Integrative, Complementary Treatment
for Cancer with Orthomolecular Medicine
The use of large doses of nutrients for the treatment of cancer has not yet entered the mainstream of medicine, not in the Universities, nor in the medical journals, or in the wards, halls and corridors of hospitals. But it is beginning to do so, largely due to the persistence and dedication of Professor Linus Pauling. He needed forums in which to outline his views and these were provided for him by the physicians and other interested individuals. The Canadian Schizophrenia Foundation was honored to host Linus Pauling on three separate occasions, in Toronto and in Vancouver.
About the same time the National Cancer Institute held a meeting in September 1990. This was not a clinical meeting. No one presented clinical data showing what nutrients might do. At this meeting Dr. Linus Pauling and two associates presented their findings. Dr. Pauling commented at that meeting "It is very interesting to be here since, for some ten years or so, you have refused every request of mine for research grants on vitamin C".
The Proceedings, National Academy of Sciences (US) refused to publish any clinical papers authored by Dr. Linus Pauling. The first paper, by Hoffer and Pauling, was rejected. During May 10-12, (1991) Jay Patrick, President, Alacer Corporation, hosted a meeting - the Second World Congress on Vitamin C and The Immune System, in San Diego, Bahia Resort Hotel. He had hosted the First World Congress on Vitamin C in 1978 in Palm Springs. That one was addressed by Dr. Szent-Gyorgyi who won the Noble Prize for his work on vitamin C and intermediary metabolism, by Dr. Linus Pauling, and by Dr. Fred Klenner, the first physician to use megadoses of vitamin C.
The Second World Congress brought together a distinguished group of vitamin researchers and clinicians including Dr. E. Cheraskin, Dr. C.A.B. Clemetson, Dr. E. Ginter, Dr. J. Priestly, and others. Their papers were published in the Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine Volume 6, 1991. I also presented a report on the clinical procedures I was then using in treating the terminally ill cancer patients with Vitamin C. Dr. Linus Pauling presented an excellent outline of his research into vitamin C and Cancer but his presentation was not published. Dr. Pauling was an excellent speaker, very honest, and very blunt.
The following quotation from his paper will convey some of the flavour of his presentations. "When Irvine Stone wrote to me in 1965, after having heard me give a talk in which I said that I would like to live 25 years longer in order to enjoy reading about the new discoveries about the nature of the world that no doubt would be made by scientists during these 25 years and said if I were to take three grams a day of Vitamin C, I would perhaps not only live the 25 years but even 50 years. And that was when I increased my uptake ot ascorbate fifty fold to 3,000 milligrams a day, then later to a hundredfold, 6000, then to two hundredfold, then to three hundredfold and I'm still not sure what the optimum intake is. There is a practical reason why I stopped at three hundredfold at 18,000. Well, I think that's pretty important. I read a statement by physicians that they should tell their patients not to worry about being constipated. I think they should worry about being constipated, its so harmful to carry waste toxic materials around an unnecessarily long period of time. So,it was Irwin Stone that got me interested in Vitamin C and of course, it was that scoundrel Victor Herbert who was responsible for my having begun writing books about vitamins".
So the other day I got a book published by the National Academy of Sciences on control of diseases. It mentions practically nothing about vitamins and their usefulness but it does have something about common colds. A statement that 16 control trials have been turned out, every one of which showed that Vitamin C has no value in controlling the common cold, preventing or controlling the common cold. They didn't listen, but I'm sure they're the 16 control trials that I discuss in my books, where I give the amount of decrease in illness. Every one of these shows that Vitamin C has value, not that it doesn't have value. That's perhaps a minor misrepresentation.
A couple of years ago, I got two or three letters from people who sent me clippings from a magazine. One of them said he had stopped taking his Vitamin C because of the statement in this magazine. It was a quotation from the Professor of Medicine at Yale University Medical School. I had mentioned, three or four weeks ago, while speaking in Yale University Medical School, his statement that you shouldn't take as much as even one gram of Vitamin C per day because it will damage the liver. So I wrote to him and said that I read the literature on Vitamin C to the extent that I can, and there are a couple of thousand new papers published every year about Vitamin C, but I missed the meal. Would you please send me the references to the work done on the damage done to the liver. Well, he was a gentleman, which you'd expect at Yale Medical School and often when I write letters like that I don't get an answer from them. He wrote back saying oh, that was just a mistake. That was the end of that. So far as I know he didn't write to the magazine and say that was a mistake, but he did say it to me. And there are lots of mistakes of this sort about vitamins that perhaps sometimes intentionally misrepresent the facts.
