Complementary and Alternative Treatments for Cancer

Digestive Enzymes

The Covid-19 pandemic has significantly affected the rates of other serious diseases such as cancer. Death rates due to different cancers are trending higher due to neglect of screening, delays in surgeries, and cancellation of cancer-monitoring visits.

Prior to the pandemic, media outlets reported frequently on the progress of famous celebrities like Alex Trebek who is suffering from pancreatic cancer. But with the Covid-19 pandemic the media has redirected their focus to related issues such as who is and isn’t wearing masks or doing social distancing. It’s almost as if poor Alex has been all but forgotten in the pandemic reporting.

It’s only recently that we’ve been reminded of the seriousness of cancer with the death of famous black panther actor Chadwick Bosewell from colon cancer. (By the way, he did not suffer from Covid-19.)

Both of these celebrities opted for conventional cancer treatment which included surgery and chemotherapy. So far this approach has been successful for Alex, but sadly not for Chadwick.

The overall pancreatic cancer 5-year survival rate is 9%, and that’s with surgery and chemotherapy. With the placebo (sugar pills) effect being as high as 72% according to Psychology Today, a survival rate of 9% is hardly something one can brag about.

Do Supplements Interfere with Chemotherapy and Radiation?

Conventional medicine rightfully advises people not to smoke, and to drink alcohol only in moderation – but not much of anything else in terms of proactive prevention or complementary medical treatments. Some doctors have even advised their cancer patients to avoid using nutritional supplements due to the fear of “protecting cancer cells” from being killed off by radiation and chemotherapy.

The main issue that seems to cause controversy is consumption of antioxidant pills while a patient is undergoing radiation and chemotherapy. Do the two treatments conflict with each other – thus making treatment results worse? Some studies show that the use of high dose antioxidants makes chemotherapy more effective, less toxic, and creates better overall treatment results.

Unfortunately there are also studies that show the opposite. In other words, we do not have a definitive conclusion about whether or not it’s advisable to avoid antioxidants during chemotherapy.

To be safe, if a patient is receiving radiation or chemotherapy, antioxidants should be used only at a different time, either a few days before or after receiving conventional treatment. This compromise appears to be satisfactory to both oncologists and practitioners of Complementary Medicine. (There are no medical restrictions for eating high-antioxidant foods while receiving conventional cancer treatments, only if those antioxidants are in pill form. Apparently, something magical must be occurring when you transform garlic, broccoli, blueberries, pomegranates, cod live oil and oranges into pills.)

So, keeping all this in mind, what complementary and alternative approaches are available to those who get a cancer diagnosis?

The Anti-Cancer Diet

The single most important effect of an anti-cancer diet is controlling blood sugar. Overly high levels of blood sugar can damage a person’s DNA, increasing cancer risk. Diabetes (or even simply high blood sugar) is associated with increased risk for several cancers including colon, breast, pancreatic, liver, uterine, and bladder cancers, as well as Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

High levels of insulin seen in Type 2 (adult onset) diabetes, combined with high blood sugar levels and inflammation, all increase cancer risk. The most commonly used diabetes drug, Metformin, was proven to lower cancer risk by as much as 54% in one study. On the other hand, some studies indicate that the use of long-acting insulin may increase cancer risk.

Two diets in particular have been found to control blood sugar best – these are the Paleo and Ketogenic diets.


In the 1970s, the late Dr. Robert Atkins was able to show that the “no carbohydrate” (ketogenic) diet could reverse diabetes and obesity. Over the past decade, various versions of this diet have been advocated by many scientists and nutritionists with generally good results.

The ketogenic diet is strict, and evidence suggests it can fight both diabetes and cancer. This diet is therefore appropriate as part of the treatment regimen for both diabetes and cancer. The ketogenic diet forbids processed foods, diet soda, vegetable oil, high carbohydrate vegetables (potatoes, corn), sugary fruits, grains, and sugary foods.

The keto diet requires a reduction of carbs down to about 5% of a person’s daily intake. From there, 75% of remaining calories come from fat, and 20% from protein.

– The ketogenic diet can include: leafy green vegetables; cauliflower; broccoli; fish and seafood (limit due to mercury); meat (organic grass-fed meat is best); organ meat; eggs; nuts; seeds; berries; avocados; olives; coconut oil, and ghee.

