Ask Patricia Peat

Originally published in  icon Volume 9 Issue 1 2010

Nurse Patricia Peat

Patricia Peat is a registered nurse. Following years of experience in oncology, combined with research into natural approaches to cancer she now runs Cancer Options.

Cancer Options is a specialised team of practitioners who provide individual consultancy and coaching into treatment and making decisions for all approaches to cancer.

Details of their services are available at or by calling 0845 009 2041.

Q I have ovarian cancer, I have had chemotherapy in the past and it has now recurred again. My doctor wants to give me cisplatin chemotherapy, but I am very concerned about the side effects as I have heard it can be unpleasant. Is there anything I can do to lessen these?
A Cisplatin is certainly a chemotherapy which is very challenging for people. The side effects worsen as the dosage increases. The most severe effects are nausea, the hospital anti-emetics are a great help. The use of ginger tea and rice can help, and acupuncture is very effective. To prevent kidney damage, recent lab results on a natural substance called CV 247 have shown that in addition to the anti-oxidant effect, CV247 was seen to protect the kidneys against cisplatin damage. Studies will be ongoing on this, but see how interested your oncologist may be as this is a dose limiting side effect and lowering the chance of kidney damage may enable you to have a more successful treatment. Call Dr Hembry on  0117 317 1460 for more information. 

For neutropenia low white cells, consider beta-glucans, maitake mushroom supplement or life mel honey. To prevent neuropathy (they have a very good regime in Germany for this) a combination of alpha lipoic acid, acetyl-L-carnitine and vitamin B12 is reported as being very effective at preventing it. With the main side effects alleviated to some degree, you might find it more tolerable. I suggest seeking the advice of an integrative practitioner and your doctors to get dosage and checking your history and compatibility with your full regime. As ovarian cancer tends to become resistant to treatments you might also consider the use of hyperthermia to lower resistance to the drug.

Q I have breast cancer; I have had chemotherapy and radiotherapy after surgery. Somebody has recommended I should take vitamin D3 at 5000ius. I mentioned this to my consultant and he said this was far too high a dose to take, but did not seem to know what would be the right dose and was unsure if there was benefit to taking vitamin D3. I was given the impression that it was well proven; could you clarify this for me?
A Whilst research will go on for many years, such being the nature of medicine, I think we have definitely reached a point where there is little doubt that vitamin D3 plays a role in both preventing and surviving breast cancer, and possibly lots of other cancers too. A study conducted by Cedric Garland and other prominent vitamin D researchers determined that women with vitamin D levels above 52 ng/ml have half the risk of developing breast cancer as those with 13 ng/ml. Studies have shown that women who supplement vitamin D3 after diagnosis of breast cancer survive longer. The ways in which it works include arresting cell growth, induction of apoptosis which indicates the vitamin D pathway participates in negative growth regulation.  There are studies and some practices being undertaken using vitamin D 3 at higher doses than 5000ius, I personally know someone who cleared bone metastases with high dosages. The recommended dosage may eventually end up higher than 5000ius but for the moment that is the dosage advised by research. A recent report tells us it is beginning to be prescribed as part of treatment by many doctors in America. As with many natural compounds you might consider having your levels measures to judge how much supplementation you need personally, and for any long-term usage of vitamin D3 you should take advice on using a calcium and magnesium supplement with it to prevent breakdown of calcium from the bones.

Q We keep hearing that there needs to be more research carried out on CAM therapies, is this happening or likely to happen in the near future?
AThe situation at the moment is that while there is an increasing movement towards more studies providing an evidence base for complementary therapies, as you might expect it is nowhere near fast enough nor with anything like the investment that is really needed. The EU announced recently that it is putting 1.5 million euros into research over the next three years but that is still a pittance compared to the amount that goes on orthodox research. Cancer Research spends just 1% of its budget on CAM and, even in Germany where integrative therapy programmes are more advanced than here, no government funding has been provided since 1996. This has meant most work has had to be financed by private institutions, inevitably the money comes from people accessing CAM privately, which often leads to higher costs for the people who pursue the therapies.
Interestingly America seems to be taking a greater interest in research of natural compounds than it has in the past. I think they may have just seen the size of their drug bill and hopefully we may benefit from the greater investment over there! One step is getting the research done, the next is actually getting the good results to be reflected in clinical practice, used in treatment programmes, and that is another issue altogether. Cancer Watch in every edition of icon, and in Chris Woollams’ monthly e newsletter often mentions research studies and Clinical Trials performed around the world. In the last year he has covered research on yoga, meditation, vitamin D, acupuncture, beneficial bacteria, resveratrol, omega 3 and many more CAM’s.

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