Friday, 9 November 2018

Medical Cannabis legal but only in very restricted cases - Gill Smith

This week Gill Smith, stage 4 secondary breast cancer survivor and author of Because You Can, discusses the recent change in the law of medical cannabis in the UK…
On 1stNovember the law changed to allow the prescribing of medical cannabis. What will this mean in practice?

What is clear today is that the use of medical cannabis will be extremely limited.

From The Times

Doctors advised to refuse cannabis for MS sufferers

Thousands of people with multiple sclerosis will be denied cannabis medicines despite the drug being legally available for the first time today on the NHS.

Guidelines issued to doctors said that cannabis-based medicines were “not recommended” for chronic pain sufferers such as people with MS.

The MS Society condemned the guidance for being too “restrictive” and “ignoring clear evidence”. Genevieve Edwards, of the charity, said: “Today should mark a key milestone for people with MS. 

However, we’re really concerned that nothing will change in the short term for the one in ten people with MS who could get relief from pain and muscle spasms by using medicinal cannabis.

BBC

As of 1st November cannabis-based products can be prescribed, but only by specialist hospital doctors in a small number of cases, and not by GPs.

New NHS guidance for doctors in England says it should be prescribed only when there is clear published evidence of its benefit and other treatment options have been exhausted.

The treatments can be prescribed in cases of:

§  Children with rare, severe forms of epilepsy
§  Adults with vomiting or nausea caused by chemotherapy
§  Adults with muscle stiffness caused by multiple sclerosis

If a patient is not already in touch with a specialist doctor they can be referred to one by their GP if the doctor deems this appropriate.

I wonder who these specialist doctors are? How many? Will medical cannabis be approved for a wider range of conditions in future. 

Again, it comes down to what is accepted as evidence of benefit. Thousands of patients in the UK and other countries can provide testimony of how cannabis has helped them. But these are not clinical trials. For cancer the only allowable treatment is for vomiting or nausea caused by chemotherapy – but there is plenty of “evidence” to show that patients have benefitted in wider use. Similarly pain relief for other conditions. And what about Parkinson’s?

It seems that in the UK medical cannabis will be so tightly controlled that thousands of patients will be disappointed by not being able to access it.


Gill has published a book, Because You Can, which you can purchase here. Learn more here.

If you have any questions around medical cannabis, we are running a talk on 20th November in Nottingham. Find out more here.

Saturday, 3 November 2018

Can we starve our cancer? – Philip Booth


This week Philip Booth (My Unexpected Guide; learning from cancershares his thoughts on Jane McLelland’s new book, How to Starve Cancer

Oh my... this book so resonated with me and was a great read. I learnt lots more about cancer and it's helping me rethink my approach - but more of that in a moment. I first heard Jane McLelland speak at Trew Fields then again met her in Guildford. You can see my short film below of Jane outlining her approach.
At both these talks and in her book Jane shares her amazing story; how 16 years ago she was diagnosed with stage 4 (terminal) cervical cancer and used a combination of cheap, easy to use drugs with minimal side effects - many of these are off label drug combinations. Off label as they are not prescribed for cancer, for example Metformin is used for diabetes while Statins are for people with high cholesterol. Jane hasn’t had a cancer ‘episode’ for years. 

Jane writes that there are around 60 drugs with anti-cancer effects and that certain combinations of these are proving to be extremely powerful. Furthermore new studies are showing remissions with late stage cancers and raising the possibility of cures, especially when the drug combinations are used at earlier stages. We have also seen that their appears to be no genetic answer to cancer; instead altered metabolism, the increased uptake of glucose and/or glutamine has been found to be common to all cancers.

The idea of drug combinations makes sense. This approach is used with HIV and AIDS. Cancer cells are constantly adapting and in order to grow they need sources of energy, mainly glucose with access to proteins and fat. If you starve a cancer cell of its energy from glucose then it redirects to other sources of energy like glutamine and fat. So we need to see how we can block the ‘fuel pipelines’ with our own drug cocktails. 


Jane has produced an easy-to-follow ‘Metro Map’ that shows how this can be done using diet, supplements, off label drugs and exercise. This is the main part of her approach although there are other key elements that need tacking into consideration. I would strongly urge getting hold of Jane’s book. Here are a couple of key things I learnt which now seem common sense;

1. Cancers can be fuelled in different ways. For example brain cancer and colorectal cancer are particularly responsive to glucose while prostate cancer is fed by fat and protein. This fits with a story I heard about a guy with prostate cancer who followed a Ketogenic Diet (i.e. a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet that mimics the metabolic state of long-term fasting). He found his PSA climbing but when he looked more at reducing fats, that led to his PSA falling again. It would seem those with prostate cancer (and those with breast cancer) should perhaps avoid a Ketogenic Diet with it’s high fats(i)? Or perhaps take more care over the fats we eat? That of course doesn’t mean stopping a low glycemic diet so sadly Millionaires slices, Victoria sponges, white rice and more are not in my diet! Virtually all cancers respond to a reduced glucose intake. More on nutrition and diets in a future blog.

2. There is a distinction between supplements that prevent cancer and those that treat it. Some antioxidants are useful for prevention, like low oral doses of Vitamin C and E. However, there is a tipping point in cancer progression when, in Jane’s words, they ‘switch allegiance and support the enemy; they help promote and fuel cancer’s resistance to apoptosis (death). I’ve stopped low dose oral Vitamin C supplementation! I did have Intravenous Vitamin C (IVC) following my Transurethral Hyperthermia in Germany, which behaves in a completely different way to low dose - and would consider it in the future if part of a whole plan to tackle my cancer. IVC has been shown to be very effective at killing cancer stem cells, at high dose it is a pro-oxidant producing hydrogen peroxide around the tumour, so stem cells cannot survive, but as Jane warns, it is risky if not part of a combination strategy. Indeed I recall mixed information regarding IVC and prostate cancer - probably because IVC can push the cancer up the glutamine and fat pathways instead?
It is interesting to notice my first reactions to this approach. Drugs?! I wanted to take a more natural approach to healing and didn’t drugs have nasty side-effects? However the more I’ve read the more I consider this integrative approach to have value; drawing on the best of orthodox and complimentary medicine. This seems to me another example of the mind-body revolution that is underway.
Next steps for me include some more reading then finding out more about treatment (ii). See more of Jane when she spoke at Trew Fields in 2017 before her book came out: https://youtu.be/93F5zIe6PTU


You can purchase a copy of Jane’s book here.
Notes
(i) See "Dr. Gonzalez Dismantles the Ketogenic Diet For Cancer” including short film interviewing Dr Gonzalez:  
(ii) See Jane's great Facebook group at:  https://www.facebook.com/groups/off.label.drugsforcancer/