Integrated and Alternative Cancer Therapy

Dr. Hennie Palm

“Cancer is the interaction between abnormal cells and its natural environment that results in uncontrolled cellular growth. It is the cancer environment that governs the actions of abnormal cells”


Basic Components of the “Natural Environment”

$11.       The Innate Immune System:

$1·       Neutrophils and monocytes that become macrophages

$1·       The antigen presenting dendritic cells

$1·       Natural Killer Cells

These cells recognize foreign cells and destroy them. In the case of cancer these cells are tricked into not recognizing the cancer cells, especially the cancer stem cells that regulate the growth of cancer cells are difficult or impossible to be detected by our immune system.

        2.   Endothelial Progenitor Cells:

Cancer cells are able to recruit these cells into circulation to create blood vessels that will allow glucose (the primary fuel of cancer cells) to reach the cancer cells to feed them.

       3.    Extra Cellular Environment (The environment outside and surrounding cells):

Cancer cells excrete acid through a number of mechanisms and thereby creating an acidic extra cellular environment that breaks down healthy tissue for its expansion and promotes the formation of blood vessels that carry glucose to the tumor cells.

      4.     Energy Supply:

Cancer cells rely on anaerobic (without oxygen) glucose metabolism for energy. While there might be cells in a tumor that still utilize oxygen and glucose to create energy the cancer stem cells that generate new cancer cells rely almost exclusively on glucose as a fuel and do not need oxygen at all. Studies have shown that the more hypoxic (oxygen starved) a tumor is the more aggressive it tends to be.



The fundamental principle of chemotherapy is to use drugs that are more toxic to tumor cells than to normal cells. Conventional chemotherapy is largely ineffective for solid tumors and there are a variety of reasons for this that is well understood. The cancers for which chemotherapy has proved relatively effective are

$1o   Testicular

$1o   Hodgkin’s and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma

$1o   Ovarian

$1o   Corneal carcinoma

$1o   Leukemia

Understanding How Cancers Grow

1.0         The Role of Hormones

1.1               Estrogen

1.1.1              It is well documented that estrogen can promote the growth of tumors. Estrogen is metabolized from Testosterone via the process of aromatization.       

  1.                       Research indicates that between 86% and 88% of cancers produce aromatase and thereby increase the level of estrogen that in turn stimulates the growth of the cancer cells.
  2.                       In integrated cancer therapy aromatase inhibitors such as Chrysin X and Arimidex are regularly utilized especially in breast, non-small cell lung, and colorectal cancer.

1.2                 Testosterone

1.2.1              Testosterone replacement does not lead to prostate cancer, but if a man already has prostate cancer then testosterone replacement will initially promote its growth. In this early stage the reduction of testosterone will result in prostate cancer regression. As the cancer progresses and mutates it becomes “testosterone independent” and the cancer continues to proliferate independent of testosterone levels.

1.3                 Human Growth Hormone

1.3.1              HGH stimulates the release of IGF-1 (Insulin-Like Growth Factor). Several studies suggest that that high levels of IGF-1 in combination with low levels of Insulin Growth Factor Binding Globulin (IGFBP3) that limits the impact of IGF-1, predisposes a patient towards colorectal, prostate and breast cancer. Those patients with an IGF-1 score of less than 183.9 were at the lowest risk for developing cancer.

  1.                       In practical terms the implication is not to supplement with HGH when there is a cancer risk. Where high levels of IGF-1 are detected its production can be inhibited by supplementing with somatostatin.

1.4                Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone (GnRH)

1.4.1              Many cancers have gonadotropin-releasing hormone receptors. By stimulating these receptors through supplementation of GnRH the progression can be decreased. It is however a risky form of treatment since it can disrupt the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis.

2.0                Inflammation

2.1                 One inflammation marker Interleukin 1 (IL-1) has been associated with promoting angiogenesis (the formation of new blood vessels), tumor growth and metastasis (the break-up and spread of a tumor). Increased levels of IL-1 have been observed in the following cancer types: breast, colon, lung, neck and melanomas. Patients with IL-6 producing tumors have generally poorer prognosis. The practical implications for treatment is to find ways of reducing IL-6 by increasing intake of Omega-3 fatty acids and dramatically reducing all pro-inflammatory foods such as processed and fried foods and refined carbohydrates.

3.0                Acidity (Low pH)

3.1                 As stated earlier, cancer thrives by creating an acidic extracellular environment and by continuously pumping out all intracellular lactic acid. If the cancer cell cannot pump out the hydrogen ions to form the acid it will die.