– Fats endorsed by the ketogenic diet (from organic sources) include: avocados; olives; coconuts and coconut oil; butter; other nut oils (almond, walnut); raw dairy (unpasteurized) unless there’s a known allergy; raw nuts and seeds; eggs; grass-fed meats; fish oil but not fish.

– Fats not allowed on the ketogenic diet include:

  • Palm kernel oil (palmitoleic acid interferes with fatty acid metabolism);
  • Hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated fats; Margarine (high in hydrogenated fats);
  • Cottonseed oil (usually hydrogenated with pesticide residues);
  • Soybean oil (usually GMO, pro-inflammatory);
  • Fried foods, including donuts.

“The War Against Quackery is a carefully orchestrated, heavily endowed campaign sponsored by extremists holding positions of power in the orthodox hierarchy…..The multimillion-dollar campaign against quackery was never meant to root out incompetent doctors; it was, and is, designed specifically to destroy alternative medicine…The millions were raised and spent because orthodox medicine sees alternative, drugless medicine as a real threat to its economic power. And right they are…the majority of the drug houses will not survive.” ~ Dr Atkins, M.D. (quoted in “The Healing of Cancer”, p. 158, by Barry Lynes)


The Paleo diet is not as strict as the ketogenic diet and people find it generally easier to follow. It is most applicable for diabetes and cancer prevention. It eliminates grains, legumes, processed sugar, and most dairy products.

– The main foods permitted on the Paleo diet include: meat and fish; eggs; nuts and seeds; fruits; vegetables (except corn which is a grain); selected fats such as coconut oil, olive oil, avocado oil, tallow, ghee/butter; minimally processed sweeteners including raw honey, maple syrup, coconut sugar, raw stevia

– Foods that help to control blood sugar include avocados, arugula, fatty fish and seafood (sardines, mackerel, salmon – but there are concerns about high mercury content), garlic and onions, sour cherries, unpasteurized organic apple cider vinegar, leafy greens (spinach, kale, chard), broccoli sprouts, lentils, flax and chia seeds, chocolate containing 80% or higher cocoa, blueberries, blackberries, almonds, pistachios, walnuts, pine nuts, eggs, coffee.

– Eat Organic: A recent study examined the diets of 68,946 French adults over four to five years. It was found that those who ate the most organic food were 25% less likely to develop cancer. Specifically, they were 73% less likely to develop non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and 21% less likely to develop post-menopausal breast cancer.

Take Antioxidant Supplements

VITAMIN D: 40,0000 to 50,000 IU weekly – has been shown to have strong anti-inflammatory effects. It’s important to reduce inflammation as much as possible because inflammation is what causes cancer to spread. Vitamin D needs to be taken together with vitamin K2 (about 120 mcg per 1000 IU of vitamin D3) to prevent calcium deposits into arteries and organs. Vitamin K2 has a synergistic effect with vitamin D and has anti-cancer effects on its own. (Please note that there are vegan forms of vitamin D and K2 and many companies sell them in combination liquid and pill forms.)

VITAMIN C: 3,000 to 6,000 mg daily taken orally (and also used in much higher IV doses (50,000 – 75,000 mg per infusion) at least twice a week). High dose IV vitamin C (HDIVC) has been shown to increase the body’s production of peroxide which is toxic to cancer cells but leaves healthy cells intact. Most people have no significant side effects with the megadoses and many report higher energy with the infusions. In cases of disseminated cancer, the die-off reaction of cancer cells can cause headaches, nausea, and vomiting – all of which can be avoided by lowering the dose or just drinking more water during the procedure.

PANCREATIC DIGESTIVE ENZYMES – high variable doses have long been used successfully,especially by famous cancer specialists like Dr. Nicholas Gonzalez. These have proven effective particularly for those suffering from pancreatic cancer. One patient of mine with pancreatic cancer takes 30 or more enzyme tablets per day, and has been doing so for well over a decade. He continues to be in remission.

