Supportive Supplements for Fighting Cancer

While we would like to believe that obtaining all the nutrients you need was possible from a diet rich in whole foods, the depletion of soil nutrients due to the phasing out of crop rotation after World War II, has resulted in fruits and vegetables containing far fewer essential vitamins and minerals than prior. To put this into perspective, consuming eight oranges today would be necessary to obtain the same amount of vitamin C found in just one orange from the 1950s. Therefore, considering supportive supplements becomes important to ensure sufficient nutrient intake throughout a cancer journey.

After the Second World War, there was an abundance of certain elements, nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium (known as NPK in horticulture), initially intended for the production of bombs. However, scientists realised the potential to repurpose these surplus elements in an effort to alleviate hunger among the millions affected by the aftermath of WWII. Adding these elements to the soil acted as a powerful fertiliser, accelerating crop growth without the need for crop rotation. This practice, known as chemical or synthetic fertilisation, brought significant changes to agricultural practices and enhanced food production.

While synthetic fertilisers helped improved crop yields and food manufacturers profit margins, they also presented challenges. Their excessive use over time caused imbalances in soil nutrients and disrupted natural ecosystems. The reliance on chemical fertilisation overshadowed the importance of organic matter and beneficial microorganisms in the soil, essential for nutrient cycling and soil health. As a result, it has become difficult, or near impossible to consume all the necessary nutrients for cellular regeneration and prevention of degenerative diseases.

Therefore, it is important to source high-quality supplements while maintaining a healthy diet predominantly composed of organic foods from farms that practice crop rotation and abstain from pesticide use. In recent years, there has been a positive shift towards sustainable and organic farming practices that prioritise soil health and environmental harmony. These approaches emphasise the use of organic fertilisers, composting, and cover cropping to maintain soil fertility and support long-term agricultural sustainability.

Of course, I first need to tell you that it is important to consult with your healthcare team before starting any supplements, however there are several well-studied options that may provide supportive benefits during cancer treatment. It is essential to note that these supplements are not intended to replace medical interventions but rather complement your treatment plan and promote overall wellbeing.

Here are some of the most effective and proven supplements along with their potential benefits:

Selenium: Selenium is an essential trace mineral that has been recognised for its potential role in cancer prevention. Studies have shown that selenium exhibits powerful antioxidant properties, helping to protect cells from oxidative damage caused by free radicals. By neutralising these harmful free radicals, selenium can help prevent DNA damage and mutations that may lead to the development of cancer. Selenium is also involved in the regulation of various cellular processes, including DNA synthesis and repair, immune function, and cell proliferation. It has also been suggested that selenium may enhance the immune system’s response to tumour cells and inhibit the growth of cancerous cells. While further research is needed to fully understand the mechanisms involved, incorporating selenium-rich foods into a balanced diet and considering selenium supplements may offer potential benefits in reducing the risk of certain types of cancer. Our soil used to be rich in selenium however now due to the cessation of crop rotation, the soil and the food grown in it has become deficient. There are several studies being completed trying to prove the link between the deficiency of selenium and the development of cancer. Selenium is an inexpensive supplement to purchase, and my wife and I take it every day for preventative measures.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish oil and certain plant sources such as flaxseed, have anti-inflammatory properties and may help reduce inflammation associated with cancer. They also support heart health and may enhance the effectiveness of chemotherapy while reducing side effects. It is important to note that if you are taking blood-thinning medication, it is advised not to supplement fish oils.

Probiotics: Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that promote a healthy gut micro biome. They can help improve digestion, strengthen the immune system, and support overall gut health. Probiotics may be especially helpful during cancer treatment when the gut micro biota can be disrupted. You can find naturally occurring probiotics in fermented foods and dairy and drinks such as kefir and kombucha.

Vitamin D: Adequate levels of vitamin D are essential for immune function, bone health, and overall wellbeing. Some studies suggest that vitamin D may play a role in cancer prevention and treatment. You can get your daily dose of Vitamin D from 15-20 minutes of mild sun exposure or through an oil-based capsule taken daily. Talk to your healthcare provider about appropriate vitamin D supplementation based on your individual needs and levels.

Curcumin: Curcumin, the active compound in turmeric, has powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It may help reduce inflammation, promote immune function, and potentially inhibit the growth of cancer cells. However, it’s important to note that curcumin’s absorption is limited, so it is often taken in supplement form with added enhancers like piperine (from black pepper) to improve absorption.

Green Tea Extract: Green tea contains polyphenols, such as epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), which have been studied for their potential anti-cancer properties. Green tea extract supplements may help inhibit tumour growth, reduce inflammation, and provide antioxidant support. However, it’s advisable to consider potential interactions with medications, so consult with your healthcare provider before taking green tea extract.

Mushroom Extracts: Certain mushroom species, such as reishi, maitake, and shiitake, have been traditionally used for their immune-enhancing properties. Mushroom extracts may support immune function, reduce inflammation, and provide antioxidant benefits. Look for standardised extracts that ensure consistent levels of beneficial compounds.

Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10): CoQ10 is a naturally occurring antioxidant that plays a vital role in cellular energy production. It may help reduce the side effects of chemotherapy, support heart health, and provide antioxidant protection. However, although it is very beneficial, it is important to discuss CoQ10 supplementation with your healthcare provider, as it can interact with certain medications.

Vitamin C: Vitamin C is an essential nutrient with antioxidant properties. It supports immune function, collagen synthesis, and may help reduce the side effects of chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Intravenous high-dose vitamin C has been studied for its potential anti-cancer effects, but it should only be used under the supervision of a healthcare professional.

Melatonin: Melatonin is a hormone that regulates sleep-wake cycles. It also acts as an antioxidant and may have anti-cancer properties. Some research suggests that melatonin supplementation may improve sleep quality, reduce treatment-related side effects, and enhance the effectiveness of certain therapies.

L-Glutamine: L-Glutamine is an amino acid that plays a crucial role in cellular metabolism and immune function. It is commonly used to support gut health, reduce mucositis (inflammation of the digestive tract), and improve overall wellbeing during cancer treatment. Consult with your healthcare provider for the appropriate dosage and timing.

Modified Citrus Pectin (MCP): MCP is a soluble fibre derived from citrus fruits. It has been studied for its potential anti-cancer effects, particularly in preventing the spread of cancer cells (metastasis). MCP may also support immune function and overall detoxification. However, further research is needed to fully understand its benefits.

Milk Thistle: Milk thistle, or silymarin, is an herb known for its liver-protective properties. It may help alleviate liver toxicity associated with certain cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy. Milk thistle supplements are available in various forms, including standardised extracts.

Remember, these supplements should be used under the guidance of your healthcare team, who can assess their appropriateness for your specific situation and ensure they don’t interfere with your treatment or medications. Additionally, the effectiveness and safety of supplements may vary depending on individual circumstances so personalised guidance is crucial.