Functional Medicine Approach To Cancer

The major factors contributing the developing of cancer are :

  1. Weakened immune system.
  2. Hormonal imbalance
  3. Toxin overload in the body
  4. Pathogen overload from the gut or other origin.
  5. Genetic predisposition (breast, colon etc).
  6. Dietary factors
  7. Weakened immune system.
  8. Glandular weakness (thymus, pancreatic, thyroid).
  9. Weakened immune system.
  10. Psychological – stress overload.

A combination of these factors is commonly found in cancer patients. Addressing each of these factors in turn to ensure optimal levels are achieved will help to reduce risk.

Weakened Immune System

The number 1 cause of a weakened immune system is a nutritional deficiency of some kind. A single nutritional deficiency can impair the immune system profoundly. The nutrients which affect immunity are:

  • Vitamins A,B6, B12, C, D3, E.
  • Zinc, iron, selenium.
  • Amino Acids: Threonine, Lysine, Methionine.
  • Botanicals : mushroom extract, astragalus.
  • Imbalanced gut microbiome: certain bacteria activate the immune system.

Hormonal Imbalance

Various hormones have been directly / indirectly linked to a greater predisposition to cancer development.

  • Insulin: The regulation of blood sugar is directly influencing inflammation, oxidation and the development of cancer cells. The biggest influence on cancer development.
  • Thyroid: An underactive thyroid directly influences energy levels, oxygen uptake into cells, and therefore respiratory output of the body. The lower the respiratory output the greater the risk of cancer.
  • Estrogen/ Progesterone – Estrogen is a sex hormone which can become imbalanced to progesterone between 30-50 and can increase risk of estrogen dependent cancers: breast, uterine, ovarian, prostate.
  • DHEA – the anti-aging hormone, is typically depressed in cancer patients. Its important to support DHEA with lifestyle interventions, exercise, sleep and good diet.

Toxin Overload

Heavy metals and pollutants are very much prevalent in our society especially here in Asia. Over 600 scientific papers linking mercury toxicity and cancer development. Mercury lead and arsenic are the worse heavy metal contaminants in Hong Kong and Asia. Organic Pollutants from vehicle emissions are also linked to cancer development. The body cannot deal with these toxins in large amounts and they therefore weaken the body’s immune system.

Pathogen Overload

Various viral, bacterial and fungal infections have been linked to cancer development. Understanding your pathogen load via various blood urine and stool tests can help to determine your risk to developing specific types of cancer. Eg. HPV – cervical cancer; Hepatitis B, C, Liver cancer.

Genetic Factors

Various genetic factors pre-dispose someone to greater cancer risk, eg. BRAC1 BRAC2 for breast cancer. Identifying your genetic predisposition early can lessen your risk for you undertake preventative measures to limit the development of cancer starting.

Dietary Factors

Many dietary influences increase the risk of cancer, they include eating high carbohydrate and processed foods, (increase insulin) high amount of deep fried / oily foods (highly rancid oxidative fats), processed meats (beefburgers, sausages, hot dogs). Regular consumption of specific foods increases the risk of breast, colon, liver, stomach, pancreatic cancers.

Glandular Weakness

Many glands have very important roles on the body in terms or protection against cancer.

  • Thymus Gland – part of the immune system the thymus produces white blood cells which are a key part of the immune response. As we get older the thymus gland shrinks, but we can maintain by taking various nutrients.
  • Thyroid gland – An underactive thyroid lessens the respiratory output of the cells = lowered energy output, this can create an anaerobic environment which supports cancer development.
  • Pancreas gland – the pancreas produces both enzymes and insulin both of which are critical in minimizing the risk of cancer development. Insulin regulates your blood sugar which needs to be kept within a tight range. Pancreatic enzymes help break down food and also help to ensure a healthy immune response in the gut.
  • Adrenal Gland – the adrenal gland produces key stress hormones which are critical to managing daily life’s stresses. However things go awry when stress is too much and an overproduction of stress hormones occurs, which shuts down the immune system, and increases the inflammatory response which encourages cancer development. Managing daily stress and reducing it will help to reduce the stress hormones like cortisol.

Cellular changes are happening on a daily basis and we can pick up and understand those changes to assess overall risk of developing cancer. Following a functional medicine approach we can help you minimise the risk of developing the disease in the first place.

Functional Medicine Testing

  • Thyroid panel : TSH, T4, T3, TPO, ATA. Blood
  • Amino acids panel: 20 amino acids serum/ bloodspot
  • Nutrients panel: vitamins and minerals 30 biomarkers blood
  • Heavy metal chelation challenge test: Urine
  • Environmental pollutants test: urine
  • Comprehensive Digestive Stool Analysis (CDSA): stool
  • Sex and Stress hormone profile: Urine
  • CBC, Liver and kidney function blood
  • Insulin and glucose fasting test blood
  • Genetic biomarkers saliva or blood.
  • Pathogens: EBV, HPV, Hepatitis, immunology screens. Blood.

Which tests are determine by following up with a functional medicine practitioner/ doctor who can assess your overall risk and suggest appropriate testing protocols.