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Chemotherapy Drugs

Little known side effect YOU need to know about

In January, 2005 it was reported that cancer has surpassed heart disease - for the first time - as the top killer of Americans younger than 85. In 2002, the most recent year for which information is available, 476,009 Americans younger than 85 died of cancer, compared with 450,637 who died of heart disease. An estimated 1,372,910 new cancer cases and 570,260 cancer deaths are expected this year.

Paclitaxel, a preferred treatment for lung and breast cancers, has a cancer-promoting risk as well.

Lung cancer remains the biggest cancer killer, projected to claim 163,510 lives this year. Paclitaxel will be used in the attempt to save the lives of many of these patients.

However, one little-known effect of Paclitaxel is that in a subset of these patients there will be up to a fivefold increase in the production of Interleukin - 8 (IL-8) - a cellular communication molecule that initiates the growth of new blood vessels to feed the growing cancer.

In other words, if you fall into this subset of patients, treatment using Paclitaxel alone may not be effective at preventing recurrence.

NF-kB blockade enhances cancer killing ability of Paclitaxel

IL-8 is under the control of an inflammatory regulating protein called nuclear factor-kappa Beta (NF-kB). When the activation of NF-kB is blocked, IL-8 dries up, much like a faucet that has been turned off.

Thus, blocking NF-kB activation enhances the cancer killing ability of Paclitaxel. These results were seen with many types of cancer cells, including lung and esophageal cancer cells.

Paclitaxel is NOT the Only Drug that Promotes Excessive NF-kB

Paclitaxel is but one of a group of drugs that has this unwanted side-effect of activating NF-kB. Other drugs in this group include Doxorubicin, 5-Fluorouracil, Cisplatin, VP-16 (Etoposide), ARA-C, and Methotrexate.

In addition, research demonstrates that excessive NF-kB activity contributes to cancer development in the following types of cancers: non-small cell lung cancer, pancreatic, primary liver, head and neck cancer, prostate, breast, esophageal, stomach, colon, Hodgkin's disease, and multiple myeloma.

Supportive treatment that improves chemotherapy effectiveness.

Paclitaxel, along with the other NF-kB activating chemotherapeutic drugs, is approved for the treatment of a wide range of cancers. It appears likely that they will continue to be used for the foreseeable future.

If you are on (or considering using) Paclitaxel or one of the other drugs in this group to treat cancer, there is a supportive treatment that you need to know about that improves the effectiveness of these drugs and reduces your risk of having a cancer recurrence.

We have a Multi-Dimensional Approach to Reducing Inflammation that Complements and Enhances the Impact of these Drugs.

At the Center for Learning about Healing in Ann Arbor, MI where I practice integrative medicine and behavioral oncology, I focus on multi-dimensional ways to empower patients to evaluate and change patterns of eating, behaving, thinking, and coping that are known to contribute to inflammatory reactions in the body. These methods complement the cancer killing effects of Paclitaxel, Doxorubicin, 5-FU, and other such drugs.

Genomic Testing Can Clarify Your Specific Inflammatory Molecular Mechanisms that Sustain Your Cancer

Inflammation is present before, and during the life of a cancer. In cancer, inflammation is a pathological process characterized by injury or destruction of tissues caused by a variety of cellular and chemical reactions.

It is usually manifested by typical signs of pain, heat, redness, swelling, and loss of function. However, inflammation is also essential for tissue repair and tissue rebuilding.

Genomic testing (easily performed with saliva or blood samples) allows us to create a personalized map of your inflammatory tendencies based on your genomic predispositions.

This method is revolutionary because it allows you to regulate your genomic capabilities to your advantage, which then allows you to reduce the expression of your inflammation-related genes.

What Cancer Patients Need to DO is Reduce the Expression of Inflammation-Related Genes

Once you know your specific genomic blueprint for excessive inflammation, we work together to develop the tools you need to re-set the expression of your inflammation blueprint.

These tools must be unique to you, precisely because your genomic expression capabilities are unique to you. These tools include anti-inflammatory diets supported by oral and intravenous nutrients that block and down-regulate NF-kB. Remember, it is this protein that is responsible for the abnormal rise in IL-8 during Paclitaxel administration.

By measuring markers of cellular inflammation before, during, and after chemotherapy treatment, and using your unique tools, we compile a personalized treatment record of inflammatory responses (normal and abnormal) that serves as a benchmark for your risk of cancer recurrence after chemotherapy treatment.

With these personalized guidelines, you will have insider knowledge about choices of foods, behaviors, and interpersonal relationships that will be conducive to keeping your inflammation-related genes quiet.

Patients with high inflammatory markers during chemotherapy are at higher risk for recurrence, and thus need to more closely monitor and modulate their NF-kB expression after the chemotherapy ends.

What is important to understand is that:

  • There is an optimal amount of expression of NF-kB consistent with health;
  • Excessive expression contributes to diseases like cancer recurrence, especially when NF-kB is turned on continuously; and
  • You will have the power and the tools needed to regulate NF-kB's expression.

Become the Captain of Your Healing Team! As your physician-coach, I recommend that you become the captain of your healing team, and let me and my team partner with you to clarify the specific molecular mechanisms driving your specific cancer.

We coach you to learn the skills and to master the tools needed to reduce the collective contribution of foods, emotions, and behaviors to the excessive expression of inflammation-related genes.

By working together, you learn to modulate your inflammation blueprint by modulating the expressive capacity of NF-kB. Modulating your expression of NF-kB is the inner game of self-discovery, consciousness expansion, forgiveness, and cell (self) renewal that is what allows healing to occur.

To view diagrams describing NF-kB in health and in disease, visit our website at

Learn More about How You Can Improve Your Chances of Not Having a Cancer Recurrence. You or a loved one can learn more about how you can improve the effectiveness of your cancer treatments and improve your chances of not having a recurrence. at

James Arond-Thomas, MD, is Director of The Center for Learning about Healing in Ann Arbor and West Bloomfield, MI. Dr. Arond-Thomas partners with people with cancers and other serious illnesses to construct a "whole person" roadmap leading to health and well-being. To find out more about how you can benefit from Dr. James' ground-breaking research and clinical experience, send an email to [email protected], or call us at (734) 995.4999.


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