The scent of cancer caused a national ruckus recently when a New Mexico school principal banned a mother with stage 4 breast cancer from participating in school activities with her children (see our November 18, 2013 tweets). Why? School staff complained about her smell!
The incident raised the ire of people in the woman’s own community and across the nation. Messages poured in condemning the principal’s decision and supporting the cancer patient and her family. The take-away message was that cancer patients and their families rely on and profit from the support of their families, friends and community; but the incident also piqued people’s curiosity. Does cancer affect the way a person smells?
Body odor is the natural result of the expulsion of waste products through our breath, blood, urine and skin. The way we smell can be affected by changes in body chemistry. Certain dietary practices, diseases and medications are known to cause changes in body scent. Chemotherapy appears to have been the cause of the chemical scent that created so much trouble for the New Mexico mom. But the evidence linking cancer to scent is largely experiential.
Organic chemist George Preti of the Monell Chemical Senses Center, who has spent more than 40 years studying human scent, hopes to change that. Working with an interdisciplinary team from the University of Pennsylvania, Preti is now attempting to identify the scent of cancer, specifically ovarian cancer. If Preti’s team is successful, the ability to scent cancer in its early stages before it is detectable by other methods could prove to be a powerful diagnostic tool.
You have many options for receiving treatment for your cancer, and the use of probiotics may be one companion treatment you’d want to investigate.
The link between cancer and probiotics is still being assessed by researchers, but there’s evidence that this “good” bacteria often found in a healthy gut may lessen the often damaging side-effects of chemotherapy.
Probiotics are live-culture organisms like bacteria and yeast, which grow naturally in our body’s digestive systems. Although the word “bacteria” may sound risky (think about all the antibiotics prescribed for various ailments), when processed correctly these organisms actually contribute to a healthier gut and a boosted immune system.
Cancer and probiotics
Probiotics’ benefits to the immune system is particularly relevant in terms of cancer treatment. If you have undergone chemotherapy, you know that this treatment works by seeking out and killing not just the cancerous cells, but fast-growing cells of all descriptions – that’s why you lose your hair.
And among other targeted cells are the ones that contribute to your immune system. When those are killed off, you risk infection. So a regimen of probiotics may help keep your immunity stronger during and after chemo.
Forms of probiotics
Because they are a supplement and not a drug, probiotics are widely available over the counter, added into products like yogurt, chocolate and granola bars. You can also find probiotics capsules.
Air pollution in China has reached alarming levels. Recent near-zero visibility in Beijing forced China to issue a red alert that curtailed vehicle use and shut down factories, according to a CNN report. Not surprisingly, Beijing officials have reported a more than 63% rise in lung cancer over the past decade, according to Medical Daily. While cigarette smoking certainly plays a role, experts say chronic air pollution is becoming a major risk factor for lung cancer and a likely cause of increasing lung cancer rates among non-smokers. Lung cancer is now the No. 1 cancer killer in China.
“There are lots of carcinogens emitted with industrial pollution,” C. Arden Pope of Brigham Young University told National Geographic. “Our respiratory systems filter out the relatively large particles from air pollution … The tiny ones come nearly entirely from burning things – coal, gasoline and diesel. Those tiny combustion particles are small enough to penetrate the lungs, and they’re made up of all sorts of nasty particles.”
Following 9/11, clouds of airborne particulate were blamed for the sharp spike in cancer cases, including lung cancer, among first responders and people who lived or worked near the site of the World Trade Towers.
Interestingly, airborne pollution from cigarette smoke or industrial pollutants doesn’t pose the only lung cancer risk. High levels of arsenic in drinking water are a major risk factor for a form of lung cancer that appears to be linked to the tumor microenvironment. Issels’ non-toxic cancer vaccines are unique in that they attack not only the cancer tumor but the surrounding tumor microenvironment. Visit our website for more information.
If you answered breast cancer, you are not alone; but you would be wrong. Most women are surprised to find out that lung cancer is the deadliest type of cancer for women. Lung cancer accounts for nearly 40% of all cancer deaths among women, compared to 22% for breast cancer and 13% for colorectal cancer, the third leading cause of cancer death among women, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Perhaps because breast cancer receives so much press and is so obviously linked to women, many people assume that breast cancer poses women’s greatest cancer fatality risk. However, while it is the most common “female” cancer, breast cancer is only the second leading cause of cancer death among women and is one of the more treatable forms of cancer. (Among women of Hispanic heritage, breast cancer is the No. 1 cancer killer with lung cancer running a close second.) Particularly when discovered early, breast cancer frequently offers a high rate of successful long-term remission. As Issels treatment cases indicate, even when discovered late, integrated immunotherapy has helped many breast cancer patients achieve long-term remission.
November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month, an excellent opportunity to discuss risk factors and treatment options for the cancer that causes more deaths among women than breast, uterine and ovarian cancer combined! While smoking is the primary cause of lung cancer, the disease also strikes many women who have never smoked. As it has for women with breast cancer, Issels personalized immunotherapy has also helped numerous lung cancer patients achieve successful remission.
The ability to examine cancer at the genetic level is generating tremendous volumes of new data that are both expanding and complicating our understanding of cancer. New cancer studies are identifying an increasing number of specific cancer risk factors; but in most cases we do not yet understand how those risk factors eventually develop into certain types of cancer or why some people develop cancer but others do not when risk factors are present.
To understand the complexities involved, consider these examples:
• A study of nearly 145,000 post-menopausal women between the ages of 50 and 79 found that height was a greater indicator of cancer risk than obesity, which is now known to increase the risk of multiple cancers. Researchers suspect that the growth hormones that influence height may also play a role in the cell division processes associated with cancer tumor development.
• Another study of more than 2,000 men found that truck drivers were four times more likely than most other men to develop an aggressive form of prostate cancer. Because another study revealed a similar risk among operators of heavy machinery, researchers suspect that exposure to constant vibration may be the common trigger.
The ability to process and mine vast volumes of data is revealing many new commonalities within cancer populations that point to potential risk factors. It is hoped that risk factor identification will lead to better cancer prevent techniques and greater use of advanced targeted cancer therapies. The growing number of individual cancer risk factors also points to the importance of individualized immunotherapy in tailoring cancer treatment to an individual’s specific needs.
Study of the cancer genome, a field of research called genomics, has been instrumental in helping researchers unlock cancer’s mysteries. Research into cancer’s genetic code is allowing scientists to explore and experiment with cancer’s most basic building blocks. The result has been phenomenal growth in the area of personalized cancer treatment and advanced targeted cancer therapies.
Now researchers are exploring the use of genomic technology to accelerate patient trials of new cancer drugs designed to target the specific molecular profiles of individual tumors. Set to undergo its first major clinical trial in 2014, the genomic trial model is being heralded by some scientists as the possible beginning of a new era of advanced personalized cancer treatment.
The clinical trial will match new lung cancer drugs to the unique molecular profile of each patient’s tumor and test treatment effectiveness. “If successful, the trial could help bring cancer genome-targeted medicines to patients more quickly than has been possible to date,” an article in MIT Technology Reviewexplained; adding, “One of the great promises of genomic medicine is that doctors will be able to tailor treatments to an individual patient’s disease.”
With our colleagues in the U.S. cancer community we will await the results of this new trial model with great interest. At Issels alternative cancer treatment centers, we have been practicing individualized, targeted cancer therapies for decades with remarkable success. We also found it interesting that the new trial will test immunotherapy drugs designed to stimulate the body’s immune system to attack cancer cells. We have been leaders in the use of immunotherapy to treat cancer for more than 60 years.