"" Ralph Moss—Cancer Consultant: 2009

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Is soy safe?

One of the big questions that agitates health-oriented people is whether or not to consume soy and soy products. There are vociferous campaigns both for and against soy. (Yes, there is an anti-soy lobby, which also happens to favor the consumption of red meat.) But the data now seems to be tipping in favor of soy. Here is a recent excerpt from the newsletter of Michael Janson, MD, a reliable physician-journalist and former president of the American College for the Advancement of Medicine (ACAM).

"Consuming soy foods (such as tofu, tempeh, and soy milk, not the highly processed texturized soy protein) has many advantages for health, as is evident from the low rates of a variety of diseases among populations who do consume them. Several recent studies confirm some of these benefits," Dr. Janson writes.

His monthly newsletter is free and always carries worthwhile information, especially on diet and health. It is available at www.drjanson.com

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Times Discovers Chrono

The New York Times has discovered chronobiology, including chronomodulated chemotherapy. The excellent science writer, Olivia Judson, PhD, in the course of a column on circadian rhythms, mentioned the influence that time of day has on the effectiveness of anticancer drugs. She also noted in passing that you can decrease your risk of breast and other cancers by sleeping in a really dark environment at night:

"Several of the drugs used in chemotherapy," she wrote, "also have a 'best' time of day: give the drug at the right moment, and you can take a smaller dosage, get a greater benefit and have a lower risk of unpleasant side effects. Sounds good. But don’t forget: regular good sleep in a nice dark room can inhibit tumors, and may thus help you avoid chemo in the first place."

Bravo! To my knowledge, this is the first mention of "chronomodulated chemo" in the Times and maybe is a harbinger of a more inquisitive attitude towards innovative treatments. Sadly, she fails to mention that Keith Block, MD, of the Block Center in Evaston, IL, has been practicing "chronomodulated chemotherapy" for years. Like most exciting new developments in cancer treatment, this approach has been thoroughly neglected by the leaders of the war on cancer.

In 2009, however, there was finally a conference at the New York Academy of Sciences on the topic of circadian rhythm disruption and cancer. Block, in his role as editor-in-chief of Integrative Cancer Therapies, published the proceedings of that conference in December 2009 edition of that excellent journal. Judson seems unaware of this conference or this publication.

"Chrono" is just one of the promising ways that chemotherapy could be made more effective and humane. There are others, which the Times has yet to discover.

I will repeat here the suggestions I made after I came back from the NYAS conference in June:

1. Avoid shift work, if you possibly can. Shift workers have more cancer than those who work during daylight hours. It's unnatural for the body to be up and about in the middle of the night.

2. Sleep in as dark a room as you can manage. I installed blackout shades in my bedroom and immediately experienced better sleep. I also shut all doors that would let in outside light.  (It's dismaying how lit up the night is in most urban or suburban areas!) If necessary, use an opaque eye mask to block out light during the night.

3. Avoid blue or green nightlights, clock radios, etc. If you must have these devices, use red lights (since red light does not destroy your melatonin, which forms during the night).

4. If at all possible, do not expose yourself to light sources (by reading, watching TV, etc.) between the key hours of 2 am and 5 am. This is when you form most of your melatonin.

As soon as I greatly reduced light exposure during sleep I experienced several health benefits: I no longer have to get up often during the night and I awake more refreshed. I also have improved my general health and believe I have reduced my risk of cancer. That's a lot of bang for the buck, especially for those who have in the past had difficulty sleeping. It's worth trying before resorting to either natural sleep aids (such as melatonin supplements) or prescription drugs like Ambien (zolpidem), which can have serious side effects.

