April 18, 2014

Fasting is emerging as a powerful tool against cancer.  Fasting has been around for millenia and many cultures and traditions revere it for purifying and cleansing the body. Cancer, on the other hand,  is a disease of over-abundance and excess and epidemic in western societies. It makes logical sense that fasting would be useful in cancer fighting and modern science is just starting to catch up with what ancient traditions have known since for eons. 


Cancer is a disease of metabolic derangement, going all the way down to the mitochondrial engines that drive each of our cells growth and function. Studies of populations show that societies that burn fewer calories daily and have periods of fasting have significantly lower rates of cancer. Western societies have such an abundance of food, especially foods that are high in carbohydrate and sugar, we are constantly pouring more fuel into our engine than can be used efficiently. (see corn syrup, GMO wheat, etc.). This leads to chronic inflammation, metabolic malfunctioning and genetic alterations. Cancer arises when this pattern leads to mutation that essentially sticks the gas pedal to the floor and drives cells to constantly divide and grow.


Cancer cells, contrary to normal cells, depend on steady glucose availability in the blood for their energy and growth demands, and are not able to metabolize significant amounts of fatty acids or ketones due to cellular dysfunction.  In other words, cancer cells thrive on sugars and starve on fats and ketones, which are the energy units used when our body enters into a fasting state.


Many specific metabolic pathways have been identified that drive cancer growth. Some critical ones are insulin use and angiogenesis (blood vessel formation), both of which cancer tries to use to fuel its growth. Fasting will direcly impacts and resests the environment cancers tries to create through these mechanism and even triggers signals for cancer cell death.


 “Fasting makes it worse for cancer cells by generating an extreme environment with low glucose and growth factors and high ketone bodies, which weakens cancer cells. Each mutation in cancer cells makes them a little better at growing under standard conditions, but a little worse at surviving under extreme environments such as that caused by fasting”.


-- Valter Longo PhD, Reseracher at USC Norris Cancer Center


Our bodies are genetically programmed to fast (even if it doesn’t feel like it when you begin the process). Before the modern era, fasts were a part of crops failing, game becoming scarce, weather and so fourth which we survived thanks to the body’s ability to enter a fasting state. Fasting hits the reset on a system that is designed for a periodic clean-out. Fasting is safe and healthy, as proven by it's long use in many cultural and religious doctrines across the globe. 


Research being done at Duke and USC, among others, is starting to elucidate and quantify the wisdom behind fasting. Research has shown it can be a powerful tool to slow and reverse cancer cell growth and can even be combined with chemo to make it more effective and less toxic. Hundreds of studies coming out in the past few years are all pointing to these same conclusions. In a recent mouse model study, Dr. Longo at USC, compared a standard chemotherapy regiment given every three weeks with a periodic fast on a similar schedule. He found that the tumor reduction seen was comparable between chemo and fasting, while the mice who fasted had less weight loss and far fewer side effects.


Of course, fasting may not be appropriate for everyone and should be supervised by a qualified physician. Patients with diabetes or metabolic disorders, or those who have lost more than 10% of their weight, should be carefully assessed before deciding if fasting is appropriate. If you are on chemotherapy or radiation, fasting may be an excellent option to reduce side effects and increase efficacy, but needs to be guided by a naturopathic physician or nutritionist. Please consider making an appointment with Sage Cancer Care if fasting is something you'd like implement for your health and fight against cancer.  


May 13, 2013

New research has been published showing fish oils are particularaly helpful for the most deadly form of breast cancer, triple negative breast cancer. This further adds to the argument for use of fish oils in breast cancer treatment. Please see my previous post, Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Breast Cancer, for a an overview. The words below are not my own, but state easily what this new reasearch is expressing. It's important to note that the research is still being done in a lab with cells, not in humans with cancer. It is unlikely that we would see the same 90% redcution they quote in their study.



New data suggests that omega-3 fatty acids and their metabolite products slow or stop the proliferation or growth of cancer cells, but are especially effective at blocking the growth of triple-negative breast cancer cells. Led by Thomas Pogash from Fox Chase Cancer Center, USA, the team found that the omega-3s worked against all types of cancerous cells, but the effect was observed to be stronger in triple-negative cell lines – where it reduced proliferation by as much as 90%.


Pogash said the findings underscores the important role common compounds found in food may play in keeping cancer at bay: "Diet can play a critical role in breast cancer prevention,” he said. "When you compare a western diet to a Mediterranean diet, which has more omega-3s, you see less cancer in the Mediterranean diet. They eat much more fish."


The research findings, presented at the AACR Annual Meeting 2013, assessed omega-3 fatty acids ability to inhibit the growth of the four lines of breast cancer cells that are generally recognized. Two of those, luminal A and luminal B, grow in the luminal cells that line milk ducts in the breast and have receptors for estrogen and progesterone, while a third category includes tumors that test positive for the HER2 receptor.


Tumors in the fourth category, triple-negative, lack receptors for progesterone, estrogen, and a protein called HER2/neu - as a result, this type of disease is insensitive to some cancer treatments like trastuzumab, which disrupts the HER2 receptor, and tamoxifen, which targets the estrogen receptor.


