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Letters to the Editor Issue 222

by Letters(more info)

listed in letters to the editor, originally published in issue 222 - May 2015

Vitamin Bashing Begins in US Prior to Publication of Meta-Analysis Using Old Studies

Alliance for Natural Health Team

New vitamin bashing headlines this week, once again linking dietary supplements with cancer, seem strangely familiar. It appears that old studies are once again forming the basis of another new meta-analysis (‘study of studies’), with the usual accompanying advice to discard them or at least be very cautious about using them. The ‘new’ research is nothing more than a meta-analysis headed by Dr Tim Byers, a cancer doctor, University of Colorado researcher, and a director of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) that reconsiders 12 cherry-picked studies over the last 20 years, involving around 300,000 people. As yet apparently unpublished, the research was presented at a forum which formed part of the AACR Annual Meeting 2015 in Philadelphia. The AACR meeting is a very large, high tech gathering of presenters, early-career and established researchers, clinicians, advocates and media from all around the world. What better place to launch the latest attack on supplements, accompanied with a call for even more regulation?

Vitamin Bashing Begins in US Prior to Publication of Meta-Analysis Using Old Studies

Until the research is published, we will have to hold off giving detailed comments. But it is immediately obvious that problematic studies with high dose, synthetic and isolated or very limited combinations of beta-carotene, vitamin E, selenium and folic acid form the basis of the meta-analysis. In short, it looks decidedly like the same old stuff has been dressed up and regurgitated - again. 

Byers Uses as yet Unpublished Study to Call for Tighter Regulation

Dr Byers is an associate dean and professor of the University of Colorado School of Public Health. Unfortunately, there was no detail provided in the press release published by the University of Colorado Cancer Center on the 14th April, either. The release stated “a forum at the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Annual Meeting 2015 by University of Colorado Cancer Center investigator Tim Byers, MD, MPH, describes research showing that over-the-counter supplements may actually increase cancer risk if taken in excess of the recommended dietary amount”.

Dr Byers took the opportunity to tell CBS News "There's enough evidence along these lines that we should really consider better regulation of these nutritional supplements…..I think it's time to step back and say there's probably a safety issue."

Synthetic, Pharmaceutical Vitamin Forms - Fodder for Vitamin Bashing

The University of Colorado press release briefly mentioned that one trial explored the effects of “beta carotene supplements” and increased “risk of developing both lung cancer and heart disease”. This indicates that the new research was likely to be referring to part of the mainstay of vitamin bashing fodder, as found in the CARET and ATBC trials of the 1990s. As we have often explained, it is recognized that, taken at high doses, synthetic beta-Carotene may increase the risk of lung cancer among smokers and asbestos workers at high risk of lung cancer.

The press release also mentioned folic acid and an increased number of colonic polyps - the link is well-known amongst nutritional researchers, and ANH-Intl have written in detail about the science and key importance of natural forms of folate, and about the potential risks of food fortification with folic acid - the synthetic form. Interestingly, Dr Byer’s research in 2013 has looked at problems with very high intakes of folic acid, but he does not discuss the fact these issues are completely absent when food forms or polyglutamic forms of folate are consumed. Let’s not also forget the immense benefits.

Also coming out of the AACR annual meeting is reference to the association which emerged last year between vitamin E and prostate cancer, and a link between selenium and skin cancer. No surprises then that getting the public to worry about elevating their selenium status might actually increase their overall risk of cancer given a considerable body of evidence showing selenium’s cancer protective effects.

Nutrition Guidelines in Relation to Cancer

Dr Byers has a particular interest in diet and nutrition in relation to cancer. He has researched the subject for over two decades and has helped develop the AACR guidelines on nutrition and physical activity for cancer prevention. It’s a concern that these include recommendations for the consumption of sugar, grains including wheat, concentrated fruit juice and low fat. Even some of Dr Byers’ own research has indicated a clear link between cancer and carbohydrates.

Dr Byers appears to have seen the option to give supplements a double kicking: once before his meta-analysis has been released, and presumably a second, after it’s published. If his message was intended to be of genuine benefit to the public, we’d applaud him. Using old studies or studies with limited relevance to the average consumer, and attempting to damage the reputation of products that provide a wealth of nutrients that an increasing sector of the population are deficient in, is quite another thing. 

Getting Back on Track

A starting point for health is following our guidelines in our Food4Health plate. Yes, and it recommends regular use of concentrated forms of nutrients, be they fresh herbs and spices or supplements. Forget Dr Byers’ 12 studies - there’s over 80 supporting the Food4Health guidelines!

