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Dynamic Chiropractic – August 1, 2013, Vol. 31, Issue 15
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dynamicchiropractic.com >> Nutrition / Detoxification

Cancer Free for 18 Years

By Van Merkle, DC, CCN, DCBCN, DABCI

There are thousands of oncologists, radiologists and cancer specialists in the world, so when a patient comes to a chiropractor and asks for help after a cancer diagnosis, you should feel proud.

It is direct reflection of their trust in your opinion, skills and standing within the community. You can offer your patients a unique perspective by being trained to read and analyze diagnostic tests, and then provide recommendations on essential nutritional care.

However, be aware that your involvement may not sit well with the patient's medical doctors. Those doctors are tied to strict guidelines for standards of care, and many have simply not received adequate training to understand nutrition and supplementation for cancer patients. Most of the time, my patients are told to stop all nutritional treatment at their first oncology appointment.

I don't believe a person is ever completely cured of cancer. Even when deemed in "remission," they must continually work on keeping their body as healthy as possible to keep cancer cells from multiplying. It takes dedication and determination not only to follow a healthy nutritional regimen, but also to stand up to disapproving medical doctors who can't recommend that nutritional care should be part of the recovery. It helps if chiropractors like you are willing to support the patient as they work to achieve their goals.

A Case Study: Breast Cancer

When I first met my patient back in 1995, I knew she had the dedication and determination needed to succeed. Three weeks prior, the 50-year-old had discovered a mass in her left breast. It was the size of a small egg (approximately 5 x 2.5 x 2.5 cm), and appeared to be well-encapsulated and movable. She also had experienced secretions from both breasts off and on for the previous seven months and clear secretions between her cycles for a year. She was overweight at 5'5" and 195 lbs, and suffered from high blood pressure ranging from 140-160/90. She also had an increased heart rate, averaging 84 beats per minute.

After hearing her presenting symptoms, I was very concerned and recommended she see a medical doctor to have the mass completely removed. Unlike biopsies, which can potentially spread cancerous cells, removing the entire mass often allows it to remain encapsulated. Once removed, the mass can then be analyzed to determine if it is in fact cancerous.

However, the patient was adamant that she wanted to try a natural approach before having surgery. What would happen if she said this to an oncologist? I've had many patients be dismissed by medical doctors for refusing the recommended mammogram, biopsy, chemotherapy or radiation. Remember, it is not your job to push patients into doing procedures they are against; you are there to help them get well.

That being said, in cancer situations, time is short. Therefore, it's imperative to use aggressive nutritional therapy to allow the body to become healthier and regain the ability to combat cancerous cells. Here's how I proceeded:

  • Step 1: Run a comprehensive analysis to see what deficiencies and imbalances appear in the bloodwork. This includes a complete metabolic analysis, CBC, thyroid panel, lipid panel, vitamin D 25-hydroxy, sedimentation rate, iron and ferritin, c-reactive protein, creatine kinase, GGT, LDH and hemoglobin A1C. Also utilize tumor markers as needed [see sidebar]. For breast cancer monitoring, the CA15-3 was commonly used until the CA27.29 became approved by the FDA in 1996.
  • Step 2: Analyze the results and create a vitamin regimen based on the findings.
  • Step 3: Put the patient on a low-glycemic diet. Focus on eating lots of organic, low-glycemic vegetables and free-range, hormone-free proteins. Avoid carbohydrates, sugar, fried food, processed foods, soda, candy, etc., and limit to one low-glycemic fruit (rhubarb, watermelon, cantaloupe or strawberries) daily. Drink plenty of filtered water.
  • Step 4: Retest – The only way to know if the patient is improving is to use diagnostic testing like bloodwork. Patients can "feel great," but still have major problems. Retest, adjust the vitamins based on the new results and then repeat.

My patient's initial round of testing revealed a few problems. She had high cholesterol, significantly low thyroid function (T4 Thyroxine, T3 Uptake and Free T7), mild anemia (hemoglobin, hematocrit, MCV, MCHC, iron and ferritin) and a few other minor imbalances like low calcium and magnesium. The low thyroid and anemia will severely inhibit her body's immunity and allow for other problems to emerge like high cholesterol, which can rise as a protective measure for the heart. The good news is most of the blood markers that could indicate cancerous activity by showing inflammatory processes, cell destruction, weakened immunity, etc. (e.g., LDH, creatine kinase, AK phosphatase, ferritin, ESR and uric acid) were optimal.

