Treatment for cancer usually involves radiation and chemotherapy treatment. In fact, chemotherapy and radiation are so common that they are usually used first when it comes to the treatment of certain kinds of cancer.
If you’ve received these kinds of treatments, you probably know they can be unpleasant and cause adverse side effects. If you haven’t received these treatments, you’ve probably heard how these treatments can damage healthy parts of your body.
That’s why alternative cancer treatments are constantly being discovered and studied. This is especially necessary for breast cancer treatment. Breast cancer is the second leading cause of death among women, which means multiple options are needed to target cancer effectively and in a way that helps the recipient of treatment heal, including by improving their quality of life and reducing pain. As a result, nearly 70% of breast cancer patients seek out alternative or complementary treatment options.
Below are a few alternatives/complements to standard treatment for breast cancer. These alternative treatments can be grouped into one of two categories: diet/supplement treatment or mental/mindfulness practices.
Dietary or herbal supplements
Various dietary and herbal supplements have been explored for the treatment of breast cancer. Here are a few of the most common ones:
Diet has been viewed as a crucial way to help prevent certain types of cancer. The idea that what we eat impacts balance in our bodies is the idea behind why diet can help with cancer treatment. What we eat can help support our body’s immune system for example.
When it comes to breast cancer, research suggests that you should avoid eating the following foods:
- Foods high in fat or salt content
- Smoked or pickled foods
Antioxidants play a crucial role in helping maintain a healthy body and immune system by helping regulate free radicals. When regulated, free radicals are an important part of the immune system. However, low levels of antioxidants, which often happen as we age, allow free radicals to go unchecked. When this happens, they can cause damage to cells which can lead to cancer.
That’s why various antioxidants have been studied as a possible way to prevent, slow the progression of, or possibly even treat cancer. Here are some common antioxidants used to treat breast cancer:
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E
- Flavonoids (examples)
- Beta-carotenes (examples)
Many people use antioxidant supplements because they may be able to help protect healthy cells from treatments like chemotherapy. However, more research is needed to confirm this. Research more conclusively shows that supplementing with certain kinds of antioxidants over a long period of time can actually help prevent the onset of breast cancer.
Cannabinoids, which are compounds found in marijuana plants, have been studied for their use as complementary cancer treatment options. Compounds like THC and CBD, for example, have been shown to help with the side effects of conventional breast cancer treatment options.
Some research even suggests that cannabinoids can even help slow breast cancer progression and the spread of breast cancer cells throughout the body.
The goal of many mindfulness therapies is to work as a complement to existing standard cancer treatments. Specifically, these therapies can help alleviate the stress and fatigue associated with standard cancer treatments. Some options include massage or acupuncture therapy.
Massage, in particular, can be especially beneficial. In addition to research showing massage therapy’s pain benefits, it may have some other benefits on the immune system. Research shows that massage can actually improve the functioning of the immune system in people with breast cancer.
Other options for helping boost positive emotions include yoga, meditation, and certain kinds of art therapy.
With any type of cancer treatment, it’s important to make sure you fully understand the available treatment options and choose options that work for you. This should include talking to your doctor before starting any cancer treatment. They can help you decide which treatment options are right for you.