Can You Beat Cancer?
“It would seem, therefore, that the majority of human cancer is potentially preventible.”—The Causes of Cancer.
“A patient’s life-style and willingness to participate in the healing process can significantly affect the course of his or her health.”—Holistic Medicine.
HOW can cancer be beaten? We are going to examine what is being done to cure the disease or to fend off its ravages. However, an adage says that prevention is better than cure. So let us first consider the possibilities of prevention through diet.
Can Diet Make a Difference?
Is it possible that some of the food we eat could trigger cancer? The book Malignant Neglect states: “The high rates of colon and breast cancer in the United States have been attributed in good part to diet.” So, what you eat over the years can influence the possibilities of a cancer being initiated. Thus the person interested in good health should be discriminating in what he or she eats and drinks.
Diet also includes the liquid intake. Since alcohol abuse can lead to various cancers, the obvious counsel is to drink only in moderation. But what do the doctors consider to be “moderation”? The answer may surprise many who believe they are moderate drinkers: “Two or fewer drinks a day, especially if you smoke.” (Diet, Nutrition & Cancer Prevention) By this definition, if you take more than two drinks a day, in this cancer-prevention context, you are no longer moderate.
The vital point is that we can do something about cancer if we individually take preventive action. But what is needed for preventive measures to have an impact on the public? Cancer surgeon Blake Cady put it bluntly: “A public education program that would . . . wean people off high-fat meats toward lower fat, toward lower-cholesterol diets, would do more than medicine will ever do by intervention to lower the cancer rate.” (Target: Cancer) In that case, what foods can help stave off cancer?
One government health agency recommends that your diet should provide at least 25-35 grams (about one ounce) of natural fiber a day. This helps to keep the intestines naturally cleaned. But how do you get fiber in your food? Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, peas, beans, and whole-grain bread and cereals. Eat foods such as potatoes, apples, pears, and peaches with their skins on. Vegetables from the cabbage family may also reduce risk of colon cancer.
Another recommendation is to avoid animal fats. Poultry and fish are recommended over red meat. If you do choose meat, then make sure it has little fat on it or in it. Choose low-fat or skim-milk dairy products. Include foods that contain vitamins A and C, such as the dark green leafy vegetables—broccoli, kale, spinach, chicory, watercress, beets, and even dandelion greens! Another good food color revealing vitamins A and C is yellow-orange: vegetables—carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, squash; fruits—apricots, cantaloupes, papayas, peaches, pineapples, and melons, to name just a few.
Diet, Nutrition & Cancer Prevention also states: “The evidence is growing that eating too much fat (both saturated and unsaturated) may increase your chances of getting cancers of the colon, breast, prostate, and endometrium [lining of the uterus].” Then what is the conclusion? That your diet can make a difference in many cancers.
What other products should we avoid if we want to minimize the risk of cancer? Although this may not be a popular recommendation with some, we have to examine the role of tobacco.
What They Say About Tobacco Is True
Oxford University experts Doll and Peto wrote: “No single measure is known that would have as great an impact on the number of deaths attributable to cancer as a reduction in the use of tobacco . . . The principal impact would be on the incidence of cancer of the lung, which by late middle age is more than ten times greater in regular cigarette smokers than in lifelong non-smokers.”
The eradication of smoking would also reduce the frequency of other cancers. “A material effect would also be produced on the incidence of cancers of the mouth, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, bladder, probably the pancreas, and perhaps the kidney.”—The Causes of Cancer.
Chemicals That Kill
Do you breathe chemical products at your place of work, or come into skin contact with them? Recent research has established that some chemicals can trigger a cancer reaction. According to David P. Rall, director of the U.S. National Toxicology Program, evidence suggests that “18 chemicals are capable of causing cancer in man and another 18 are suspected.” The U.S. health publication Decade of Discovery states: “A single chemical can act as both initiator and promoter, or two or more chemicals can interact to produce a tumor.” In that case, what are some of the risky chemicals and occupations?