Source: http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/12/22/enter-the-chronotherapists/

Monday, December 14, 2009

Dieter Hager Passes Away

I have been informed that E. Dieter Hager, MD, PhD, founder and medical director of the Biomed Klinik, Bad Bergzabern, Germany passed away yesterday. Dieter had been sick for a long time and so I guess I knew that this was inevitable. I still find it hard to comprehend and accept that he is gone! He was among my best friends in Germany and I will miss him very much. My condolences to his family and to the entire staff of Biomed. I will have more to say about his life and achievements in my newsletter (www.cancerdecisions.com)

Friday, December 11, 2009

Tumor killing bacteria

It has been known for 150 years that bacteria sometimes attack and destroy tumors. But how can one make that happen in a deliberate fashion, without also endangering the life of the patient? Wilhelm Busch of Bonn, Germany, tried to use Streptococcus pyogenes in some patients in the 1860s, but it proved far too dangerous. The same approach was rediscovered in the 1890s by William B. Coley, MD, of New York City, one of the great early heroes of oncology. Coley used killed bacteria and also added Serratia marcescens as a booster. The results were sometimes good and occasionally spectacular. But other doctors had difficulty reproducing these effects, mainly because the preparations made by Parke-Davis were almost entirely without activity. Their product was "Coley's toxins" in name only, but this did a lot of damage to Coley's reputation. Eventually his method was banned by the Food and Drug Administration and put on the American Cancer Society's blacklist of "unproven methods."

But some intrepid researchers never forgot Coley's successes. Thanks mainly to Coley's daughter, Helen Coley Nauts and Lloyd Old, MD, the idea of a bacterial treatment for cancer never died out completely. I recently wrote a detailed report on this topic, which you may want to see. It is available for sale at my cancerdecisions.com Web site:


Now a San Diego company called Anticancer, Inc. has invented a novel  way of delivering destructive bacteria to mice. This work has begun to generate a lot of excitement (including a laudatory 2009 article in the New York Times). So far it has only been performed in mice, but human clinical trials are promised as well.

To see a short narrated slide show on the treatment go to the company's Web site, www.anticancer.com and search for the video presentation called "Tumor Killing Bacteria."

This is certainly a very worthwhile idea in its own right, but it is also a powerful confirmation of the original ideas of Coley, which have been scorned and neglected for the better part of a century. I guess you can't keep a good idea down forever.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Oncologists who need sensitivity training!

I speak to cancer patients almost every day. One of the things that we speak about is their treatment...and I don't only mean their medical treatment but the human treatment they receive at the hands of their oncologists. Now, don't get me wrong. I think there are some wonderful oncologists out there. I have some of them on my advisory board. So I am not talking about all oncologists here, or even a majority of them, but a minority who treat their patients with insensitivity. They are a shame to their profession.

I am thinking in particular about a letter I received the other day from a reader of my weekly cancerdecisions.com newsletter. He wrote about the request that he and his sister made to her oncologist for information about a procedure called chemosensitivity testing. Here is what he wrote:

"Through one of your messages, I came across the idea of chemosensitivity testing. I did more research to understand what exactly it was all about. After that, I thought that it could be great for my sister's cancer. She has cervical. This morning during our appointment with her oncologist, we brought this possibility to the attention to her doctor. We were BLASTED. All the way up and down as if we were committing a crime of cosmic proportions. The doctor was so mad...you can not imagine the scene. Could you be so kind, to consider writing in depth about this? Please, we are alone trying to treat my sister with something better and every time we try something new we are blasted like this. And I know we are not alone. If you elaborate more, many other people can take advantage of our sad experience, and maybe you can give us more elements to fight back. Thanks a million."

Now, rest assured: I do intend to write a special report on the topic of chemosensitivity testing. But the reader could have substituted any number of other topics for this one and the story would have been the same. The doctor in question probably has a chip on his shoulder against complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). He is also probably used to patients being passive and submissive — the way they used to be when he was training to be a doctor. Today, patients have become better informed and that puts demands on him to learn more and to relate to patients in a different way — more as equals than as subservient beings.

Being a cancer doctor is admittedly a hard job. There are so many drugs and drug combinations to learn about and to administer safely and effectively. Add to that having to learn about the many and varied CAM treatments, and it can be daunting. But, that said, there is simply no excuse for this type of arrogance. Blustering  is no substitute for knowledge and compassion. So in addition to "sensitivity testing" for tumors we also need "sensitivity training" for oncologists who need to learn to treat their patients with understanding and respect.