One of the standard treatments for cancer is radiation treatment. It is often a follow up to surgery to remove cancerous tumors. This is considered a necessary next step to ensure that cancer does not reoccur.
What most people do not know is that the side effects of this treatment may be lethal in themselves.
Radiation necrosis is one of these side effects. The radiation treatment may cause the death of brain cells. Once a patient has radiation necrosis, the chances of death are high. However, these deaths are not called cancer deaths – even though the treatment for the cancer is what has killed the patient.
Radiation alone is often used to treat brain tumors in particular, where surgery may not be an option. However, it is important to note that the rate of cure is quite low, and that even when the tumors have been successfully treated, a large number of patients will die from radiation necrosis.
This is not the only problematic side effect of radiation treatment. Radiation is linked to an increase in stroke risk. For patients with either head or neck cancers that have been treated by radiation, the risk of stroke increased five times! This risk appears to remain for as much as 15 years after the treatment.
Note that patients who later die of stroke will be counted as a stroke death, and not a death due to cancer nor a death due to radiation treatment.
Of great concern to women is that radiation can cause damage to breast tissues – and yet radiation is often either a primary treatment or a follow-up treatment to breast cancer surgery. Part of the problem with radiation therapy is due to the inflammation caused in healthy cells. Radiation damages the DNA in cells; it also can generate a kind of inflammation that can spread to surrounding cells.
Radiation therapy can lead to long term health effects, including constant pain, poor recovery and damage resulting from the cancer treatment itself. When deciding to submit to radiation therapy, it is important to review options to support the body and minimize radiation’s negative aspects.
- Know your type of tumor. Some kinds of cancer are better treated by radiation than others.
- Avoid anemia. Your radiation treatment may be much more effective if your levels of hemoglobin are tracked and your iron levels optimized.
- Keep well oxygenated! Low oxygen levels to tumors – in combination with anemia – are actually associated with spread of cancer. Note that Silymarin (the effective agent in milk thistle extract) is shown to impede the growth of blood vessels to tumors – which is the tumor’s response to low oxygen. Other natural compounds that help starve cancer while feeding the patient include green tea extract, fish oil, selenium, and curcumin extract.