 cancer. He spent a lot of time with us in conference calls, elaborating us on this particular treatment protocol.
I will combine that with mistletoe, an immune-modulating natural substance. We combine all those things together. Because the first thing we have to do if we have lots of tumor burden is to … shrink it down to a manageable problem. Then if it's easily accessible with a cryo or a surgical procedure, we will do that. I've had cases where a breast tumor of 9 centimeters with low-dose chemo and hypodermic mistletoe goes down to nothing in one month."
Connealy has done a great job of compiling a variety of valuable resources into her book, "The Cancer Revolution." If you or someone you love is faced with cancer, it's definitely worth reading. To learn more about Connealy's clinic and to purchase her book, please visit www.connealymd.com/.
As for finding an open-minded oncologist or doctor willing to implement these kinds of integrative methods, an organization called The Best Answer for Cancer is a helpful resource that lists qualified physicians. You can find more information at www.bestanswerforcancer.org. It's a hybrid non-profit that services both integrative physicians and patients with cancer and other chronic disease.
I also recently interviewed Dr. William LaValley, who has created state-of-the-art databases of studies covering the molecular biology of cancer, and the anti-cancer benefits of nutritional supplements and repurposed drugs (drugs used off-label). Keep your eye out for that important interview, which should be published shortly. LaValley also trains and collaborates with oncologists and physicians to treat cancer patients using evidence-based molecularly targeted treatments.
You can find more information on his website, lavalleymdprotocols.com. This is yet another resource both you and your doctor can peruse. Last but not least, while integrative cancer treatments are showing great promise, please remember that your day-to-day choices play a paramount role in your treatment success. As noted by Connealy:
"Optimize your eating, your detox, your hormones, inflammatory nutrient levels. Don't go spend $10,000 or $20,000 on a procedure in a dirty body. Get your body prepared. I prepare my patients two weeks before they even have a surgical procedure. Don't go have surgery when you don't have good nutrient levels, when you don't have a good immune system, when you have inflammation. Get the body ready. The outcome would be outrageously improved."
One of the things virtually all of us can do is to make food choices that allow your body to burn fat as its primary fuel. I describe a modified ketogenic cyclical diet that accomplishes this in my book "Fat for Fuel." Even if you're choosing conventional therapy, nutritional ketosis can be tremendously helpful.