The publication The Causes of Cancer lists alkylating agents, aromatic amines, asbestos, benzene, vinyl chloride, and certain compounds or oxidation states of arsenic, cadmium, chromium, and nickel. It also indicates risky occupations to be hardwood-furniture and leather-goods manufacture, as well as the production of isopropyl alcohol. Then what can you do if any of these factors are implicated in your work?
Usually, responsible employers will take steps to eliminate the danger of contamination. In some cases, increased ventilation has served to remove vapors more quickly from the work area. In other situations, workers spend briefer periods in a danger area. Protective clothing and respirators are used. However, a word of warning is appropriate here.
“Most companies don’t even know these chemicals exist, or if they know they exist, then they have no idea that there is such a thing as a carcinogen.” (Decade of Discovery) In such cases, what can you do? If your employer is not willing to protect you, then you might have to weigh the advisability of changing your job. After all, your health is one of your most valuable assets.
So can you do something to beat cancer? First answer these questions: Do you love life, good health, and vitality? Are you impressed by the marvelous gift of a healthy body? Do you want to beat cancer? If you answer yes, then you can develop sufficient motivation to make changes in your life-style, changes that will serve to lessen your chances of initiating cancer in your own body. (See the graph on page 6.)
Early Diagnosis—First Step to Cure
What if prevention is too late? Science writer Edward J. Sylvester states that there “is still good news for those fearing they may get cancer . . . , but . . . most advances in cancer treatment are related to early diagnosis.” Therefore, all the experts in the field counsel alertness toward cancer’s possible warning signals. What can you watch out for as early warning signals? Some of these are:
1. A change in bowel or bladder patterns or habits.
2. A sore that does not heal.
3. Unusual bleeding or discharge.
4. Thickening or lump in breast or elsewhere.
5. Regular indigestion or difficulty in swallowing.
6. Obvious change in a wart or mole.
7. Constant nagging cough or hoarseness.
8. Recent unexplained weight loss.
On the first evidence of any of these symptoms, a doctor should be consulted. Of course, the symptom might not be indicative of cancer. But the sooner you find out, the better.
New advances have been made in early detection of tumors by means of mammography, thermograms, sonograms (ultra sound pictures), CAT scans, Pap smears, and excreta tests. Now the technicians have come up with an even more precise early diagnosis system called MRI (magnetic resonance imaging). As writer John Boal explains, the MRI scan is “a noninvasive, radiation-free, and painless procedure.” It is so effective that “in a recent study at Huntington Medical, brain tumors were found in 93 patients in which CAT scans had found no brain abnormalities.” (American Way) Although a very expensive item, it is expected that by the end of 1986, there will be some 300 installed in U.S. hospitals.
Your Attitude and a Doctor’s Suggestions
Often the first reaction on being told that one has cancer is denial, refusal to believe it. In his book The Facts About Cancer, Dr. McKhann states that denial is “a very important normal and healthy defense mechanism against life-threatening situations or information. It has been described as the ‘morphine of the soul’ and is the way we reject thoughts too painful to endure. We actually buy time to gather up our emotional strength to face reality, often letting reality come in slowly so it will not overwhelm us.”
However, he offers a warning: “Intense and prolonged denial can prevent you from seeking early medical attention or cause you to reject medical advice and treatment by failing to accept the diagnosis.”
Another reaction may be fear or anger. It will be helpful for all to understand that “the target of anger may be . . . family, God, fate, doctors, nurses, the hospital or the disease itself.”
Guilt often invades the cancer patient’s mind. The sick husband feels guilty because he may no longer be able to support his family properly; the wife, because she can no longer care for the home as she used to. As Dr. McKhann counsels: “You will find it much more comfortable to regret that you cannot do something rather than feeling guilty about it.”