For some perhaps there is a reason an economic, financial reason, that there is so much opposition in the medical establishment against improving your health by taking vitamins."
This first symposium which included laboratory and medical scientists was one of the first with this mix of clinical and preclinical data. The number attending was not very large but they made up in quality for the lack of numbers. There I met Dr. Patrick Quillin, Vice President of Nutrition, Cancer Treatment Centers of America. He was thinking about organizing a conference to consider the connection between nutrition and cancer. I thought it was an excellent idea and encouraged him to do so.
The first symposium was held in Tulsa, Oklahoma, November 6 to 8, 1992. The title of the meeting was Adjuvent Nutrition in Cancer Treatment. Over 300 physicians and others attended. Participating were seven Universities, more than 6 cancer institutes. The last half day of the symposium was taken up by clinical studies including my report, and a report from Prof Rudy Falk, University of Toronto Medical School. This was the first meeting were both the academic physicians and orthomolecular physicians met in an amicable and interesting exchange of information.
The meeting was co- sponsored by the Cancer Treatment Research Foundation and the American College of Nutrition, and published as a proceedings. In my presentation at the Tulsa Conference I described how I became involved in the treatment of patients with cancer. My preliminary data indicated that the addition of vitamin C in mega doses improved the outcome of treatment substantially. I described these findings to Linus Pauling. He urged me to follow up carefully every patient I had seen and offered to analyze the follow up data using the method he had developed.
In our two recent studies, Hoffer and Pauling concluded that the addition of vitamin C improved the outcome of treatment for cancer significantly and substantially. In the first study 134 patients seen between August 1977 and March 1988 were followed until December 31, 1989. We concluded that orthomolecular treatment given to female related cancers had improved life expectancy about 20 times compared to our non random controls and 12 times for other cancers.
In our second paper a second cohort of 170 patients seen between April 1988 to December 31, 1989 was followed to December 31, 1992. These results were about the same as those we had published earlier. We concluded that while vitamin C alone led to about 10 % excellent responders the addition of the other nutrients increased this to about 40 %.
Orthomolecular treatment improves the quality of life. It also decreases the side effects of radiation and chemotherapy. The program is palatable. The only patients who could not follow it were those who were getting chemotherapy and suffered severe nausea and vomiting or patients who could not swallow because of lesions in their throat. Orthomolecular therapy provides a step forward in the battle against cancer and must be fully explored.
There can be no logical reason today why most of the research funds should go only toward the examination of more chemotherapy and more ways of giving radiation. There must be a major expansion into the use of orthomolecular therapy to sort out the variables and to determine how to improve the therapeutic outcome of treatment.
Anti Cancer Nutrition
A large number of special diets ranging from fasting (water only) to juice fasts to low fat and sugar free diets are used. Every one of the special diets have proponents who think they are very helpful, and patients who have been helped by them but no one has ever conducted an experiment to compare all the diets to determine which is the best. Perhaps there will never be a "best". Because of the individuality of people it may turn out that each person will have to determine what is their own best diet.
Almost all the diets used by complementary therapists are lower in animal proteins, much more vegetarian, with emphasis on vegetables rich in bioflavonoids and fruits.
I advise my patients to obey three rules:
(1) To eliminate all junk food i.e,. food containing any added simple sugars like table sugar or glucose as in corn syrup. This simple rule, comprehensible even to children, will eliminate nearly 90% of the additives commonly added to processed foods.
( 2) To reduce fat levels, I think that dairy products are the chief villains. Nearly every study internationally has shown that countries with lower fat intake have fewer cases of cancer, particulary breast cancer. Milk is very rich in estrogens from the cow and in phytoestrogens from the grass that they eat.
