Supplements for the (Finally!) Surrendered

fullmoon50 Member Posts: 40

Hi to all you wonderful folks! My spouse was diagnosed 12/2017 with PSA 34 and Gleason 10,with 3 enlarged pelvic lymph nodes. He has locally advanced PCa. He started Casodex and Lupron 2 weeks later. Radiation began in May.  He has 8 more sessions of EBRT to go. He is doing very well with ADT and has had minimal side effects. Also has had very slight side effects with radiation. He’s needed Imodium a couple times and also has Flomax. Flomax helped with overnight frequency at first but not so much a few weeks later.

Anyway, as I’ve written before, he has been resisting talking about his diagnosis or even researching the topic. He also has made no lifestyle adjustments. BTW he also has hypertension and Type 2 diabetes. After a well-timed visit from my brother-in-law (a PCa survivor of 15 years) and a loving scolding that he delivered to my husband, things are changing a lot. Paul had a very rough week emotionally recently that led to his acknowledgement that he needed to take a few months on disability. He’s been way more communicative too.

For the first time, he asked me what I thought would help him in his battle. Hallelujah! We talked about exercise and diet. Much to my surprise, he’s interested in what supplements he might be taking-not with the hopes of curing cancer but more to support his immune system and general health. I don’t want to overwhelm him as he’s historically non-compliant with complex regimens. So my question is for him and others early in their PCa journey, what recommendations do you have? I’ve read a lot here and elsewhere that explains in great scientific detail why a given supplemen is helpful. Honestly, my head spins at trying to sort it out. It would be helpful if you list a supplement with a simple reason how it helps. Also, are there supplements that should be avoided? I know some of you are on various specialized diets (eg alkaline, or vegan, etc) but I think that’s beyond his interest at this point. 

I would appreciate your suggestions. I’m so grateful that he now has time to take care of himself. He’s asked me for help and that makes me very, very happy. Thank you!


  • Grinder
    Grinder Member Posts: 487 Member
    carbs and sugars

    I am sure a lot of the guys have a lot to say on this subject.

    Let me start with the worst threats to your immune system... as your immune system is your best defense against metastasized cells that are in foreign locations, and the immune system recognizes them as such, and can take action against a foreign body, in this case a cancerous cell that has traveled away from its origin where it is harder to recognize, and is now in foreign tissue where it is easier to recognize... for example, a cancerous prostate cell leaves prostate tissue where it is not easily recognized, and travels by bloodstream to other tissue, where it lives among other different cells, like another organ. The immune system then recognizes it as a foreign invader into that tissue and takes action against it.

    Once the body recognizes the foreign proteins, it produces phagocytes that will engulf the foreign cell... but the phagocyte requires Vitamin C in larger doses than normally supplied in the blood stream... some 50 times more, in order to engulf the foreign invader cell.

    The problem arises when blood sugar rises because of excessive carb and sugar consumption, if the body has not produced sufficient insulin to handle ever increasing amounts of simple carbs and sugars, so that the sugar levels are increasing in the blood stream. The body needs some carbs and sugars to burn for energy, any excess is handled by insulin... unless insulin production is too low, or sugar levels are far too high.

    The other side to this drama, the phagocytes mistake the sugars in the blood stream and use them instead of the Vitamin C and other necessary components it requires... and the sugars in the bloodstream actually reduce its action against invaders and even debilitates the action of the phagocytes.

    So the more simple carbohydrates and sugars are consumed, the more debilitated the phagocytes are, and the less effective your immune system becomes. And your immune system is the defense that can recognize the difference between a cancerous  cell and a healthy cell.

    Simple carbs and sugars are in most pasta, bread, cakes, muffins, fruit juice, processed foods, etc. Yes, most of our food addictions are carbs and sugars. Simple carbs should be replaced with complex carbs that won't flood the bloodstream with sugars, such as  whole grains, fresh vegetables, whole fruits... and diets should include more Omega 3 fatty acids and protein rich foods, especially fish and nuts.

    Ok, this is a start to boosting your immune system... reduce simple carbs and sugars. Increase complex carbs, Omega 3s, and proteins.

    There are other ways to cripple your immune system... stress being a huge one

    More to come...

    This is my opinion, the way I understand how the immune system works... you should not take this as medical advice.


  • lighterwood67
    lighterwood67 Member Posts: 384 Member

    There are many interesting reads on Immuno-Onocology (I-O) out there.  Pulled this off a Mayo Clinic site:  

    Myth: People with cancer shouldn't eat sugar, since it can cause cancer to grow faster.


    Fact: Sugar doesn't make cancer grow faster. All cells, including cancer cells, depend on blood sugar (glucose) for energy. But giving more sugar to cancer cells doesn't speed their growth. Likewise, depriving cancer cells of sugar doesn't slow their growth. This misconception may be based in part on a misunderstanding of positron emission tomography (PET) scans, which use a small amount of radioactive tracer — typically a form of glucose. All tissues in your body absorb some of this tracer, but tissues that are using more energy — including cancer cells — absorb greater amounts. For this reason, some people have concluded that cancer cells grow faster on sugar. But this isn't true. However, there is some evidence that consuming large amounts of sugar is associated with an increased risk of certain cancers, including esophageal cancer. It can also lead to weight gain and increase the risk of obesity and diabetes, which may increase the risk of cancer.

