Inhibiting Cancer Growth by Targeting Copper
Angiogenesis is a term used to describe the process of growing new blood vessels. Our bodies have the ability to initiate this process when a tissues need for life-sustaining materials isnt being met. In heart disease, the blood vessels which supply the heart muscle with the nutrients and oxygen necessary for the heart to do its job become clogged due to the accumulation of fatty material and calcium. The heart tissue which is on the down stream side of this blockage receives a reduced amount of blood due to the blockage acting much like a dam on a river. This down stream tissue becomes physiologically stressed because it doesnt have what it needs to work optimally. This tissue then sends out a distress signal into the body asking for an increased blood flow. Nearby blood vessels respond by sprouting a new blood vessel bud that grows toward the origin of the distress signal. Eventually, the new blood vessel reaches its destination at the source of the SOS signal and the new collateral circulatory route can begin supplying blood to the once-deprived tissue.
This is an amazing example of the bodys ability and desire to self-heal. However, when abnormal tissue is growing in the body, and that abnormal tissue has a high metabolic demand, such as in cancer, the angiogenesis process can promote and accelerate tumor and cancer growth. As a tumor tries to grow, as all cancers do, its metabolic needs increase. Basically, it needs more metabolic fuel to support its growth, and that fuel is delivered to a tumor by the blood vessels. So, a tumor whose metabolic demands arent being met can send out an SOS signal just like that sent out by the deprived heart tissue. The body doesnt know its growing a new blood vessel to a tumor- it just recognizes tissue in distress and works to correct the problem.
Inhibiting Cancer Growth by Targeting Copper
When the new blood vessels arrive at the tumor they, they plug in and begin delivering the necessary materials for accelerated growth. Conventional oncology has developed therapies designed to block the body from responding to the SOS signal. These medications are known as Avastin (Bevacizumab), Everolimus (Afinitor), and Sunitinib (Sutent), etc. These drugs may be a step in the right direction, as they are not truly chemotherapy because they are not cyto-toxic (aka cell-toxic), rather they block a specific reaction, like the growth of new blood vessels. However, these drugs do have some potentially serious side effects, and are not routinely used in all cancer. Further, like most cancer medicines used today the results obtained by the use of these drugs have been insufficient to label them as curative.
A newer approach to inhibiting angiogenesis that is quite exciting involves removing the materials necessary for building blood vessels. Building a new blood vessel requires specific materials, and if those materials are not present at the build site then the process of angiogenesis can be halted. It turns out that one of the more important materials needed for new blood vessel growth is the mineral copper (Cu). There is a medication called tetrathiomolybdate (TM) that works to remove copper from the body and is a copper chelator. TM is a safe medication when used correctly and has little potential for adverse effect when used under the guidance of an experienced physician.
Copper chelation using tetrathiomolybdate has been studied for its effectiveness in treating a variety of cancers, such as breast, head and neck (squamous cell carcinoma, kidney cancer, and others (see literature references below). In many of these studies it was found that the TM provided great benefit to those who took it. It has even been shown to potentiate the action of several commonly used chemotherapy drugs.
Another area where TM can be particularly beneficial is in preventing a recurrence of cancer. After a person has been successfully treated there are few available options, beyond adopting a health promoting lifestyle, to help prevent a cancer recurrence. TM has demonstrated this ability in several medical studies. One study in particular stands out. This study was performed on a group of women with a type of cancer that has a particularly high recurrence rate, called triple negative breast cancer. This cancer typically responds well to conventional oncology treatments initially, but almost invariably returns and when it does the response rate to therapy is low. This study found that these women had a greatly reduced recurrence rate with next to no adverse medication reactions (again, citation below).
In other studies it has been found that increased or increasing copper levels can be a negative prognostic indicator for either developing a cancer, or predicting a recurrence. With this information in hand, it seems that routinely monitoring blood copper levels, done via a test called ceruloplasmin, in people after successful cancer therapy would be a smart idea. Further, targeting copper elimination could be a very beneficial integrative therapy to help fight cancer and prevent recurrences.
Copper levels may also be affected by other mineral levels in the body. The mineral zinc is antagonistic to copper. This means that the higher a persons zinc level, the lower their copper level, and vice versa. Zinc deficiency is surprisingly common, with the World Health Organization reporting that upwards of 31% of the global population being deficient. Estimates for zinc deficiency are roughly 13-15% in the US. However, it must be noted that excessive intakes of zinc have the ability to be toxic, and using zinc for specific purposes should always be done under the supervision of an experienced physician.
Interestingly, there is another way in which many people are potentially bing exposed to higher than normal levels of copper. It seems that organic farming operations sometimes use copper on their crops as a way to retard mold and fungal growth. This copper may very well help prevent crop damage, but it is also very likely that this copper is absorbed into the plants themselves and then works its way up the food chain to consumers like you and I.
Using a therapy like tetrathiomolybdate in conjunction with other cancer treatment modalities is an example of a truly integrative cancer treatment approach. And, while this is only a single example, it illustrates the high quality research based integrative medicine that Longevity Medical is known for. For more information on tetrathiomolybdate choose the link below or call Longevity Medical to schedule an appointment with Dr. Psenka.