(3) To eliminate all foods they know they are allergic to. These rules allow the diet to be varied, palatable and interesting.
No one should take any supplements until they have become familiar with their properties and how to use them. It is advisable always to work with a knowledgeable physician. But if they can not find any physician or orthomolecular nutritionist they should go ahead on their own using the information now readily available on nutrition and vitamin supplements. They should advise their doctors what they are doing and which supplements they are using. By listing the vitamins and dose ranges I am not suggesting that every person need to take them all. This is an individual matter based on discussions with their doctor.The vitamin and mineral supplements are compatible with medication and with the diet.
The dose range is anywhere from 3 to 40 grams daily in three divided doses. If the dose is too high it will not be absorbed by the intestines, will stay in the bowel and act like a laxative causing loose stools and gas. It is a good laxative. The best dose does not act like a laxative. Forms of vitamin C include the pure ascorbic acid (hydrogen ascorbate), and the mineral salts such as sodium ascorbate (slightly salty in taste), calcium ascorbate (slightly bitter), and other salts often found in combinations of the mineral ascorbates, In large doses it is best used as the powder dissolved in water or one of the juices. Do not use commercial grade vitamin C crystals of powders. Use CP grades as is found in drug stores or health food stores. Contrary to false rumours issued by some hostile critics of megadose vitamin use it does not cause kidney stones, does not cause pernicious anemia, does not cause sterility.
A recent suggestion in a letter, to Nature, published in England concluded that more than 500 milligrams of vitamin C daily could cause DNA damage. This was based on one of a possible 20 markers that could have been used which showed no damage and a 21st marker which is seriously questioned. Some of the key scientists in this field criticized these conclusions. My only comment is that if they were correct why do my patients who take large doses of vitamin C live so much longer. Vitamin B-3. There are two forms. Niacin lowers cholesterol, elevates high density lipoprotein cholesterol and reduces the ravages of heart disease, but causes flushing when it is first taken. The flushing reaction dissipates in time and in most cases is gone or very minor within a matter of weeks. Niacinamide, the other form, has no effect on blood fats (lipids) but is not a vasodilator.
There have been 7 international conferences on the theme niacin and cancer. This vitamin is an essential component of the enzyme systems that repair broken DNA molecules. The dose ranges from 100 milligrams three times daily to 1000 milligrams three times daily. Several studies in Detroit have found that the response rate of cancer around the head and neck was 10% on radiation alone but increased to 80% when patients were given large doses of niacinamide. Very rarely niacin will cause obstructive jaundice which clears when the niacin is stopped. For details see my book Orthomolecular Medicine for Physicians.
Vitamin E (d alpha tocopherol succinate). This water soluble form has the greated efficacy in controlling cancer cell growth in the test tube and is the one I recommend should be used. The dose ranges from 400 to 1200 International Units daily.
Vitamin E is the major fat soluble anti- oxidant in the body and plays a role by decreasing the concentration of free radicals which are thought to be involved in the creation of the cancer. It also decreases the risk of heart disease, thus confirming what was found over fifty years in Ontario by Drs. Wilfrid and Evan Shute.
Most people have heard of beta carotene but this is only one of a large number of carotenoids which are present in colored vegetables and fruits such as carrots, beets, tomatos and greens. The evidence is very powerful that these mixed carotenoids as found in these foods will decrease the incidence of cancer but there is a question about the efficacy of the pure beta carotene. There is still a vigorous debate about this. I prefer carrot juice to the beta carotene. Generally it is better to have a large variety of these natural anti cancer factors. Beta carotene is very safe. The only question is whether it is the best form. Only a small portion is converted into vitamin A.
Several studies have found this important vitamin has anti cancer properties, for cancer of the cervix and of the lung in lung smokers. This does not mean it is safe to smoke. It does mean that smokers should take it and immediately start their campaign to stop smoking. Women should take ample amounts to prevent neural tube disorders such as spina bifida. The US government plans to add it to flour. Canada is still thinking about it. The dose range is from 1 to 30 milligrams daily. It can be taken only on prescription.
Coenzyme Q 10.