Further Information

This analysis was originally posted on the ANH website:

www.anh-europe.org/news/vitamin-bashing-begins-in-us-prior-to-publication-of-meta-analysis-using-old-studies?utm_source=The+Alliance+for+Natural+Health&utm_campaign=234dd6d43d-150422_ANH_Intl_eAlert_No_2464_23_2015&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_aea8a87544-234dd6d43d-84938700

 

ANH-Europe Homepage
ANH Food4Health campaign page

 

$3M Research Grant Awarded to Canada-US Researchers Investigating the Impact of Naturopathic Medicine on Late Stage Cancer Survival

This is the largest-ever North American observational study to assess integrative oncology for advanced cancer patients.

$3M Research Grant Awarded to Canada-US Researchers Investigating the Impact of Naturopathic Medicine on Late Stage Cancer Survival

American and Canadian healthcare professionals, including those from Bastyr University, will work together to study the effectiveness of advanced integrative oncology (AIO) treatment for patients with late stage cancer. AIO treatment includes elements of conventional and naturopathic medicine. The funding was jointly announced today by the Bastyr University Research Institute and Ottawa Integrative Cancer Centre (OICC), an arm of the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine (CCNM).

The $3 million grant, provided by a private Canadian foundation that wishes to remain anonymous, will fund the Canadian/US Integrative Oncology Study (CUSIOS). This is the largest-ever North American observational study to assess integrative oncology for people with late stage cancer. The goals of CUSIOS are to observe and measure the overall survival of a cohort of late stage cancer (III and IV) patients who receive AIO treatments and, to describe integrative therapies provided by naturopathic doctors across the cohort. A total of 400 people with advanced breast, colorectal, pancreatic and ovarian cancer will be studied in seven clinics across North America over three years.  Each selected site provides comprehensive whole-person care in naturopathic oncology, applying advanced science-based treatment for people with late stage cancer.

Integrative oncology aims to combine the best of conventional and whole-person naturopathic care seamlessly and safely to:  improve survival, enhance quality of life, reduce side effects from conventional treatment and help prevent recurrence. AIO therapies used by naturopathic doctors for late stage cancer are directed at multiple mechanisms to slow tumour progression, prevent metastatic spread and improve survival. The therapies are variable but may include intravenous vitamin C, intravenous artemisinin intravenous dichloroacetate, mistletoe, hyperthermia, nutritional protocols and the use of immunomodulatory, anti-cancer, and anti-inflammatory natural health products.

“We have chosen to study the outcomes of naturopathic oncology because this area of integrative oncology is currently leading the field in the application of advanced natural medicine therapeutics,” said Leanna Standish ND PhD FABNO, Professor at the Bastyr University Research Institute, and American lead investigator of CUSIOS. “We will collect survival outcomes on late stage cancer patients treated at multiple naturopathic oncology clinics in North America in order to address the fundamentally important question of whether or not AIO has a beneficial impact on survival.” 

“We are thrilled to have this opportunity to assess the effect advanced integrative oncology can have on survival rates in late stage cancer patients,” said Dugald Seely ND MSc FABNO, Executive Director of OICC, Director of Research for CCNM, and Canadian lead investigator for CUSIOS. “The results of this study will provide valuable insight on the role of naturopathic medicine in cancer care and will lead to the conduct of more rigorous randomized controlled trials.”   

“It is an honor to collaborate with the brightest minds in Canada on such an important study,” said Bastyr University President Daniel K Church PhD. “In partnership with our colleagues at CCNM and OICC I hope we will uncover valuable insight into how integrative oncology care may have a positive impact on those with late stage cancer.”

Bob Bernhardt, President and CEO of CCNM added, “It is through exemplary research collaborations such as CUSIOS that we continue to assess the benefits and advance the clinical evidence-base for naturopathic medicine, making it more integral to our healthcare system and accessible to Canadians. CCNM and the OICC conduct world-leading research and we are proud to align with Bastyr University in co-leading this critically important study for late stage cancer patients.”

About Bastyr University

Bastyr University, located near Seattle, Washington, is internationally recognized as a pioneer in natural medicine. As the largest accredited university for natural health arts and sciences in the US, Bastyr offers more than 17 degree and certificate programs in fields such as naturopathic medicine, acupuncture & Oriental medicine, and whole-food nutrition. Founded in 1978, the University now includes a leading-edge research facility (the Bastyr University Research Institute) and outstanding clinical training at Bastyr Center for Natural Health. The University’s second campus, Bastyr University California, opened in San Diego, California, in fall 2012, becoming the state’s first and only accredited school of naturopathic medicine.

