So you’ve recently been diagnosed with breast cancer…
For many, this is a very stressful time and it can be difficult to navigate on your own. It might feel like you’re not quite in control of your body; like you’re simply following the instructions of your medical care team and taking the back seat with your health choices. If you want to feel like you’re doing everything in your power to make this process go smoothly, it’s time to book an appointment with a naturopathic doctor who focuses on integrative cancer care. Integrative cancer care involves adjusting lifestyle, nutrition, and nutraceutical use to accommodate your cancer diagnosis and plans for conventional medical therapies.
Here are five reasons why integrative cancer care is what you need to optimize your health, from cancer diagnosis to remission.
To improve quality of life through cancer diagnosis and treatment.
A cancer diagnosis is one of the most challenging things a person may have to navigate in their lifetime. Not only does a diagnosis significantly impact a person’s physical health, but also their mental and emotional health. This occurs for a multitude of reasons. Stress from the diagnosis, symptoms of the cancer itself, and the change in lifestyle that can happen after you’re diagnosed can all contribute to mental and physical feelings of distress. Studies show that breast cancer survivors who engage in lifestyle medicine have a significantly higher health-related quality of life. Interestingly, these women also had a more favourable prognosis and lower mortality than others who did not engage in lifestyle medicine1. It pays to change your lifestyle!
To reduce side effects of conventional treatment.
One of the biggest reasons a person may choose to reject conventional medicine is because of the fear of unwanted side effects. While it’s true that different therapies like chemotherapy and radiation may lead to adverse effects, they are still proven to be very effective for particular types of cancer and are typically the mainstay of treatment. Several natural health products can help reduce adverse effects associated with chemotherapy, including gastrointestinal symptoms, oral mucositis, peripheral neuropathy, liver and kidney toxicity and more2.
To improve efficacy of cancer therapies and survival.
There is a growing body of evidence to suggest that several different naturopathic therapies (including but not limited to herbal supplements, nutritional strategies, intravenous therapies and injection therapies) can enhance the cytotoxic effects of conventional medical treatments like chemotherapy and radiation therapy on a cellular level, and in animal models3. It’s very important to consult with your naturopathic doctor to determine which modalities are going to be safe and effective in your specific case. There is also significant evidence that suggests that lifestyle changes when used alongside conventional cancer therapies, can improve survival rates compared to conventional therapies alone4.
To reduce risk of recurrence.
With the leaps and bounds that have been made in regards to the etiology of cancer, it’s well-known that genetics play a significant role, but not the only role. Lifestyle habits can put you at risk for developing cancer, and can raise your risk of recurrence of cancer after having been successfully treated5. Several naturopathic therapies, such as altering nutritional habits, managing body weight, and dietary supplementation have been shown to reduce the risk of breast cancer recurrence in those who have already undergone conventional treatment6. Recurrence can happen to any breast cancer survivor, so it’s important to make sure you’re doing what needs to be done to reduce that risk.
To feel supported medically, after conventional medical treatment ends.
When conventional therapy ends, it tends to bring relief but it’s not uncommon to feel anxiety, wondering “what’s next?’. Your naturopathic doctor’s goal is to support your well-being, from prevention to remission and beyond. As your health changes, so do the goals of therapy.
If you’re looking for guidance and support for your health in regards to your cancer diagnosis, and navigating your health afterwards, don’t hesitate to reach out and book a meet and greet to see how integrative cancer care can improve your life.
- Montagnese C, Porciello G, Vitale S, et al. Quality of Life in Women Diagnosed with Breast Cancer after a 12-Month Treatment of Lifestyle Modifications. Nutrients. 2020 Dec 31;13(1):136. doi: 10.3390/nu13010136. PMID: 33396551; PMCID: PMC7824271.
- Zhang, Qing-Yu, et al. “Natural product interventions for chemotherapy and radiotherapy-induced side effects.” Frontiers in pharmacology9 (2018): 1253.
- Guo CH, Hsia S, Chung CH, Lin YC, Shih MY, Chen PC, Peng CL, Henning SM, Hsu GW, Li Z. Nutritional supplements in combination with chemotherapy or targeted therapy reduces tumor progression in mice bearing triple-negative breast cancer. J Nutr Biochem. 2021 Jan;87:108504. doi: 10.1016/j.jnutbio.2020.108504. Epub 2020 Sep 19. PMID: 32956826.
- Block, Keith I., et al. “Survival impact of integrative cancer care in advanced metastatic breast cancer.” The breast journal4 (2009): 357-366.
- Cathcart-Rake EJ, Ruddy KJ, Johnson RH. Modifiable Risk Factors for the Development of Breast Cancer in Young Women. Cancer J. 2018 Nov/Dec;24(6):275-284. doi: 10.1097/PPO.0000000000000340. PMID: 30480572.
- De Cicco P, Catani MV, Gasperi V, Sibilano M, Quaglietta M, Savini I. Nutrition and Breast Cancer: A Literature Review on Prevention, Treatment and Recurrence. Nutrients. 2019 Jul 3;11(7):1514. doi: 10.3390/nu11071514. PMID: 31277273; PMCID: PMC6682953.