Vitamin Recommendations (Based on Test Findings)

  • Vitamin E: High platelets indicate an increased coronary risk – vitamin E will help platelets from clumping together and forming blood clots; it will also work as an antioxidant / immunity booster.1
  • Thyroid support – A blend of B vitamins with iodine should help boost thyroid and metabolic function.2
  • Iron and B12 with folic acid: to allow for the creation of new red blood cells and help replenish iron stores to combat the anemia.
  • Calcium and magnesium: Studies show that low serum levels of calcium and calcium dysregulation can contribute to the proliferation of cancerous cells.3 Magnesium is needed to assist the body in properly utilizing the calcium.
  • Vitamin C and zinc: Both of these supplements have strong immunity-boosting properties.4
  • Fish oil: This supplement has been shown to be as effective as some medications at reducing cholesterol levels and is a good protector against heart disease.5 It may also help inhibit the growth of breast cancer cells.
  • Vitamin D: Not only is vitamin D essential for a strong immune system, but it has also been shown to reduce cancer risk.6
  • Maitake mushroom: stimulates the immune system and increases natural killer cells, which are 20-30 times more toxic to cancer cells than normal cells, as they contain high concentrations of vitamin C.7

Retesting to Gauge Improvement

After taking the vitamins and following the recommended diet for a little more than two months, the patient noted improved digestion, more energy, no breast secretions and more regular/less painful periods. Her retesting also showed improvement.

The vitamins and diet were improving the patient's health. Her cholesterol dropped 30 points, overall thyroid function improved and anemia was getting better. I wanted her to continue with the vitamins and diet, and retest again in four months.

At the second recheck in March 1996, I added CA15-3 and CA27.29 onto her blood test. While these tests are not diagnostic for cancer, they can help indicate / monitor the activity and growth of potentially cancerous cells.8-9 At this time, the CA15-3 was 17.3 (healthy range: 0.0-22.0; clinical range: 0.0-31.0) and the CA27.29 (the new FDA-approved breast cancer tumor marker) was 16.7 (healthy range: 0.0-10.0; clinical range: 0.0-38.6). At the time, the patient noted even more energy, still no breast secretions, and felt that the left breast mass had reduced in size.

We rechecked the CA15-3 in September 1996 and the marker had dropped to 14.7. At this time the patient also decided that surgical removal of the tumor was a good option and had surgery about a week later. Doctors wanted her to do a biopsy; however, she was insistent, and they ultimately agreed to remove the entire mass.

Interestingly, around this time the patient was also finally able to relocate her office at work. She had previously worked in a closed room in the building's basement, an area commonly sprayed with pesticides to keep the bugs out. She stated that she "always felt that I needed to get our of the basement air." Since pesticides are known carcinogens, this was a great move.

After analyzing the mass, the lab reported the patient's tumor as cancerous. It was an infiltrating and intraductal, well-differentiated adenocarcinoma of the breast, and measured 4 x 3.5 x 3 cm. Fortunately, it did not involve the surrounding lymph nodes. The intraductal component had foci of comedo-type adenocarcinoma, and the tumor did extend to some of the resection margins.

A tumor marker recheck in October 1996 put the CA15-3 at 17.7 and the CA27.29 was tested in January 1997, resulting in a reduced 12.4. By April 1998, she was looking great and had dropped 25 lbs. Her tumor markers went up and down slightly over the next few years, averaging about 20.1, but by 1999, despite not doing chemo or radiation as recommended by oncologists, the cancer had not returned.

The patient continued taking her vitamins as recommended, and retested her blood and hair every six months to a year to monitor her progress. Her ankles no longer swell, she doesn't crave sweets, is not as stiff and sore in the mornings, and has much more energy. Today, this patient remains in excellent health with no cancer recurrences since starting to follow the vitamins and dietary recommendations 18 years ago.

In the past 30 years, I've been blessed to have many hundreds of patients suffering from various forms of cancer seek my assistance. I've seen astounding results, such as a 70-year-old with uterine and cervical cancer whose tumor disappeared without chemotherapy and has not returned in the past five years; a 46-year-old who came in after a recurrence of lymphoma and has now been medically in remission for nine years; and a woman who was given eight years to live if she did chemo and radiation, but refused both and is now in excellent health six years later.

There are also stories such as a 60-year-old diagnosed with very aggressive small-cell lung carcinoma after a bout with breast cancer. The median survival time for these patients is just 20 months with traditional treatment methods. She refused chemotherapy and radiation, and sought nutritional treatment, maintaining a good quality of life until her death three and a half years later. How would her last few years been spent if she battled not only the cancer, but also the effects of chemo and radiation?

Whether cancerous cells appear in the breast, kidneys, liver, prostate, lymph nodes, etc., the testing procedures remain the same. Unlike oncologists who treat patients until remission, we as chiropractors can offer a unique service by continuing to provide testing and nutritional counseling for these patients long after they are deemed "cured" by the medical community. This will help ensure patients stay healthy enough for their bodies to continue effectively fighting off cancerous cell activity.