A further common reaction for cancer patients is depression, which can lead to feelings of hopelessness and gloom. How does Dr. McKhann view all these reactions? “Unpleasant as they are, all these strong reactions are perfectly normal. . . . They represent responses to the disease and are not part of the disease itself.”
He suggests: “Your confrontation with cancer will require that you fight many battles. You will win some, but you must also expect to lose a few. . . . To understand what is required, you must study your enemy. This means learning how cancer attacks your body, but more important, how it attacks your person, the real you.”
Facing Up to Cancer Treatment
In certain respects, the crusade against cancer is slowly paying off, and in recent decades the results have been more encouraging. Doctors, scientists, and researchers feel that they can see a small light at the end of the tunnel. This has introduced a vital factor into the war against cancer—hope. As Dr. McKhann says: “Probably the single most important requirement for living with cancer is hope . . . , one of the most mysterious and sustaining values in life.” Recovery feeds on hope while the cancer prospers on despair. But from where can a cancer patient get hope?
There are several sources, but three outstanding ones are: (a) doctors and nurses who are sympathetic and optimistic, (b) your loved ones, especially a marriage mate who thinks positively, (c) well-founded religious faith. Our final article in this series will comment on the aspect of faith and on the true basis for hope for the future.*
In medical terms, a solid basis for hope is in the three major orthodox treatments for cancer—surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. What are these three methods?
Surgery involves the surgical removal of the tumorous growth and perhaps some surrounding tissue.
Chemotherapy (chemical therapy) is the treatment of cancer with drugs that can spread through the body and attack tumor cells. “Over fifty chemicals are used to treat cancer and some tumors can be cured.”—The Facts About Cancer.
Radiation therapy is the use of high-energy radiation from X ray, cobalt, radium, and other sources in order to destroy the malignant cells.
Facing Up to Side Effects
It would not be fair to speak about success in cancer treatment without also mentioning the risks or side effects. Reduced to the simplest terms, “chemotherapy drugs are toxins [poisons],” and “some of these drug regimens are so toxic that patients die of their side effects.” (Target: Cancer) Thus, since chemotherapy is a poisoning of the system, it is a two-edged sword. Hopefully it kills more malignant cells than healthy ones. But it can also lead to other drastic secondary effects, such as nausea, vomiting, and temporary loss of hair. Many patients, though, have felt that temporary undesirable side effects are better than premature loss of life.
Radiation therapy is really a burning process that destroys all the cells it touches. However, it can be focused on the exact area of the tumor. Nevertheless, one authority says that “radiation therapy has been strongly implicated in causing later cancers.” This presents a trade-off situation in which the patient must decide.
Some doctors admit that sometimes they use these therapies even when, from their viewpoint, there is no hope for the patient. As Chilean surgeon Dr. Villar admits: “Sometimes, cancer treatment is a very expensive—very expensive—form of psychotherapy.” Science writer Sylvester points out that “Villar’s insight [is] shared by many cancer physicians who are concerned that even highly toxic treatments are ordered without evidence that they are helping.” Then why are they recommended? “Because a doctor feels, in the words of one critical medical oncologist: ‘I can’t just let the poor lady die.’”—Target: Cancer.
Yet, many people prefer to live out their lives without treatment that will only prolong their suffering. Particularly is this the case when the therapy cannot help them and may even add to their suffering.
Can Breast Cancer Be Beaten?
Perhaps one of the most feared cancers for women, and even for some men, is breast cancer—not only for its mortality rate but also for its aesthetic and psychological effects. What can you do to avoid the removal of a breast, known as a mastectomy? An essential factor is early diagnosis.
Although women are advised to do self-examination of the breasts for the appearance of any lump, it is suggested that women with larger breasts have an annual mammography, or breast X-ray examination. Why is that? Because it is difficult to notice a lump deep in the tissue just by simple palpation. As Dr. Cory SerVaas advised: “Your chances of being counted among the fortunate are much better if you go for your first mammogram once you’ve reached the age of 35 or 40.” Why is that the case? “For most types of breast cancer the five-year survival rate is more than 85 percent for cancers discovered while in Stage I.”