About Ottawa Integrative Cancer Centre (OICC)

The OICC, a regional centre of the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine, is the first integrative cancer care and research centre in central and eastern Canada, established to improve quality of life for those touched by cancer. The OICC welcomes patients at any stage of cancer and those wishing to prevent cancer or its recurrence. Naturopathic doctors have specialized training in integrative cancer care; therapies may include naturopathic medicine, clinical nutrition, acupuncture, massage, reflexology, physiotherapy, exercise, yoga, conscious living coaching, occupational therapy and counselling.

Further Information

For further information please contact Dr Standish at Bastyr University via ljs@bastyr.edu

www.bastyr.edu/news/general-news-home-page/2015/03/3m-research-grant-awarded-canada-us-researchers-investigating  Please contact OICC via info@oicc.ca     www.oicc.ca/en

 

Response to the Recommendations of the Report on the Regulation of Herbal Medicines and Herbal Practitioners 27 March 2015

From the Chair European Herbal Practitioners Association (EHTPA)

A report from the Deputy Chief Medical Officer of Health about the future regulation of herbalists has just been published. Here is our response:

  • In 2014 the government convened yet another Working Group to consider the statutory regulation of herbalists (SR);
  • There have already been three previous committees that have recommended SR for herbalists;
  • There have also been two UK wide public consultations about this both of which recorded overwhelming public support for herbal SR;
  • In 2011 the Secretary of State for Health announced that SR for herbalists would go ahead
  • Now the government has done a complete U-turn and despite the promise that the Expert Group convened to discuss next steps would be fully consulted has published a new report on herbal regulation written by the Deputy Chief Medical Officer of Health that has decided that SR will not now go ahead;
  • The majority of the Expert Group has written to the Health Minister to say they do not agree with this U-turn but their views are being ignored. The Expert Group was not shown a draft of the Report before publication;
  • Voluntary regulation is no substitute for SR and cannot assure public choice and public safety;
  • The Report suggests that medicinal herbs can be re-categorized as foods. If this happens many herbal medicines will no longer be legally available;
  • This report fails to recognise robust existing processes and academic standards established by a number of responsible UK herbal voluntary registers.

Read the full text of our response here (pdf)

Significant Evidence Base for Herbal Medicine

Personal Communication from Michael McIntyre

“There are very significant amounts of research on herbal medicines published on Medline - the term ‘herbal’ selects over 48000 citations while the Sloan Kettering Cancer Center’s ‘ Search about herbs’ has detailed evidence-based data on a large number of herbs (constituents, mechanism of action, adverse reactions, herb-drug interactions, herb lab interactions, literature summary and critique, references, etc.) and both the European Medicines Agency. (www.ema.europa.eu/ema/index.jsp?curl=pages/regulation/document_listing/document_listing_000212.jsp&mid=WC0b01ac058003380a) and European Scientific Cooperative on Phytotherapy - ESCOP (http://escop.com) have published detail monographs on herbal medicines with detailed information about each plant’s pharmacology and mode of action. None of this was sought by the Chair of the Committee or mentioned in the Report. It is plain nonsense to say there isn’t enough research to justify herbal practice.”

Government Report Fails Millions of Herbal Medicine Patients and Practitioners

The full Media Release can be downloaded here (pdf).

The European Herbal and Traditional Medicine Practitioners Association (EHTPA) and British Herbal Medicine Association (BHMA) says public safety is at risk following today's recommendation by the government to reject statutory regulation of the UK's 3000 herbal practitioners. Despite previous agreement that statutory regulation could be the only way to safeguard the public from poorly trained and unethical herbal practitioners, the government now favours voluntary accreditation by the Professional Standards Authority (PSA).

The U-turn by the government comes 15 years after statutory regulation of herbal practitioners was first recommended to the Department of Health by the prestigious House of Lords' Science and Technology Select Committee in 2000. The recommendation also reverses an earlier decision by the Secretary of State for Health in 2011 to implement statutory regulation for herbal practitioners and is at odds with calls for statutory regulation made by two previous Department of Health Working Groups, in each case supported by an overwhelming public vote in favour of statutory regulation to ensure safe treatment by trained practitioners.