Blood Analysis:

Test Name Blood Test Blood Test Healthy Range Clinical Range
Date: 08-02-95 Outcome
Calcium 9.4 Low 9.70 – 10.10 8.50 – 10.80
Magnesium 2.4 Opt 1.90 – 2.51 1.60 – 2.60
T4 Thyroxine 5.5 Low 7.10 – 9.00 4.50 – 12.00
T3 Uptake 28.4 Low 29.00 – 35.00 24.00 – 39.00
Free T7 1.6 Low 2.61 – 3.60 1.20 – 4.90
Serum Iron 52 Low 85.00 – 120.00 40.00 – 155.00
Ferritin 9 C. Low 30.00 – 115.00 13.0 – 150.00
Total Cholesterol 204 C. Hi 140.00 – 170.00 100.00 – 199.00
Triglyceride 83 Opt 80.00 – 115.00 10.00 – 149.00
HDL Cholesterol 44 Low 50.00 – 55.00 40.00 – 59.00
VLDL Cholesterol 17 Opt 5.00 – 20.00 4.00 – 40.00
LDL Cholesterol 143 C. Hi 50.00 – 75.00 6.00 – 99.00
Total Cholesterol/HDL 4.63 Hi 0.00 – 4.00 0.00 – 5.00
WBC 5.2 Opt 5.00 – 8.00 4.00 – 11.40
RBC 5.33 C. Hi 4.27 – 4.78 3.77 – 5.28
Hemoglobin 12.4 Low 12.5 – 14.20 11.10 – 15.90
Hematocrit 38.4 Opt 38.00 – 42.00 34.00 – 46.00
MCV 72.0 C. Low 84.00 – 92.00 79.00 – 97.00
MCHC 32.2 Low 33.20 – 34.50 31.50 – 35.70
Platelets 324 Hi 175.00 – 250.00 145.00 – 435.00
Monocytes 7.3 Hi 5.00 – 7.00 4.00 – 13.00
Lymphocytes 21.8 Low 25.00 – 40.00 14.00 – 46.00
LDH 137 Opt 120.00 – 160.00 100.00 – 250.00
Creatine Kinase 84 Opt 60.00 – 140.00 24.00 – 173.00
AK Phosphatase 64 Opt 40.00 – 120.00 25.00 – 150.00
Uric Acid 3.9 Opt 3.50 – 6.60 2.50 – 7.10
ESR – Erythrocyte Sed Rate 8 Hi 0.00 – 6.00 0.00 – 20.00
Opt – Current result is optimal.
Hi/Low– Current result is higher/lower than the healthy range, but still within clinical ranges.
C. Hi/C. Low– Clinically high/low.

Second Blood Analysis:

Test Name Second Blood Test Test Initial  Blood Test   Healthy Range Clinical Range
Date: 11-02-95 Outcome 08-02-95  
Calcium 8.70 Lo 9.4
sad face - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark
9.70 – 10.10 8.50 – 10.80
Magnesium 1.80 Lo 2.4
sad face - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark
1.90 – 2.51 1.60 – 2.60
T4 Thyroxine 5.30 Lo 5.5
sad face - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark
7.10 – 9.00 4.50 – 12.00
T3 Uptake 34.90 Opt 28.4
happy face - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark
29.00 – 35.00 24.00 – 39.00
Free T7 1.85 Lo 1.6
happy face - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark
2.61 – 3.60 1.20 – 4.90
Serum Iron 174 C. Hi 52
happy face - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark
85.00 – 120.00 40.00 – 155.00
Ferritin 15 Lo 9
happy face - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark
30.00 – 115.00 13.0 – 150.00
Total Cholesterol 174 Hi 204
happy face - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark
140.00 – 170.00 100.00 – 199.00
Triglyceride 122 Hi 83
sad face - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark
80.00 – 115.00 10.00 – 149.00
HDL Cholesterol 44 Lo 44   50.00 – 55.00 40.00 – 59.00
VLDL Cholesterol 24 Hi 17
sad face - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark
5.00 – 20.00 4.00 – 40.00
LDL Cholesterol 106 C. Hi 143
happy face - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark
50.00 – 75.00 6.00 – 99.00
Total Cholesterol/HDL 3.95 Opt 4.63
happy face - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark
0.00 – 4.00 0.00 – 5.00
WBC 6.7 Opt 5.2   5.00 – 8.00 4.00 – 11.40
RBC 5.33 C. Hi 5.33   4.27 – 4.78 3.77 – 5.28
Hemoglobin 15.0 Hi 12.4
sad face - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark
12.5 – 14.20 11.10 – 15.90
Hematocrit 45.1 Hi 38.4
sad face - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark
38.00 – 42.00 34.00 – 46.00
MCV 84.6 Opt 72.0
happy face - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark
84.00 – 92.00 79.00 – 97.00
MCHC 33.1 Lo 32.2
happy face - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark
33.20 – 34.50 31.50 – 35.70
Platelets 271 Hi 324
happy face - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark
175.00 – 250.00 145.00 – 435.00
Monocytes 7.0 Opt 7.3
happy face - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark
5.00 – 7.00 4.00 – 13.00
Lymphocytes 19.8 Lo 21.8
sad face - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark
25.00 – 40.00 14.00 – 46.00
LDH 149 Opt 137   120.00 – 160.00 100.00 – 250.00
Creatine Kinase 62 Opt 84   60.00 – 140.00 24.00 – 173.00
AK Phosphatase 83 Opt 64   40.00 – 120.00 25.00 – 150.00
Uric Acid 5 Opt 3.9   3.50 – 6.60 2.50 – 7.10
ESR – Erythrocyte Sed Rate 6 Opt 8
happy face - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark
0.00 – 6.00 0.00 – 20.00
Opt – Current result is optimal.
Hi/Low– Current result is higher/lower than the healthy range, but still within clinical ranges.
C. Hi/C. Low– Clinically high/low.

