Mitchell Gaynor, founder and president of Gaynor Integrative Oncology and author, explains what integrative oncology is and how cancer is treated.
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Understanding Integrative Oncology Integrative Oncology is that aspect of oncology that is concerned with the totality of factors that are important both in the prevention and the treatment of cancer and those include conventional forms of therapy. Everything from chemotherapy to radiation therapy to bone marrow transplants, to monoclonal antibodies, to targeted therapies, all those things. It’s also very concerned with screening and early detection and it’s also concerned with all the nutritional factors that we know are important, not only for preventing cancer and associated with risk reduction of cancer but also in the treatment of cancer and it’s very important for people to be concerned about their immune systems and their detoxification systems. So both those are part of integrative oncology as well and there are two scientific branches that are very important now to integrative oncology. One is called nutritional genomics, nutritional genomics is the interaction of nutrients with the genes that can turn on or off cancer. With the genes that are responsible for the production of our detoxifying enzymes, those are our first line of defense against many of the environmental toxins we’re all exposed to in the air, in our food, in our water, those type of things and also there’s a field called Toxico-genomics, Toxico-genomics is how all the different toxins in the environment from dioxin to DDT, to DDE, to PCBs, many of the things that are held in our body for decades and fatty tissue, many of these affect our DNA as well and so they’re almost competing scientific realms where nutritional genomics is looking at what can be done to benefit our health and the Toxico-genomics looking at all the things that we know compromise our health. And so all these are very important, the other big part of integrative oncology is stress reduction because we know there are two really new fields that are incorporated into integrative oncology, one is called Psychoneuroimmunology, the other is called neurocardiology, Psychoneuroimmunology is the study of how stress, depression, pessimism, all those negative emotions literally depress every aspect of our immune system. There is a fascinating study out of Ohio State several years ago, published in the journal of the National Cancer Institute and what that study did was look at women who are recovering from breast cancer surgery. They found that women with the most depression and stress had the most profound suppression of the very part of their immune systems that we know is very responsible for preventing a recurrence of the cancer. So we know equally that positive emotions, optimism, peacefulness, those type of emotions up regulate every aspect of the immune system. So it is very important both for prevention and even if you have the disease, to look at how stress affects you, how old traumas and patterns affect you. So that’s a very, very important part of neurocardiology.
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