Chair of the EHTPA and member of the Herbal Practitioner and Medicines Working Group, Michael McIntyre said: "Herbal medicine is internal medicine and like other types of internal medicine practised in the UK, requires statutory regulation for those who practise it.

"The only way that the public can be assured of receiving safe treatment from well trained, ethically practising herbal practitioners is via statutory regulation since voluntary accreditation leaves the public open to poor practice from ill-trained practitioners who have opted out of, or never signed up to the voluntary scheme in the first instance."

Not only will voluntary regulation fail to ensure the public are consulting trained and ethical practitioners, it will also fall short of ensuring herbs supplied by herbalists are sourced from companies with adequate quality assurance systems, leading to cheaper supplies of inferior and suspect quality.

Dr Dick Middleton, Chairman of the BHMA commented: "The proposals will not prevent the continued availability of low quality or adulterated herbal supplies to herbal practitioners for use in their practice. Herbal practitioners will be unable to identify high quality herbal material and this will inevitably lead to a continued and unacceptable risk to patient safety."

Voluntary accreditation under the PSA is no substitute for statutory regulation: Voluntary accreditation of herbal practitioners already exists in the UK via a number of well-run professional associations with decades of experience of delivering training and monitoring fitness to practise of their members.

"The essential weakness of voluntary accreditation is that any practitioner disbarred by one of the voluntary registers can leave the register and legally continue to practise outside its jurisdiction," said McIntyre.

"Furthermore, training institutions that do not wish to submit themselves to independent accreditation can refuse to participate and operate outside the accreditation scheme.

"The PSA suffers exactly the same shortcomings that undermine other existing voluntary accrediting bodies since the PSA has no more ability than existing voluntary accreditors operating in the herbal sector to require herbal practitioners to belong to it or to require that all herbal training institutions adhere to agreed standards of training. More worryingly, accreditation via the PSA offers the public false security as it appears to have all the powers of a statutory regulating council but in reality in its role as a voluntary accreditor it has none."

McIntyre concluded, "A well trained herbalist is a safe herbalist. In the last two decades, practically every herbal misadventure has occurred at the hands of those practising outside the main UK voluntary registers without adequate training or unethically. Statutory regulation is the only way to ensure all practitioners work to the same high standards. With the growing interest in and use of herbal medicine, only statutory regulation can ensure that the sector as a whole works to agreed standards and can integrate herbal medicine into the healthcare systems of the 21st century."

In objection to the government's decision to recommend voluntary accreditation, an open letter to the Department of Health has subsequently been supported and signed by over half of the Herbal Practitioner and Medicines Working Group objecting to the government's ruling and calls on the government to reconsider its decision in the interests of public health.

The 12 signatories of the open letter are:

  • Michael McIntyre, Chair European Herbal Practitioners and Traditional Medicine Practitioners Association, visiting professor Middlesex University;    
  • Kate Hoey, MP;
  • Penny Viner, Chair UK Herbal Forum;
  • Professor Bo-Ying Ma, Chair Federation of Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners (UK);
  • Dr Michael Dixon, visiting professor at University College and Westminster University, Chair College of Medicine, practising GP; 
  • Simon Mills, Secretary of the European Scientific Cooperative on Phytotherapy;
  • Dr Indira Anand, Chair British Association of Accredited Ayurvedic Practitioners;
  • Alison Denham, Member Herbal Medicines Advisory Committee (HMAC);      
  • Huijun Shen, Vice-President Association of Traditional Chinese Medicine;
  • Dr Dick Middleton, Chair British Herbal Medicine Association;
  • Alasdair Mearns, Scottish Representative of Association of Traditional Chinese Medicine;
  • Emma Farrant, President Register of Chinese Herbal Medicine.

 

  • The Herbal Practitioner and Medicines Working Group was convened by the MHRA to work with the government body to determine the need for regulation of UK herbal practitioners. It comprises 23 members excluding the Chair and ViceChair and includes herbal practitioners, pharmacists, doctors and other healthcare professionals that have an interest in public health at large; 
  • Over-the-counter herbal medicines are currently regulated by statute via the Traditional Herbal Medicinal Products Directive that became fully operational in 2011;
  • Regulation and accreditation are not the same. Statutory regulation involves complying with agreed rules that can be legally enforced, while voluntary accreditation is a seal of approval from some accrediting body certifying that an organization or individual has met specific standards. 

