Saturday, November 2nd 2013
Written By Sayer Ji
The humble spice turmeric, in doses available for pennies a day, has been found to reduce one of the most devastating side effects of radiation treatment for head and neck cancer.
Each year, 60,000 patients are diagnosed with ‘head and neck cancer,’ which includes cancer of the mouth, tongue, pharynx, larynx, oral cavity, and thyroid.[i] Sadly, within the conventional medical model, radiation therapy is the ‘standard of care’ for this type of cancer, which involves the use of up to 50-70 Grays of radiation over a 5-7 week period. To put this dose into perspective, a whole-body exposure to 8 Grays of high-energy radiation in a single dose has a 100% mortality rate within two weeks.[ii] This is a major (if not the primary) reason why radiation oncologists use ‘fractionation,’ breaking the total dose up into smaller fractions over time (1.8-2 Grays per day), in order to prevent the rapid death of the patient from acute radiation poisoning.
The primary adverse symptoms experienced by post-radiation treatment survivors is known as ‘oral mucositis,’ involving tissue destruction and functional problems in the oral cavity, which is painful, affects nutrition, contributes to local and systemic infections and greatly reduces the quality of life.[iii] There are other lesser known and potentially more lethal problems associated with radiotherapy, not the least of which is its ability to transform non-tumorigenic cancer cells into tumor-initiating ones (exhibiting cancer stem cell-like properties), but the medical establishment rarely if ever touches upon these downstream effects, many of which can not easily be linked to the treatment, or are conveniently written off as being caused by the recurrence of “treatment-resistant” cancer and not the inherent carcinogenicity of radiotherapy itself.
While in many ways the treatment of head and neck cancer through solely conventional means is tragic today, the medical establishment is beginning to wake up to the utility of natural compounds in at least reducing or preventing unnecessary harm caused by the use of chemotherapy and radiation. There is no denying that a massive body of research has now accumulated showing that spices as common as turmeric are capable of both increasing the effectiveness of conventional treatment while at the same time reducing the collateral damage to the patient caused by them. [Read: Integrative Cancer Research: Surviving Chemo & Radiation for more information]. From the perspective of a patient faced with the inevitable side effects of radiotherapy, it is clearly unethical for practicing physicians to ignore, or worse, deny the evidence that better outcomes are available using an integrative approach.
Photo credit: wdc.engl.iastate.edu
All the more reason why a new study published in the journal Integrative Cancer Therapies, should move the oncology community closer in this direction. Titled,”The Indian Spice Turmeric Delays and Mitigates Radiation-Induced Oral Mucositis in Patients Undergoing Treatment for Head and Neck Cancer: An Investigational Study,”[iv] researchers evaluated the efficacy of turmeric in preventing radiation-induced mucositis.
Continue reading at Household Spice Protects Against Radiation Treatment’s Horrible.