4.0                The Role of Telomeres in Cancer

  1.                       Telomeres are the terminal sections (“end caps”) of a chromosome which has a specialized structure and is involved in chromosomal replication and stability. In 1961, Leonard Hayflick discovered that normal cultured human cells have a limited capacity to divide and replicate, after which they stop growing, become enlarged and enter a new pathway called cellular replication senescence. The ending of cell division is triggered by the shortening of the telomeres.
  2.                       Human cells can remain in quiescent or senescent state for years and this can be seen as a potent anticancer protection mechanism for long-lived species like humans. Human tumor cells derived from carcinomas almost universally bypass cellular senescence and DNA damage signaling pathways by producing an enzyme called telomerase that maintains or lengthens telomeres thus permitting cells to proliferate. Cancer cells maintain stable telomere length, whereas normal tissue cells shorten with division and aging.
  3.                       Men have shorter telomeres than women and significant shortening of telomeres occur with age. Shortening is also observed in diabetes, Vitamin D deficiency, presence of chronic infection, when the inflammatory marker interleukin-6 is observed as well as when the other very sensitive inflammatory marker C-reactive protein is elevated. Tumors with longer telomeres have a better prognosis than those with short telomeres.
  4.                       Short telomere length increases the risk of heart attack by 50% and the risk of early death by 25% and increases the risk for contracting age-related diabetes.
  5.                       One of the ways in which stress, psychological distress and anxiety impacts health is through the accelerated aging as indexed by the shortening of telomeres.
  6.                       Telomerase promotes cell growth through pathways unrelated to telomere maintenance, and some tumors lengthen telomeres through telomerase independent pathways.

Integrated Cancer Treatment

Every cancer is unique and has different genetics. It is critical to obtain to obtain the genetic profile of the cancer prior to attempting to treat it. There is a laboratory in Germany that is able to analyze a blood sample and to isolate the circulating cancer cells and determine what is upregulated in the cancer cell. This provides the physician with an idea of what therapy would be more effective.

         1.0               Dichloroacetate (DCA)

DCA is a trace product of chlorination of tap water. It inhibits the tumor cell’s ability to utilize glucose and it stimulates the cell to utilize oxygen. DCA is deficient in cancer. It stimulates the activity of the mitochondria and is successful in killing cancer cells and reducing its ability to utilize glucose as a fuel.

Supplementation with DCA does have side effects such as pain, numbness and gait disturbance. Peripheral neuropathy (inflammation of the nerves in the extremities such as the feet) is commonly seen and can be controlled by giving 1,000mg of thiamine or benfotiamine. In high doses DCA can lead to liver toxicity. Patients are able to get away with smaller doses by combining DCA with caffeine. DCA is a non-patentable compound and patients across the world have access to it.

         2.0               Ketogenic Diet

Cancer needs glucose and glycolysis and cannot adapt to using fats or ketones. Hence a way of starving cancer cells is to eat a high fat, adequate-protein, low carbohydrate diet that forces the body to burn fats rather than carbohydrates. Typically such a diet allows for no more than 19% carbohydrates, 70% fat and the remainder of 10% as protein.

Cancer cells are more vulnerable to energy stress than normal cells.

        3.0                pH Manipulation Therapy

Eight mechanisms have been identified by which cancer cells pump lactic acid out. The pH surrounding cancer cells is in the range 6.5 to 6.9, whereas the pH of the extracellular space of normal cells are more alkaline, 7.2 to 7.5 (The lower the pH value the more acidic; battery acid’s pH is 0). As mentioned before the acidic environment surrounding cancer cells promotes vascularization, stimulates growth, destroys normal tissue to allow for the growth of cancer cells and promotes metastases.

      3.1                  Sodium Bicarbonate

Efforts are therefore made in integrated cancer therapy to increase the body’s alkalinity or alternatively to decrease the acidity. Oral sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO3) has been used effectively in mice studies to suppress tumor growth. Extrapolating from the mice studies it is assumed that 5 grams of sodium bicarbonate taken orally three times per day will reduce the extracellular acidity, making it more alkaline and reducing metastases. Oral sodium bicarbonate is however not a practical solution for humans because it leads to bloating and abdominal discomfort. There is one exception and that is in colorectal cancer where the solution can be used as an enema.

      3.2                  Suppression of the Acid Pump Action

      3.2.1               Carbonic Anhydrase Suppression

An alternative therapy is by suppressing one of the “pumping actions” of cancer cells, namely through suppression of the carbonic anhydrase through which acid is pumped out of the cell. By inhibiting this pumping action the cell’s internal environment becomes acidic; something the cancer cell cannot tolerate. There are currently a number of carbonic anhydrase inhibitors available that need to be applied with caution due to possible toxic side effects. Acetazolamide is one such product that is prescribed as a diuretic. Typical dose is two 250mg tablets twice a day, with the last tablet being taken early afternoon to prevent sleep interruption due to increased urinary frequency.

       3.2.2              Proton Pump Inhibitors

Another “pumping mechanism” is via the so-called proton pump. There are proteins that shuttle ions across cell membranes and are utilized by cancer cells to keep the intracellular space relatively alkaline and the surrounding cellular space acidic. The action of this mechanism can besuppressed by Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPI’s) such as omeprazole (360mg/day) and esomeprazole (240mg/day); the latter being more bioavailable. Esomeprazole has been used effectively against melanomas through additional actions other than just those associated with the pumping action.

PPI’s reverse Multi Drug Resistance in human melanoma cells and increases these cells’ sensitivity to cytotoxic drugs used in chemotherapy. More of the chemotherapy drugs are retained inside tumor cells when the relative internal and external pH of the cell environment is “normalized”.

