Tuesday, August 11, 2009

How cancer drugs cause hypertension: why aren't scientists researching more nutrition solutions?

ugust 10, 12:20 PMSacramento Nutrition ExaminerAnne Hart
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Scientists are learning more about how cancer drugs cause hypertension. According to an August 5, 2009 article in Healthday News, “Scientists Learn How Cancer Drugs Cause Hypertension,” A new study reveals why high blood pressure develops in up to one-third of cancer patients who take drugs to block the formation of blood vessels that feed tumors.”

Could this research point to more of a nutritional approach to controlling hypertension when the cause is not an adrenal tumor, Cushing’s disease, too much water retention, or too high angiotensin-renin levels from a kidney gene variant, extreme salt sensitivity, a combination of numerous drugs with interactions, or other known causes of the high blood pressure?

According to the article and study,"Anti-angiogenesis drugs like Avastin, Sutent or Nexavar inhibit an important substance called vascular endothelial growth factor [VEGF] that stimulates the creation of new vessels that support malignant growth," senior study author Dr. Thomas Coffman, a professor of medicine, cell biology and immunology at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C., said in a school news release. "Our studies in mice show that blocking VEGF causes hypertension because it disrupts an important biological system -- the nitric oxide pathway that regulates blood vessel health."

The study noted how the researchers used an antibody to block an important VEGF receptor called VEGFR2. After about a week, the mice that received a high dose of the antibody showed a "rapid and sustained" increase in blood pressure.

Dr. Coffman reported to Healthday News in the article that "The higher doses of anti-angiogenesis drugs that patients need to keep their cancers from growing translate into a significant increase in risk for hypertension and, by extension, for cardiovascular complications." You can read the study online in the journal, Hypertension. The study appeared online on August 3, 2009.

Interestingly, few articles are appearing suggesting a vegan diet and lifestyle changes for treating hypertension in cancer patients. Instead, numerous sources are saying it’s because cancer patients are living longer, side effects are popping up and have to be paid attention to. Could the cause have anything to do with the nutrition? Or is it the drugs?

What usually happens is that doctors control the hypertension in cancer patients with traditional blood pressure medications. So now the cancer patient takes not only the cancer drugs that may be causing the hypertension in the first place, but also has to take drugs to control high blood pressure.

Not many doctors are giving patients ADMA tests to see whether due to a gene variant, their bodies aren’t making enough argenine which in turn makes nitric oxide that relaxes the blood vessels and lowers the hypertension. Will argenine and citrulline help those patients? Maybe, but not if they've recently had a heart attack.

There are studies reporting sudden deaths after heart attack from patients taking argenine in a clinical trial. On the other hand, no one yet has researched whether the argenine did them in or was it other causes--just that they had been given the supplement after having recuperated from a recent heart attack. So the research remains open as to how other approaches work or not work.

With all these drugs for cancer patients plus more drugs to control the high blood pressure possibly caused by the cancer treatments and other drugs, why isn’t anyone proposing a nutrition-based solution to the high blood pressure once the cancer is in remission? For further information, see the publications at the U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has more about hypertension. Also see: US News.com resource sites such as: cancer, drugs.

From a nutrition point of view, only the naturopaths are taking into consideration that when a cancer patient is given drugs for cancer on top of drugs for high blood pressure, the pill combinations need to be studied as to how all those drugs interact with the person's body.

There are few press releases in mainstream media about nutritional approaches. And patients are reluctant to look at media that is pre-judged as illogical if it is different from the usual traditional medical approaches, even if nontraditional media only contains lists of medical articles published in validated, credible, and reliable medical journals. For the patient, the question is, who is funding the research on nutritional approaches to finding the root causes of various diseases? And how far can food as medicine go to prove it's not a placebo effect?

Interestingly, research also shows that certain blood types are resistant to specific cancers. For example, type O blood is resistant to pancreatic cancer, which is found mainly in A, B, and AB blood type groups. See the article, "ABO Bood Group and the Risk of Pancreatic Cancer," JNCI, Journal of the National Cancer Institute, published online, March 2009.

The question for researches is, if one doesn't have blood type O, is nutrition the best way to protect against pancreatic cancer in blood types not resistant to pancreatic cancer? And if so, what foods and/or supplements are best for blood type A, B, and AB to resist any type of cancer, if they are more at 'risk' based on blood type? The goal is to take as few drugs as possible and find the root causes of disease by treating the whole system with nutrition tailored to an individual's specific metabolic and genetic requirements.

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