  • RobLee
    RobLee Member Posts: 269 Member
    Cancer and supplements

    While he is receiving radiation he should not be taking any powerful antioxidants... megadoses of vitamin E, selenium, betacarotene, alpha lipoic acid, resveratol, you name it.  Antioxidants counteract the effect of radiation.  Antioxidants neutralize free radicals, which normally is a good thing.  But it is the free radicals that cause the cancer cells to die.

    Cancer cells are our own body cells that have gone crazy. Normal cells grow at a certain rate then eventually die off, to be replaced by new normal cells.  Cancer cells grow rapidly and have forgotten how to die.  However they are unable to repair themselves if damaged.  Radiation damages all cells, but normal healthy cells can repair themselves overnight between treatments.  But the cancer cells are fatally damaged and eventually die after radiation, but it takes a long time time... months.

    What lighterwood said above is true, and we were told so by an oncologist.  All cells use sugar, but cancer cells consume more of it than normal cells... fortunately, that's how we have the PET scan to locate fast growing tumors. Attempting to starve the cancer cells will starve the healthy cells first, making the patient weaker and less able to fight the cancer.

    Of course, if your spouse is diabetic he would not be consuming a lot of sugar anyway.  But the diet cancer myths are promoted by opportunists to sell books and harmful diets.  Believeing that our cancers were caused by what we eat and that changing what we eat can cure cancer is nothing more than desparate peoples' desire to feel that they can control this disease.  It is normal to feel helpless when you have cancer and want to blame it on something.  That doesn't help anything.  Just look at the wealthy people who spent fortunes on alternative cures, yet ended up dying anyway. It is futility.


  • Old Salt
    Old Salt Member Posts: 1,403 Member
    Good news

    Thanks for the update. Nutrition threads tend to get quite long on this Forum with lots of conflicting info. 

    Many of us recommend a heart-healthy diet and I fully subscribe to that advice. But for your husband, addressing his diabetes is even more important. And I agree with Rob that antioxidant supplements should be avoided during radiation therapy and probably for some time thereafter as the cancer cells are dying. 

  • Grinder
    Grinder Member Posts: 487 Member

    Here is an interesting factoid about High Fructose Corn Syrup:

    This is corn syrup that has added chemical processes. It contains more calories than raw sugar or even regular sugar. It's an ingredient to avoid because it causes more of a spike in blood sugar levels. It is used to avoid the import taxes of regular sugar.

    Avoid import taxes? well now we know!

  • Grinder
    Grinder Member Posts: 487 Member

    To reiterate what has been said about sugar, and to clarify... you want to get your sugar for running your engines from complex carbohydrates instead of simple carbs and refined sugars as a sweetening additive.

    Metaphorically, its like having a nice fire going in your fireplace, and you feed it a log at a time to keep a constant pleasant fire going. That's like eating a diet with complex carbs that the body processes at a consistent rate and uses the sugar from complex carbs for necessary functions.

    Now picture a drum full of gasoline poured on your little fireplace. What? Didn't you want to burn fuel in your fireplace? Well, yes, but not at that rate.

    "The body interprets and handles all types of sugar in basically the same way. The resulting simple sugar goes into the bloodstream. The pancreas then releases a hormone called insulin that is necessary to move the sugar from the blood into the cells where it can be used for energy. Without the proper amount of insulin, i.e., if there is too much sugar for the body to process, the sugar stays in the bloodstream and causes damage to the heart, nerves and kidneys. "

    Besides damage to organs, as noted before, it inhibits and even debilitates your immune system from fighting mutated cancer cells. As mentioned by the other guys, you cannot starve your body of sugar... keeping in mind we are referring to sugar as glucose, that is derived from the processing of carbs and sugars (glucose, sucrose, fructose etc) and not ordinary table sugar that is actually refined sugar.

    And like they said... there is no naturopathic remedy "magic bullet" that kills cancer cells while sparing healthy cells. There are a lot of them being touted right now on social media, such as "cannabis cured my cancer!" ...but mostly they MAY enhance the immune system only... and may not even do that.

    The trouble with anecdotal evidence... unless a remedy has undergone empirical experimentation, there is no way to tell if someone recovered because of the remedy, or if they simply recovered by their own immune response and just happened to take the remedy in the meantime.

    And then there is stress. Stress is the body's way of responding to emergency "fight or flight" stimuli in the environment... such as a Bengal tiger attacking you. The body goes into a full hyper mode to either fight off the tiger, or run from it.

