Cancer, Can Functional Medicine Help?

Cancer occurs when cells in the body start to grow and divide in an uncontrolled manner. All healthy cells are programmed so they know when to divide and when to stop. This programming is controlled by genes called oncogenes. If these genes become damaged then cells can proliferate in an uncontrolled manner becoming a tumour.

Cells that aren’t behaving properly should be noticed by the immune system and destroyed. However, if the immune system is compromised or the number of aberrant cells being created is large, these damaged cells can run riot.

There are many different factors that can damage the genes inside cells and cause cancerous changes. These are called mutagens and include:

·       Sunlight – sun exposure is associated with an increased risk of skin cancer

·       Radioactive substances

·       Free radicals – highly reactive chemicals that form part of pollution and are found in foods such as oils heated to high temperatures

·       Polyaromatic hydrocarbons – these form on chargrilled meats

·       Many industrial chemicals – such as benzene, aromatic amines and bromine

·       Heavy metals – for example, arsenic, lead and cadmium

·       Viruses – for example, the human papillomavirus which is associated with cervical cancer.

·       Certain bacteria – such as Helicobacter Pylori, a bacteria associated with stomach ulcers and gastric cancer.

Some of these are avoidable others are not. Preventing cancer is about reducing exposure to mutagens where possible as well as supporting the body’s defence systems. This means ensuring the body has everything it needs to mop up free radicals and supporting the immune system so it has the best chance of identifying and removing cancerous cells.

For those suffering from cancer, functional medicine can also offer support.

Jo Gamble has undertaken an Integrative Medicine Fellowship training under international leaders in integrative cancer care.

Whatever treatment approach you have decided to follow, Jo can provide can provide you with a personalised treatment plan using up-to-date research that complements your conventional treatments. This will include strategies to maximise your nutrition, support immune function and minimise the side effects of your medical treatments. Integrative support can also continue beyond the treatment window, with recommendations for sustaining remission or for compassionate end-of-life care.