NATURALLY HEALTHY: Preventing the most common cancers

Part Two:

Last month I wrote about colon cancer, the number two cancer killer in Canada.

The number one killer is lung cancer, making up 27 per cent of all deaths due to cancer: breast and prostate cancer are number three and number four.

If I were to ask the average person what they are doing to prevent cancer, ie. lung, breast or prostate cancer the standard answer would  include eating a healthy diet, exercising and avoiding lifestyles that include smoking and drinking too much alcohol. Yet we know that these lifestyle habits are not enough to prevent many cancers because our food is not pure and is often deficient in many nutrients and because our bodies are bombarded with environmental toxins that stress the detoxification pathways. By knowing what pathways in the body you are trying to support you can be proactive in preventing cancer no matter what type. Here is how!

The following five mechanisms are the targets for naturopathic medicine in prevention and treatment of cancers in general.

  • Restoring the off-switch “apoptosis program.” This process is powered by the mitochondria or the energy producer of the cancer cells and can throw on the “apoptosis program switch”.  Vitamin D, Vitamin A, EPA, DHA, curcumin, garlic, quercitin, green tea, I3C, Vitamin E, selenium and glutathione to name a few are required for this pathway.
  • Interfering with angiogensis or the blood supply to cancer cells. The primary compound is vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF): Nutrients that decrease VEGF include: Vitamin D, Vitamin A, green tea, EPA and DHA.
  • Control invasion: MMP’s are enzymes which digest connective tissue and allow invasion of the cancer cell. Agents that inhibits MMP’s include: curcumin, green tea, quercitin, EPA essential fats, Vitamin A and Vitamin C to name a few.
  • Preventing metasis of cancer cells: Vitamin D, Vitamin A, bromelain, EPA, DHA, modified citrus pectin
  • Controlling inflammation CRP and IGF1 : vitamin D, Vitamin A, EPA, DHA,  Other agents  include boswellia, quercitin, curcumin, EPA, DHA, green tea, proanthocyanadins and garlic.

Vitamin D helps with all five of the mechanisms that lead to cancer formation. This is why I think every Canadian should know their 25(OH) vitamin D level.

It is not enough to just take vitamin D because many supplements don’t provide the dosage that is on the label and some forms are better absorbed than others. It is a fat soluble vitamin so if there are digestive weaknesses then this vitamin may not be properly absorbed. According to Stats Canada March 24, 2010, one third of all Canadians have vitamin D levels below 50nmol/l which is considered deficient. Levels of 75nmol/l are adequate and levels at 150nmol/L are preventive for cancer and chronic diseases including Alzheimer’s disease.

Essential fatty acids EPA and DHA also prevent all five of the above mechanisms. The question is always about what is the source, is it purified of dioxins, PCB’s, and mercury and what is the dosing of the EPA and DHA. I recommend 3,000 mg total per day and this is found in one tablespoon of Carlson’s fish oil or one tsp per day of our Cytomatrix fish oil.  Both are very pleasant to take.

Probiotics will enhance the immune system in the gut and also reduce the growth of H. pylori. H. pylori induces angiogenesis via several pathways. This is why taking probiotics reduces cancer risk in general and intestinal cancers specifically.

B complex is important as they support many different enzyme functions in the body including detoxification pathways. Helping the body rid itself of numerous toxins will lower the cancer risk in general.

Food sources are generally lacking in B vitamins. Knowing that most humans have at least six carcinogenic toxins in their body no matter what the age makes cleansing programs highly recommended for adults on a regular basis.

Mitochondrial support: Mitochondria are the energy power houses of each cell in our body with about 1,000 per cell. They are a key player in the apoptosis process: the off switch for bad cells. Nutrients that support the mitochrondria include antioxidants such as CoQ10, quercitin, L-carnitine, B complex and Vitamin E.

In the April 1, 2013  Time magazine there was a great article “The Conspiracy to End Cancer.”

It talked about epigenetics and controlling the environment of the genes to prevent their expression. This is going to be the future of preventing and treating cancers. There are many nutritional remedies that have been researched to do this also.


Dr. Ingrid Pincott, naturopathic physician, has been practicing since 1985, and can be reached at 250-286-3655 or

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