The authors noted that no targeted therapies are currently available for patients diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer: "This type of cancer, which is found more frequently in Latina and African-American women, is highly aggressive and has a low survival rate," said Dr Jose Russo – who also worked on the study. "There is not any specific treatment for it."

Russo, Pogash, and their colleagues tested the effect of large omega-3 parent molecules, as well as their smaller metabolic derivatives, on three luminal cell lines and seven lines that included basal-type triple-negative cells. They found that omega-3 and its metabolites inhibited proliferation in all cell lines, but the effect was dramatically more pronounced in the triple-negative cell lines.


In addition, the metabolites of omega-3 reduced motility by between 20% and 60% in the triple-negative basal cell lines, they said.”


[Volume #101 May 10, 2013 3Care Therapeutics]


April 22, 2013

After being diagnosed with breast cancer, you have all sorts of information flying at you and you are still reeling from shock while trying to make important medical decisions. I equate it to trying to take a sip of water from a fire hose. Getting advice from an objective source that shares your values is a great resource during this intense time. Here is where a caring naturopathic cancer specialist can help you as you embark on your cancer journey.


In today's blog post, we check in with one such expert, Dr. Katherine Neubauer, ND, FABNO from Dr. Neubauer has counseled many breast cancer patients in this exact situation on how to wisely approach the world of medical oncology armed with understanding.  In her blog, she lays out the basics of what you need to understand about the tests and numbers you receive and how to decipher them. Please read her artice, Breast Cancer Overview, to get an initial understanding of what common breast cancer tests and numbers may mean for you.


If you find you still need to know more about your diagnosis before comfortably moving forward, you can consult with Dr. Neubauer from anywhere in N. America through her website. If you would rather stay local in Portland, OR, Dr. Dave Allderdice at Sage Cancer Care can see you in person and given an integrative treatment plan


"We are now at a point in time when the ability to receive, utilize, store, transform and trasmit data -- the lowest cognitive form -- has expanded literally beyond comprehension. Understanding and wisdom are largely forgotten as we struggle under an avalanche of data and information." --Dee Hock


April 29, 2013

Glutamine is a basic building block of cells and tissue. It is an amino acid that is found abundantly in our bodies and supplied, when under normal conditions, adequately by a balanced diet. Glutamine is to cellular health as bricks are to a chimney – critical and fundamental.


So why discuss something so basic?  When the body is under the stress of chemotherapy, radiation or after major surgery, glutamine becomes a “conditionally essential” amino acid. In short, we can’t get enough of this stuff, and the more we get, the better the body can manage the fall-out caused by these major stressors. Glutamine can be taken in high doses in a flavorless powder and many body builders do just that. I’m not here to help build bulging muscles, but I am dedicated to helping cancer patients rebuild while going through chemotherapy.


Some examples of critical times glutamine can help greatly are as follows: To help reduce throat pain and prevent inability to eat while getting radiation for squamous cell cancer of the head and neck or esophageal cancer; to prevent hand and foot syndrome from Xeloda chemotherapy; to prevent diarrhea form 5-FU chemotherapy in colon adenocarcinoma; to prevent neuropathies from Taxol for breast cancer patients; to reduce gastritis, nausea and repair the lining of our GI tract in most cases of chemotherapy; to prevent cancer related weight loss, and the list goes on and on. This is because Glutamine is fundamental to cellular health.


Here is the catch…Cancer cells like to use glutamine also, and can use it to fuel their own growth! Don’t throw out your glutamine powder just yet--there is a very appropriate time to use it. This is during active cancer treatment and it can be a benefit to both your body’s health and fighting cancer.


You must understand that chemotherapy and radiation work on the principle of targeting cells that are dividing. If more of the cancer cells dividing when these therapies are present then, theoretically, glutamine can increase their vulnerability and take out more of them each treatment. Because your healthy cells are less metabolically active, they can use the glutamine for repair rather than new cell growth and the side effects of chemo/radiation are lessened. Multiple human studies have shown just this, while also showing that patients did not have a reduction in the effectiveness of their oncology treatment. This is a key point I look at when integrating the world of natural and traditional cancer treatment.


The wise naturopathic oncologist will tailor a specific schedule of dosing glutamine for their patients that will overlap with active treatment, but should not be something taken while in remission or on a chemo break. There are some even finer points to be added  on how to best dose glutamine depending on the exact schedule of chemo or radiation received. Through a well researched and artfully managed approach, cancer patients can get the full power of prevention and restoration that glutamine offers without compromising their ability to fight caner. This is the power of the sage approach and one of the strongest reasons to have a fully integrative team behind you as you walk the path to successful cancer treatment.


April 17, 2013

Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fatty acids (EFAs) critical to cellular function and human health. Our western diet is notably low in omega-3 fatty acid content and this has been linked to chronic health issues including inflammation, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and brain health. The best source of omega-3 fatty acids are fish oils as well as certain plant oils.  Fish oils are the best place to get the specific EFAs, DHA and EPA which are being studied scientifically for their health benefits. This posting will briefly discuss some of the new research that is emerging about omega-3 fatty acids and breast cancer patients.


