Naturopaths can play a significant role in helping cancer patients.
According to Cancer Centers of America, one of the leading oncology institutions in the USA, 80% of adult patients with cancer are malnourished and 63% of cancer patients take nutritional supplements.
What leads to malnourished state of cancer patients?
- Cancer cells need their nourishment too. Thus, they construct new blood vessels during the process of angiogenesis. It requires “building blocks” that can be received from food nutrients. Cancer cells grow in different tissues and can take nutrients from those tissues for its own use (amino acids, glucose, etc)
- Often times cancer can be caused by a nutrient deficiency as 95% of cancers do not have an inherited genetic cause. There have been many research articles that show that inadequate levels of vitamins and minerals can lead to DNA damage. Consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables loads the body with essential vitamins and minerals. Standard American diet uses a number of processed foods which are deprived of minerals and vitamins, phytonutrients, essential amino acids and fatty acids (omega 3s). Thus, a nutrient deficient diet can lead to chronic disease, inflammation and cancer.
- Many medications can cause nutritional deficiencies. A large number of people use synthetic medications for different conditions (hypertension, high cholesterol, etc). These medications can save lives but at the same time they can also “rob” the body of the essential nutrients (minerals, vitamins, precursors to hormones) if used for a long time. For example, statins (Atorvastatin, Simvastatin, Rosuvastatin, etc) can deplete a very important antioxidant in the body – CoQ10. If patients do not get enough CoQ10 from the diet and there is no supplementation of coQ10, eventually those patients may be depleted in this nutrient that takes part in mitochondrial respiration.  This is just one example of nutritional deficiency and each medication has its own nutritional depletion on the body.
- Cancer treatments (chemotherapy, radiation, surgery, etc) can also cause nutritional deficiencies, thus, these deficiencies need to be addressed through whole foods balanced diet with abundance of fresh vegetables and fruits, protein, essential fatty acids, and high quality nutritional supplements.
It is always best to see a qualified practitioner to identify nutritional deficiencies while going through cancer treatments.
Naturopaths study Nutrition, Botanical Medicine, Pharmacology and many other disciplines to be equipped with necessary knowledge to develop a comprehensive plan for patients to replenish depleted nutrients. Naturopathic doctors also have access to high quality supplements through professional companies. N.D.s can check the interactions that can exist between supplements and medications through naturopathic medical resources.
 Deichmann, Lavie, Andrews. Coenzyme Q10 and Statin-Induced Mitochondrial Dysfunction. Ochsner J. 2010 Spring; 10(1): 16–21.
 Dreizen, McCredie, Keating, Andersson. Nutritional deficiencies in patients receiving cancer chemotherapy. Postgrad Med. 1990 Jan;87(1):163-7, 170