Further Information

Please visit http://ehtpa.eu/

 

Teaching Cancer Patients to Treat Themselves at Home

Treating one's cancer at home with supportive natural non-invasive treatments have their own ability to help the body eradicate cancer.

Stop Cancer image

Even the rich should learn how to treat cancer at home for more reasons than one. First reason is that everyone has to treat themselves before the doctors do, during treatment and even after standard medical treatments, if one survives them. Oncologists do not teach their patients how to take care of themselves.

It is naïve to think we just have to open ourselves to dangerous surgeries, toxic chemotherapy and highly dangerous radiation without some kind of buffer to help our body handle and survive the toxic storms and dangerous procedures. Additionally, supportive natural non-invasive treatments have their own ability to help the body eradicate cancer.

My original title to this essay was Get Rich or Learn How to Treat Cancer at Home because one literally has to be rich today to treat their cancer with mainstream oncologists.

Cancer is incredibly costly disease to fight. The time it takes to develop cancer drugs, as well as their specialization toward a specific cancer type - or potentially even a gene or protein related to a targeted cancer - can make these products quite expensive. Based on a March 2014 report issued by the American Society of Clinical Oncology, the cost to treat cancer in the United States is expected to soar 40% between 2010 and 2020 to $175 billion. Keep in mind, these are direct cancer care treatment costs and don't include the indirect economic costs of premature death and lost productivity.

But we'd like to think that all of the money being thrown into cancer research and new medications is serving a purpose by improving cancer patients' quality of life and possibly prolonging their survival. Unfortunately, a fresh cancer care value study out of the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth would appear to indicate that the vast amount of money being thrown at cancer care in the US is only having a marginally positive effect on survival and quality of life.

According to the two researchers, Samir Soneji and JaeWon Yang, who published their findings in Health Affairs, comparing the amount of money spent on cancer care in the US relative to cancer care in Western Europe led the researchers to the observation that the extra spending in the US did not always avert cancer-related death. Additionally, since 1970, researchers note that cancer death rates have only decreased by 12%, compared to heart disease mortality rates, which have declined by 62%.

After studying the 12 most common cancers in the US and Western Europe between 1982 and 2010, researchers concluded that within the US, 67,000 breast cancer deaths, 265,000 colorectal cancer deaths, and 60,000 prostate cancer deaths were averted by increased cancer care spending. However, the incremental cost to quality-adjusted-life-years saved worked out to $402,000 for breast cancer, $110,000 for colorectal cancer, and a whopping $1,979,000 for prostate cancer. In other words, this was extremely expensive advancement.

Cancer is a scary diagnosis in any form. Cancer can be a swift killer (depending on the type), making it a truly terrifying and difficult-to-fight disease. According to the latest statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cancer ranked as the second-leading cause of death in the United States as of 2013, claiming the lives of nearly 585,000 people. That is over half a million people that the field of modern oncology let fall through the cracks. Does that sound like successful treatments?

Put another way, cancer was the primary cause of one in every five deaths in the US in 2013. If the World Health Organization's forecasts are correct, global cancer incidence is set to rise from 14 million annual cases currently to 22 million cases two decades from now. In short, cancer is poised to potentially become the leading killer in the US and possibly around the globe.

If oncologists are expecting better drugs at higher costs why is the lookout so gloomy? There is so much room for improvement that one would think oncologists would be open to suggestions on how treatments could be improved safely without great additional cost.

This is exactly what Natural Allopathic Medicine’s goal is for cancer patients. My approach to cancer treatment is to teach people to set up a field hospital in their own homes so no matter what treatments they decide on they have a better basis to survive their cancer. It is ridiculous to assume that one’s standard cancer treatment is sufficient and that one does not have to bother with anything else that will support a person’s immune system or one’s body’s ability to negotiate the toxic storms from harsh and dangerous treatments like chemo and radiation.

Even all types of surgery are mitigated with magnesium intake before, during and after surgery. I offer a series of books and consultations that teach people how to treat themselves. The fact is that it is simple and relatively inexpensive to do so and can only help and hardly ever hurt because there are no poisons (pharmaceutical drugs) used in the Natural Allopathic protocol.

Further Information

To learn about Dr Sircus’ recommended treatments visit

http://drsircus.com/medicine/treatments-and-products#utm_source=Dr+Sircus+Newsletter&utm_campaign=3185772fb3-Article_277&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_ea98c09673-3185772fb3-9532688&mc_cid=3185772fb3&mc_eid=daf6acb368

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