The Case for Fish Oils


The benefits from fish oils are numerous and they remain one of the most touted natural health supplements for health and disease prevention. This is because at the most fundamental level, cells made up of more Omega-3 fatty acids are healthier and lead to less overall inflammation being generated in our body on a day in and day out basis. They make cell membranes more fluid, increasing cell to cell signaling and help thin the blood which benefits heart disease, stroke and cancer spread. omega-3 fatty acids help regulate a healthy immune response, promoting a more favorable immune response for tumor detection and destruction. Both reduced inflammation and immune health are critical both for cancer prevention as well as slowing cancer growth.  Cellular and animal studies have built a strong case for the use of fish oils in cancer patients on treatment. A review and summary done of over 80 scientific research articles were able to demonstrate synergy with both radiation and chemotherapy, helping them increase cancer cell death while reducing the toxicity of these therapies in pre-clinical models. (See Article Here)


Metstatic Breast Cancer Research


Two more recent studies coming out of France take this earlier data and apply it to real women battling advanced stage breast cancer. They looked at one specific EFA, DHA is the main component in fish oil. This first article titled, Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) intake during first line chemotherapy improves survival in metastatic breast cancer.”  Demonstrated reduced toxicity and better survival for women with higher levels of DHA in their blood.  Specifically they had less anemia and low platelets. Those patients with high DHA lived 3.5 years after the intervention, vs. those with low DHA lived for 1.5 years. 

            The second study, entitled:" Improving outcome of chemotherapy of metastatic breast cancer by docosahexaenoic acid: a phase II trial,” Confirmed what was seen in the first study and further concluded that “DHA during chemotherapy was devoid of adverse side effects and can improve the outcome of chemotherapy when highly incorporated. DHA has a potential to specifically chemosensitize tumors.”  This means that it was safe, helped patients live longer and can potentially increase the effectivness of chemotherapy treatment.”  These two studies help show that fish oil can truly impact patients’ length and quality of life when added in combination with conventional treatment.


Simple Yet Powerful


There are multiple additionally researched benefits of fish oils for cancer patients including helping stop cancer related weight loss and synergizing with tamoxifen and aromatase inhibitor treatment. The science behind this entire list of benefits will have to wait for future postings.

            Fish oil and omega-3 fatty acids are an example of a simple yet powerful natural intervention. This type of treatment holds great promise for cancer patients and it is one of many in the naturopathic armament.  This combined approach is the power of integrative additions to conventional care.  Whether trying to prevent cancer recurrence, actively fighting cancer or newly diagnosed, naturopathic medicine can greatly impact the course and success in the cancer journey. Science is just now starting to catch up to what natural wisdom has shown for centuries. Supporting the body nutritionally and looking at health holistically makes a profound difference.


April 22, 2013


Sage Cancer Care is proud to introduce the wisdom and practice of one of our most respected colleagues, Dr. Katherine Neubauer, ND, FABNO.   She is a published author, speaker and clinician who works in private practice and does consulting nationwide. Beyond her remarkable brain, Dr. Neubaur also brings great heart and art to her integrative cancer approach. Dr. Neubauer will be sharing her insight into a controversial topic in natural medicine, whether an alkaline diet or alkalinizing supplements are beneficial in a approach to natural cancer fighting or prevention. If you'd like to know more about Dr. Neubauer and her practice, visit her website,



Ask the Doctor:


Can Alkaline Diet or Alkaline Water Help Me?

Originally Posted on Apr 14, 2013 on


Q: I’m reading about the Warburg effect in cancer cells. Can alkaline water or an alkaline diet help me to fight my cancer?


Tumors make acid because they are growing quickly. However, the acid doesn’t make the tumor grow.

An alkaline diet can be beneficial if it’s alkaline because it’s a plant-based diet. Plant foods, exercise, and relaxation all fight cancer on their own. Alkaline diet programs claim that these things are “alkalinizing”, but the anticancer benefits are independent.

An alkaline diet can also protect bone density. Blood pH is tightly controlled. When the blood becomes acidic, the kidneys pull minerals from the bones to alkalinize the blood. So, while you can’t significantly change blood pH through diet or supplements, you can protect the bones. Tumors are more able to metastasize to brittle bones than strong ones, so protecting bones can have anticancer benefit. This is especially true in cancers that tend to spread to the bone, such as breast, prostate, and lung cancers.

On the other hand, alkalinizing supplements can be harmful.

We are designed to have acidic stomachs and basic bodies. Stomach acid digests protein and binds iron and calcium. When you swallow your snot (and we all do!), stomach acid keeps nose bacteria from infecting the lungs and small intestine. Research shows clearly that stomach acid suppressing drugs increase the risk of bone fracture and pneumonia. Alkaline water and alkalinizing supplements neutralize the protective benefits of stomach acid.


So, do eat a rainbow of plants, limit sugar, exercise, relax, and meditate or pray. In fact, slow, deep breathing is the fastest way to alkalinize the blood. And it’s free! However, don’t pursue alkaline water or alkalinizing supplements. They cost a fortune and they may be harmful.