Recommendations on how to treat cancer are easy to find, but many new immunotherapy or targeted therapy drugs require a golden goose for payment.
In our quest to help you the cancer patient, we would like to share a few free or cheap ways to make your body hostile to cancer. The 5 methods we present are based off of large epidemiological studies and widely accepted research on tumor biology and immune function.
#1 Eliminate Processed Sugar and Carbs
Sugar is a major factor in cancer cell growth. In fact, ahead of all other nutrients, cancer cells prefer to use sugar for energy. This is so pervasive that sugar consumption by cancer cells has a name – “The Warburg Effect.”
The Warburg effect is even used as rational for diagnosing cancer with a PET scan. PET scans work by labeling sugar with a nuclear dye. After a patient ingests the labeled sugar, a special instrument detects where the sugar and dye accumulate in the body.
Since cancer cells are reliant on sugar, the dye tends to light up tumors. It seems reasonable to say that if we use sugar accumulation to diagnose cancer, then we should avoid sugar at all costs!
2# Intermittent Fasting
New research suggests that intermittent fasting decreases your risk for cancer and can potentially slow cancer growth or spread. In this context we consider ‘intermittent fasting’ to be fasting for 12-16 hours a day, preferably closer to the 14-16h range.
The logic behind intermittent fasting is related to #1, which is a reduction in sugar. When you fast each day, you force your stomach to completely empty. This will significantly reduce your blood sugar levels, which decreases the energy supply to a tumor.
Intermittent fasting may also have a positive effect on bacterial populations in your digestive tract. Which is important because there is a complex interplay between gut flora and your immune system.
Research Review: Starvation, Stress Resistance, and Cancer
#3 Regular Exercise
Exercise is one of the most important ways to keep your body healthy. There are countless studies that show a link between regular exercise and a lower risk for chronic diseases such as cancer. People who exercise while on cancer treatment also tend to have better outcomes.
Increased lymphatic flow is one of the positive effects that exercise has on your immune system. Your lymphatic system is the highway that immune cells use to move around your body. Immune cells use that highway as they search for infections or cancer cells.
Exercise might limit the risk for chronic diseases because it increases immune surveillance through increased lymph flow. Increased surveillance positions your immune system to better destroy foreign invaders or cancer cells.
In the era of cancer immunotherapy, it is reasonable to say that maintaining a healthy immune system is an important part of being a cancer patient.
4# Adequate Sleep
Adequate sleep is another way to keep your immune system strong because there is ample evidence that your immune system regenerates while you sleep.
As mentioned above, the successes of immunotherapy illustrate the importance of a healthy immune system for fighting cancer. On their website, Harvard Medical School even lists sleep as a way to maintain a healthy immune system: How to Boost Your Immune System .
Large epidemiological studies have consistently shown that people who take a single aspirin a day have a decreased risk of cancer. Some studies show that aspirin decreases the risk that certain cancers will spread.
Many tumors make high amounts of prostaglandins, which are pro-inflammatory molecules involved in blood vessel formation. Blood vessels bring tumors more nutrients and inflammatory signals generally increase the rate of cell growth and division.
Aspirin inhibits this process because it is an irreversible inhibitor of the enzymes COX-1 and COX-2, which are necessary for the formation of prostaglandins.
The National Cancer Institute’s website even has a page about aspirin’s effects on cancer: here
Do Your Best
As you can see, maintaining a healthy diet and immune system are great ways to fight cancer- for free. Aspirin is also a cheap way to tip the scales in your favor. Nobody is perfect but do your best to keep these factors in mind if you or your loved one are fighting cancer.
Remember, our 5 recommendations should not be used as a substitute for medical advice and you should discuss major changes to your diet or exercise program with your medical team.
However we do believe that it is important that you do whatever you can to make your body hostile to cancer and these 5 methods may fit that bill.
Note: Avoiding tobacco and alcohol are well known ways to prevent and fight off cancer. Here is a link to the American Cancer Society’s page about quitting smoking.