A patient generally starts off with a few tablets between meals and gradually increases the doses as tolerated. In the past, I had one patient who was keeping her pancreatic cancer under good control go off her enzymes due to cost considerations, only to have the cancer suddenly spread to her liver and elsewhere quickly. Unfortunately, she succumbed to her illness.

TRACE MINERAL SELENIUM – 600 mcg daily has a powerful anti-cancer effect, especially when used in combination with other antioxidants. Selenium is found in high amounts in Brazil nuts and supplements.

CURCUMIN – 3000 – 6000 mg daily is known to have strong anti-cancer effects. In fact, some cancer clinics even use it intravenously in higher doses to successfully treat cancer that has spread to the liver. Turmeric has only 3% of its content as curcumin but will still act very well as part of an anti-cancer diet.

KEYS TO CANCER PREVENTION Improving Liver Function to Decrease Our Toxic BurdenVITAMIN A – 10,000 IU daily is another very important antioxidant. Some authors have recommended it in much higher doses, but side effects on the liver are one limiting factor for high dose intake. Vitamin A is a common component of many multivitamin supplements, but some people just do not absorb enough of it from their diet because of unsuspected food allergies and insufficient secretion of pancreatic digestive enzymes. For most of these individuals, supplementing pancreatin (pancreatic enzymes) should help resolve the absorption issue.

PROBIOTICS – Friendly bacteria usually inhabit the gut and are a very well documented optimizer of the immune system. Taking probiotic supplements works to optimize gut bacteria. Seventy percent or more of our immune system is controlled by what happens in the gut, and friendly bacteria are the most important component of that immune system. These bacteria modulate the immune system by increasing the numbers of certain white blood cells (T lymphocytes). Probiotics also help improve digestion and protect the body from harmful pathogens such as candida albicans. Use a broad spectrum (many different species) probiotic supplement daily.

MULTIVITAMIN & MINERAL – One capsule daily of a multi vitamin/mineral supplement will help balance other antioxidants taken in very high doses. Zinc, B complex, vitamin E and numerous other nutrients will make up for those not available from poor diets or destroyed by prescription drugs.

BERBERINE – 500 mg 3 times daily – This herbal remedy works similarly to the drug Metformin and can help control insulin resistance and high blood sugars, especially in diabetics.

NALTREXONE – 2.5 – 4.5 mg. This is a drug referred to as LDN (low dose naltrexone) used in very low doses to stimulate the immune system in fighting cancer spread. In high doses it can be lifesaving in opiate overdoses. In low doses it has been limited to nonexistent side effects but is wasted as a therapy in people who use opiates for pain control. This drug is available only from compounding pharmacies on prescription.

As you probably can guess, I have just scratched the surface of what one can do to both prevent and treat cancer with Complementary Medicine. In Ralph W. Moss’ book “Cancer Therapies”, over 100 different natural therapies are discussed. I’m sure that the majority of these have at least some merit. Work with a natural health care practitioner for a personalized plan to prevent and treat cancer more comprehensibly.

“It is interesting how many establishment doctors start out, in many cases to disprove the efficacy of alternative therapies and become advocates of alternative therapies. I don’t hear many stories of the other way round.” – Laura Lee radio show, 1994, interviewing Dr. Ralph Moss on Chemotherapy, Laetrile, Coley’s Toxins, Burzynski, & Cancer Politics

(Warning: This article is not meant to replace the advice of your doctor. Please consult with your personal physician before making adjustments to your health care routine.)


Dr. Zoltan P. Rona is a graduate of McGill University Medical School (1977) and has a Masters Degree in Biochemistry and Clinical Nutrition from the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut (1984). He is the author of 11 books on natural medicine – three of which are Canadian bestsellers, The Joy of Health (1991), Return to the Joy of Health (1995), and Childhood Illness and The Allergy Connection (1997). He is co-author with Jeanne Marie Martin of The Complete Candida Yeast Guidebook (1996) and is medical editor of the Benjamin Franklin Award-winning Encyclopedia of Natural Healing (1998). He has had a private medical practice in Toronto for the past 42 years, has appeared on radio and TV as well as lectured extensively in Canada and the U.S. Visit his website for appointments, call (905) 764-8700; Office: 390 Steeles Ave. W. Unit 19, Thornhill, ON

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