Dr. Karl Folkers discovered this substance, also called ubiquinone; toward the end of his long and distinguished career he regretted that he had not called it a vitamin. It is an odd vitamin since young people are able to make enough from the lower numbered ubiquinones such as Q 6 or Q 8 whereas older people and anyone ill is not able to make enough. It thus becomes a vitamin later in llife and when onc becomes ill. A few clinical studies have shown that in large doses it has anticancer properties especially for breast cancer. These range from 300 milligrams to 600 milligrams daily.
Mineral supplements Selenium
The presence or absense of this trace element has the clearest relationship to the presence of cancer. People living on soils that are rich in selenium have a lower incidence. I recommend between 200 to 1000 micrograms daily. One of my patients took 2000 with no side effects.
Calcium and magnesium
These are generally very useful to take to maintain calcium levels in bones and blood. They have been found helpful in cases of bowel cancer. Women should receive 1500 milligrams of calcium daily from their food and supplements and half as much magnesium. There are several forms of these minerals available. Usually a person will absorb into their body anywhere between 25 and 50% of the calcium.
Zinc and copper
There is a reciprocal connection between these two. If blood zinc levels are too high the copper levels will be too low. Because zinc can shrnik enlarged prostate glands and may be helpful in the treatment of this cancer. I have been using it routinely. Also, people in Victoria tend to be low in zinc levels because our water is soft, and dissolves copper more easily from copper plumbing.
Other Substances Found in Plants
A large number of these preparations are being used for the treatment of cancer. They include bioflavonoids, preparations from soy bean, and from mushrooms. Vaccines are also being used. Coley's vaccine originated over 100 years ago. I will not discuss these, nor other treatments such as 714-X, Ukrain, Iscador, Cartilage, Carnivora, Amygdalin (Laetril), Esiac, and many herbs. These are described in the book by Diamond, Cowden and Goldberg.
Most of the speakers at the 26th Annual International Conference on Nutritional Medicine Today, Toronto, April 1997, discussed various topics dealing with the principles and pracice of orthomolecular medicine. Dr. C.Simone spoke on "Breast Cancer: Nutritional and Lifestyle Modification to Augment Oncology Care". Dr. Somone is well known for his work in researching complementary treatment of cancer. He is an Internist, Medical Oncologist, Immunologist and Radiation Oncologist and has published several valuable books including Cancer and Nutrition and A Ten Point Plan to Reduce Your Risk of Getting Cancer. Optimum nutrition, avoiding toxic substances in food and water, and other lifestyle changes will materially reduce the risk of developing cancer.
Here is his ten point plan:
(1) Nutrition: calories slightly below average to maintain a weight just below the average weight. Should be high in fiber, rich in fish, fruits, and vegetables and with vitamin and mineral suplements. Eliminate additives and salt.
(2) Avoid tobacco.
(3) Avoid alcohol (one drink per week allowed).
(4) Avoid radiation. Take X-ray only when necessary and avoid excessive exposure to sun.
(5) Keep environment, air, water,and work place clean.
(6) Avoid promiscuity, hormones and any unnecessary drugs.
(7). Learn early warning signs like a lump in the breast.
(8) Exercise and relax regularly.
(9) Take a yearly physical.
(10) Read his book for a self test of risk factors and symptoms that may indicate cancer or heart disease.
Diet and cancers of the larynx and hypopharynx: the IARC multi-center study in southwestern Europe. In Cancer Causes and Control 7:240-252,1996. These ten points should be part of every treatment program as well. The main difference is that in treatment the first point becomes even more important and the doses of supplements are much greater. The sicker a person is the more nutrients are needed in optimum doses to help the bodies reparative mechanisms. Treatment must be started as soon as the diagnosis is suspected and made, and should be concurrent with any other treatment recommended by oncologists and cancer specialists.
Eventually all cancer specialists will be using these orthomolecular techniques. Supplements must be maintained while chemotherapy or radiation are being used. Studies have shown that these supplements enhance the toxic effect of the treatment on the lesion and decrease the toxic effects on the body. Patients do not suffer as much from the side effects and recover much more quickly when the treatment series is completed. They enhance the quality of life during and after treatment.
A.Hoffer PhD MD FRCP(C)
April 23, 2010