      4.0                  Low-Dose Metronomic Chemotherapy (LDM)

Chemotherapy has traditionally been given at Maximum Tolerated Dose (MTD). Since 2000 the term LDM was coined when a new modality of drug administration was started. This consisted of chronic equally spaced, and low doses of various chemotherapeutic drugs being administered without extended rest periods.

It was observed that: “Continuous low-dose therapy with vinblastine and VEGF receptor-2 antibody induces sustained tumor regression without overt toxicity.” Numerous studies have confirmed the efficacy of LDM as an effective treatment for a variety of cancers. These studies highlight the fact that LDM confers lower toxicity while inhibiting vascular growth that supplies the tumor with micronutrients.

      5.0                  Integrated Therapies that Impact upon Telomere Length and Cancer

      5.1                  Physical Activity 

Vigorous physical activity appears to protect those experiencing high stress by buffering the effect of stress on the shortening of telomeres.

      5.2                 Magnesium

Magnesium is essential for life and plays a major role in the metabolism of glucose, production of cellular energy and to create protein. It is vital for the nervous system, muscle contraction, and the formation of healthy bones and teeth. It stabilizes DNA and promotes RNA replication and transcription, whereas low magnesium might accelerate cellular senescence by reducing DNA stability, protein synthesis and the function of the mitochondria.

      5.3                  B Vitamins

Higher levels of vitamin B2 and B6 are associated with lower incidence of colorectal cancer and the implications of this is that supplementation of these vitamins is an integral part of cancer treatment.

      5.4                  Folate

Folate is involved with methylation, a process critical for maintaining DNA integrity, folate appears to protect against certain cancers, especially colorectal cancers.

      5.5                  Vitamin B-12

The reduced oxidative stress and inflammation due to the high dose of vitamin B12 may explain the longer telomere length in individuals who use vitamin B12 supplements.

      5.6                 Vitamin D3

Emerging evidence suggests that a plentiful supply of Vitamin D3 may reduce the risk of many cancers and reverse certain types. Vitamin D inhibits the body’s inflammatory response and thus reduces the turnover of leukocytes (specialized white blood cells). While it is standard practice to perform a laboratory test to determine Vit D3 levels before supplementation it is also true that toxicity has only been observed in extremely high doses exceeding 25,000 IU per day. An initial dose of 12,000 IU per day is recommended and this can then be tapered down to 4,000 IU per day.

      5.7                  Essential Fatty Acids

Supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids such as fish oil (in the ratio 7:1 for EPA:DHA) leads to lengthening of telomeres in white blood cells (leukocytes) and reduces oxidative stress by 15%. In addition omega-3 is an anti-inflammatory. Suggested dose is 2 to 4 grams per day.

     5.8                   Coenzyme Q10 (COQ10)

Low levels of COQ10 are found in melanoma, breast, neck, lymphoma, lung, prostate, colon, kidney, pancreas and head cancers. Treatment of cancer patients with COQ10 has led to increased survival rates that seem related to its role in respect of cellular ATP (fuel for cells) production, immune system stimulation, and neutralization of free radical damage to DNA. Suggested dose is in the range of 300 to 400mg per day.

     5.9                   Astragalus

Astragalus is a herb that has been used in Chinese medicine for thousands of years to assist with adrenal function, fatigue, digestion, metabolism and to increase stamina. It is viewed as the “top performer” for lengthening telomeres and rebuilding the tips of DNA. It improves the immune function in people suffering from cancer. It increases the ability of T cells and natural killer (NK) cells to kill cancer cells. It also helps to turn on Interleukin-2 with its anti-tumor activity.

     5.10                 Vitamin C

In low physiological doses Vit C has shown to be one of the better antioxidants in the body. When administered in supraphysiological doses intravenously it acts as a prooxidant. It increases the levels of hydrogen peroxide in intercellular fluid, but not in the blood. Normal cells possess the enzymes catalase and glutathione peroxidase, which metabolizes the hydrogen peroxide into water and oxygen. Cancer cells however do not possess these enzymes and are killed when exposed to the hydrogen peroxide. Vit C has been shown to kill up to 80% of lymphoma cells with virtually no damage to healthy cells.

     5.11                 Resveratrol

Resveratrol acts as an antioxidant, antimutagen and anti-initiation factor. Studies in mice have shown that resveratrol inhibits colon, esophageal and gastrointestinal tract tumors. An inverse relationship has been found between resveratrol intake and breast cancer, i.e. the more resveratrol intake the lower the risk of breast cancer. Studies have also shown that the growth of blood vessels was suppressed by resveratrol. Increased blood flow is essential for cancer to grow.


A multi-pronged attack is suggested to beat cancer. My advice is that in the early stages the focus should be on utilizing natural cures and changes in diet and exercise. It is up to the individual to decide whether they want to attempt more aggressive treatment options. If I were diagnosed with cancer I would not choose radiation, chemotherapy or surgery. I would utilize all the natural therapies mentioned above.