Is Chemo and Radiation Therapy Safe?

One of the unfortunate side effects of standard cancer treatment is the occurrence of secondary cancers and premature death due to side effects.  Below are a small handful of examples that constitute the multitude of ongoing occurrences.  It has also been my misfortune to personally observe and work with dozens of cancer patients who died prematurely, some due to secondary cancers, others due to the side effects of conventional treatment, or a combination of both.

Secondary Cancers Caused by Chemo and Radiation

One study investigated the occurrence of a secondary cancer five years after treatment with radiation in a large population of men with prostate cancer.  The study found that, compared to men who received no radiation, those who received external beam radiation as their only form of treatment were at a significantly higher risk of developing secondary cancers of the bladder and rectum.  They were also at risk of developing secondary cancers in other areas not directly related to the initial target, including the brain, cecum, lung, skin, stomach, and transverse colon.

Patients who survive Hodgkin’s disease as children are at a greater risk for developing solid tumors in adulthood, especially breast cancer.  “Bhatia et al., representing the Late Effects Study Group, reported that second cancers developed 18 times more often in patients who received treatment for Hodgkin’s disease before the age of 16 years than would be expected in the general population…”  Secondary cancers are also a well known complication in patients who have been treated for Hodgkin’s disease as adults, with acute myelogenous leukemia causing the most deaths.  Radiation was implicated as the primary cause of solid tumors, whereas leukemia was a result of chemo and radiation combined.  Currently, secondary malignant cancers are considered the leading cause of death in long-term survivors of Hogkin’s disease.

Another detrimental effect of chemotherapy is its destructive effect on the immune system. Considered a poison, chemo is unable to selectively search out only cancerous cells and, therefore, has a damaging effect on all cells.  “Thus chemotherapy poisons many normal tissues as well – especially the rapidly dividing cells of the bone marrow, intestinal wall, and the hair follicles.”1 This is why it is  given in tiny doses over a long period of time.  If it were given all in one shot, it would kill the patient almost immediately.

An additional disadvantage of chemo is that it decreases the possibility of benefiting from other natural, non-toxic, or immunological treatments.  Therefore, a patient using a complimentary therapy concurrently with chemo likely will not benefit from this therapy because they contradict each other. Complementary therapies are designed to support the immune system so the body can heal itself, while chemotherapy drugs destroy both healthy and cancerous cells, thus damaging the immune system.

Even the free encyclopedia Wikipedia notes its damaging effects in the following statement: “Exposure to radiation or chemotherapy will kill many of the rapidly dividing cells of the bone marrow and will therefore result in a depressed immune system.”  The problem here is that the immune system, particularly the bone marrow, is responsible for producing new blood cells (red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets) whose function is to protect the body from everything from the common cold to major diseases and infections.  Consequently, this results in the development of anemia.  With the immune system unable to do its job, many cancer patients often succumb to an early death due to the side effects of their treatment.  This certainly warrants pursuing natural, holistic treatments for cancer.

 

References: (1) Moss, R (1996). The Cancer Industry. (p 73). New York:Equinox Press.  (2) Moon, K., Stukenborg, G.J.., Keim, J., & Theodorescu, D. (2006). Cancer Incidence After Localized Therapy for Prostate Cancer. Cancer, 107(5): 991-998. (3) Donaldson, S.S. & Hancock, S.L. (1996). “Second Cancers after Hodgkin’s Disease in Childhood.” The New England Journal of Medicine, 334(12): 792-794. (4) Bhatia, S., Robison, L.L., Oberlin, O., Greenberg, M., Bunin, G., Fossati-Bellani, F., & Meadows, A.T. (1996). “Breast Cancer and Other Second Neoplasms After Childhood Hodgkin’s Disease.” The New England Journal of Medicine, 334(12): 745-751. (5) Travis, L.B., Hill, D.A., Dores, G.M., Gospodarowicz, M., Van Leeuwen, F., Holowaty, E., Glimelius, B., Andersson, M., Wiklund, T., Lynch, C.F., Van’t Veer, M.B., Glimelius, I., Storm, H., Pukkala, E., Stovall, M., Curtis, R., Boice, J.D., & Gilbert, E. (2003). “Breast Cancer Following Radiotherapy and Chemotherapy Among Young Women With Hodgin’s Disease.” The Journal of the American Medical Association, 290(4): 465-475. (6) Moss, R. (1995). Questioning Chemotherapy. (p 164). New York:Equinox Press.