Tumor Marker Sidebar:

Site of Disease Type Potentially Useful
Tumor Markers
Site of Disease Type Potentially Useful
Tumor Markers
Colorectal Carcinoma
Carcinoid
CA 19-9, CEA, PHI
Ectopic ACTH
Breast Carcinoma
Advanced Cancer
CA 27-29, CEA, PHI
Ectopic Calcitonin
Gastric Carcinoma CEA Liver Hepatocellular Carcinoma AFP, CA-125
Pancreas Carcinoma
Non-beta cell tumor
D-cell tumor
Beta-cell tumor
CEA, CA 19-9, CA-125
Ectopic ACTH
Gastrin, B-HCG, Calcitonin
Insulin C-peptide
Lung Oat-cell carcinoma
Carcinoid
Certain advanced cancers
Squamous cell carcinoma
All Types
Ectopic ACTH
Ectopic ACTH
Ectopic Calcitonin
SCCA (TA-4)
CEA
Ovary Epithelial Carcinoma
Endometrial Carcinoma
Germ Cell Tumor
CA-125
CA-125
AFP, B-HCG
Cervix Adenocarcinoma
Squamous cell carcinoma
CA-125
*SCCA (TA-4) – Squamous Cell CA Antigen
Fallopian Carcinoma CA-125 Prostate Carcinoma PSA, PAP, PHI
Testis Non-squamous germ cell tumor AFP, B-HCG Pituitary Depend on Secretory Cells Affected Prolactic, ACTH, HGH, B-HCG
Thyroid Medullary Carcinoma Calcitonin Parathyroid Adenoma PTH

References

  1. Steiner M. Vitamin E, a modifier of platelet function: rationale and use in cardiovascular and cerebrovascular disease. Nutr Rev, 1999 Oct;57(10):306-9.
  2. Micronutrient Information Center - Iodine. Oregon State University, Linus Pauling Institute.
  3. Chunfa H, Miller RT. Calcium, Ca2+-Sensing Receptor and Breast Cancer. In: Breast Cancer: Carcinogenesis, Cell Growth and Signalling Pathways, Prof. Mehmet Gunduz (Ed.). Intech (open access), published online Nov. 30, 2011.
  4. Wintergerst ES, Maggini S, Hornig DH. Immune-enhancing role of vitamin C and zinc and effect on clinical conditions. Ann Nutr Metab, 2006;50(2):85-94.
  5. Doheny K. "Fish Oil, Red Yeast Rice Cut Cholesterol." WebMD, 2008 Jul 23.
  6. Lappe J,, Travers-Gustafson D, Davies K ,Recker R, Heaney R. Vitamin D and calcium supplementation reduces cancer risk: results of a randomized trial. Am J Clin Nutr, 2007;85:1586-91.
  7. Klein MA. "A Major Symposium on Vitamin C Sponsored by the National Cancer Institute." Linus Pauling Institute of Science and Medicine, 1990.
  8. Safi F, Kohler I, Röttinger E, Beger H. The value of the tumor marker CA 15-3 in diagnosing and monitoring breast cancer. A comparative study with carcinoembryonic antigen. Cancer, 1991 Aug 1;68(3):574-82.
  9. Gion M, Mione R, Leon AE, Lüftner D, Molina R, Possinger K, Robertson JF. CA27.29: a valuable marker for breast cancer management. A confirmatory multicentric study on 603 cases. Eur J Cancer, 2001 Feb;37(3):355-63.

Dr. Van D. Merkle, president of Science Based Nutrition, is a diplomate of the American Clinical Board of Nutrition and the American Board of Chiropractic Internists. He is also a diplomate of the recently formed Chiropractic Board of Clinical Nutrition and currently serves as vice president. Dr. Merkle has practiced in the Dayton, Ohio area for more than 25 years, and hosted the call-in radio talk show "Back To Health, Your Guide to Better Living" since 1995.

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