Holistic Treatment for Breast Cancer Jamaica Plain MA

Adding complementary therapies to your treatment plan can both improve your prognosis and help you feel better. Integrative oncologists agree that when it comes to breast cancer, conventional therapies such as surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation may be unavoidable.

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By Meghan Rabbitt

Adding complementary therapies to your treatment plan can both improve your prognosis and help you feel better. Integrative oncologists agree that when it comes to breast cancer, conventional therapies such as surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation may be unavoidable. But the following holistic strategies offer healing benefits.

Acupuncture
In this ancient Chinese medical treatment, thin, sterile, stainless steel needles are inserted at specific “acupoints” on the body that lie in meridians or channels through which energy, or qi, flows. Stimulation of these points may activate key portions of the nervous system, resulting in the release of natural pain-killers and a boost to immune cells. These cells are particularly useful in weakened areas of the body and help relieve symptoms such as fatigue, hot fl ashes, nausea, and pain. Acupuncture’s individualized approach is key, says M. Kay Garcia, RN, LAc, an acupuncturist at The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. “If two patients come to me complaining of the same symptom, such as fatigue, their treatment might be different due to each one’s constitutional makeup,” she says.

Dietary Supplements
Vitamins, minerals, herbs, and botanicals can be powerful adjuncts to any breast cancer treatment plan, but tell your doctors which ones you are taking. Some oncologists believe, for instance, that antioxidant supplements like turmeric negate chemo’s effectiveness. According to Robert Newman, PhD, professor of experimental therapeutics at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, this may be true in lab studies, but not necessarily in humans. He and his colleague Keith Block, MD, of Block Center for Integrative Treatment in Chicago, analyzed clinical trial studies from 1966 to 2007 and discovered that antioxidants may in fact increase survival rates and tumor response, decrease side effects, and help patients finish treatment in better shape. Some supplements that show promise for breast cancer patients include:

Curcumin
This phytochemical—found in turmeric—has been used for thousands of years to treat inflammation in the body, a known side effect of chemotherapy and radiation. Curcumin has been shown to interfere with growth of breast cancer cells and reduce tumor growth in animal studies.

Vitamin D
Research shows that vitamin D therapy improves breast cancer prognosis because it stimulates apoptosis, the process by which cells die as part of the normal cell cycle. “If cells continue to divide un- controllably, they can become a tumor,” says K. Simon Yeung, PharmD, a research pharmacist and clinical coordinator in the Integrative Medicine Service department at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. Most experts say the recommended 400 IU of vitamin D isn’t enough and suggest 1,000 IU or more, especially in those with vitamin D deficiency. Note: Make sure the supplement you take is vitamin D3, the most bioavailable kind.

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Author: Meghan Rabbitt

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