Nowadays there are X-ray machines that can do a mammography at a very low level of radiation. This minimizes the possibility of provoking a cancer by excess radiation.
Another aid to very early diagnosis is the thermogram, which is a temperature scan of the breast. “Tumors develop their own blood supplies, needing vast amounts of blood’s oxygen energy for their growth. . . . [They] form hot spots, spewing energy in far greater amounts than normal cells.” (Target: Cancer) This allows early detection of the “hot spot” by the thermogram.
In the past, surgery for breast cancer often involved radical mastectomy—a disfiguring removal of the breast and surrounding muscle tissue and the lymph nodes. Is that still viewed as essential? Dr. Bernard Fisher, an expert in the breast cancer field, concluded that not only was radical mastectomy not usually justified but “simple mastectomy, the removal of all breast tissue, did not appear to improve survival over mere lumpectomies [removal of a lump only] with and without radiation treatment.”
Any Other Choice of Treatment?
Up to this point, we have only considered the orthodox medical approaches to cancer treatment. It is only right to mention that some patients have resorted to other methods with varying degrees of success and failure. Examples of these are Laetrile (Vitamin B17) treatment, the Hoxsey treatment using herbs and certain chemicals, and another method established by Dr. William D. Kelley, a dentist, based on the belief that cancer “indicates an active pancreatic enzyme deficiency.”—One Answer to Cancer.
In addition, as stated in Target: Cancer: “There are large numbers of people, some physicians among them, who subscribe to a ‘holistic’ idea of the cause, cure, and prevention of cancer and other diseases: Cancer is a disease ‘caused’ by the whole human going out of whack, and conscious effort on the human’s part can restore health. Many reputable people believe this, and many former cancer victims swear they have been cured by following prescriptions based on a holistic rather than a reductionist view of health.”
One of these former victims is Alice, a jovial woman in her 50’s, from British Columbia, Canada. Yet, 36 years ago, she had her first surgery for a small malignant tumor on her hand. Six years later, she had surgery for cancer of the ovary. Then, in 1960, a hysterectomy (surgical removal of the uterus) was performed.
Cancer recurred in 1965, and again surgery was recommended. Alice says: “They wanted to perform a colostomy and a mastectomy, and I didn’t want that. By then I had had enough of surgery. So I went for the Hoxsey treatment in Mexico. I followed their method for 11 years. For me it worked, although I know that it hasn’t always worked for others. I have had no recurrence of cancer since then.”
Another person who has had success in her struggle against cancer is Rose Marie. She tells her story next.
The October 22 issue of Awake! will include an article on the supportive role of the medical staff and relatives.
[Box on page 13]
Although Awake! mentions these different methods, we do not take a stand on their effectiveness. As Dr. Kelley admitted: “It should always be in mind that there is great risk in any program [orthodox or unorthodox] that you choose or in any combination of programs.” Therefore, we try to inform on the current situation, but we let each individual make his or her own decision after study and consultation with qualified physicians.
[Graph on page 10]
(For fully formatted text, see publication.)
SAMPLE COMPARISON OF DEATHS DUE TO CANCER IN MALE TOBACCO SMOKERS AS AGAINST ANTICIPATED FIGURE FOR NONSMOKERS*
Each man represents 100 deaths
NON-SMOKERS 231 Deaths Expected
SMOKERS 2,609 Deaths Observed
MOUTH AND THROAT CANCER
NON-SMOKERS 65 Deaths Expected
SMOKERS 452 Deaths Observed
Based on deaths by mid-1970 of men in the United States who were cigarette smokers in the 1950’s.—See The Causes of Cancer, page 1221.
[Pictures on page 9]
These foods provide natural fiber and vitamins as a protection against cancer