    But in modern times, we dont have Bengal tigers after us. We have the "Worst Boss in the World" attacking us. Or the Worst Drivers in the World at every stoplight... or  the Worst Neighbor in the world harassing us etc etc etc. The problem with that... you can escape the tiger (hopefully) and tgen rest and return to homeostasis. But not with your crappy boss around 8 hours a day! Or tour worst neighbor who is plotting his next move in your feud. The point is, the emergency response of fight or flight was only meant to last a very brief time, yet sometimes we live in it for hours, even days at a time.

    Why is this bad? Because the body slows and even "shuts off" the immune system during this emergency response. Your immune system will not run at peak efficiency when you are stressed. And in the case of debilitating illness, your immune system must be running at peak efficiency to overcome the invading pathogens. 

    Its like the old cars that used to shut off lights, radio, etc. when the engine is starting. Once the engine is started they would come back on again.  That's what the body temporarily does to other functions when the emergency response mode is activated. And that's why stress can be such a killer... something that is appropriate in temporary, occasional situations can be dangerous if long term and pervasive.

    That's why we push stress relieving methods on this forum. And the trouble with a cancer diagnosis... the first response by the patient?... stress.

    Anyway, those are roundabout suggestions to your request about increasing your immune system, which is an important element in fighting cancer. 1) complex carbs to get glucose, instead of from simple carbs and refined sugar and 2) stress reduction

  • Grinder
    Grinder Member Posts: 487 Member

    I can't give you much in the way of suggestion. 

    I have been dealing with immune response issues since I was 50, and I have a cabinet full of naturopathic supplements... Cloves, Black Walnut extract, Oregano Oil, Echinacea, Garlic tablets, Pomegranate capsules, Coloidal Silver, Uva Ursi, Marshmallow, etc etc etc.

    Did anything help? Not really. Some of it has some value in particular instances. 

    But as far as immune system support, your best supplements are a complete Vitamin and Mineral supplement. And find a reliable brand that uses mostly naturally occurring minerals rather than lab synthesized.

    As far as diabetes goes, I will tell you what my mother's doctor told me a long time ago when she was blinded by macular degeneration... if she had been taking Chromium as a mineral supplement her whole life, she would not have suffered the diabetes.

    Diabetes runs in my family, but I took his advice to heart and I have always had normal blood sugar levels. But this is anecdotal, and I cannot explain the mechanism behind it, so take it with a grain of salt.

    And if anyone thinks my posts get quite long... just don't read them.

    Problem solved.

    And as always, this is just my experience... not medical advice. There may be supplements that can boost your husband's immune system besides vitamins and minerals. I have not found any myself.

     Good luck to you both.

  • fullmoon50
    fullmoon50 Member Posts: 40
    Thank You

    Thank you all for your replies. It’s been very hot here in San Diego and my brain is scrambled! It’s also late but I will be re-reading and thinking about your responses.

    Hugs to all! Mary

  • Grinder
    Grinder Member Posts: 487 Member

    One more caveat if I may...

    If you buy supplements off of Amazon and you look at the ratings and reviews, watch for any reviews that will say near the end "This is my honest and unbiased review for which I received a free product or discount."

     That means they are part of a "shoppers" group. Sellers will submit their products to these groups to get quick 5 star ratings and improve their trending. 

    I am surprised Amazon allows it, and it cheapens the review process. Also, I am now reluctant to buy any product with that tagline in their reviews... and what happens when they quit adding that tagline once we catch on?

    Anymore, I check the reviewers history to see if they look like regular people or professional shopper/reviewers before buying supplements off Amazon.

  • Max Former Hodgkins Stage 3
    Max Former Hodgkins Stage 3 Member Posts: 3,815 Member
    edited July 2018 #11

    Thank You

    Thank you all for your replies. It’s been very hot here in San Diego and my brain is scrambled! It’s also late but I will be re-reading and thinking about your responses.

    Hugs to all! Mary

    Mine in a very simple take on this.....


    The guys wrote some insightful, accurate, and thoughtful things above.  

    I began my cancer awareness with the cancer I had prior to PCa, Lymphoma. There, the fight is all-chemo, all the time. Blood chemistry and general heath are critical.

    My medical oncologist then (he is still in standby for me, if the Lymphoma ever relapses) has five Board Certifications, which include internal medicine, hematology, medical oncology, pallative care, and one other.  Chemically-induced anorexia is common under heavy chemo, and my wife asked him one day "what I should or not eat".  I think she expected him to reply with a list of "Good stuff/Bad stuff." He did not.  I was mostly living on Ensure and similiar products at the time.  He replied, "Let him eat whatever he will eat -- better to get some nutrition and energy from anything than to get too weak."  When I went back to work two months after the half-year of chemo, numerous people whom I had worked around for a few years did not know who I was when they first saw me again. Literally.  Some were staggered when they realized it was me. One woman was clearly about to cry or faint.  I had not been away at a health club.

    There are many journal articles on whether antioxidants should be eaten or not during chemo, and we asked him about that. He said "drink what you like, avoid what you don't."  I drank dozens of gallons of green tea during that six months on chemo, and he said drink it if it  is your preference, but don't expect it to have any real influence on your body, except hydration, which is critical anyway. I drank it for the taste.

    It simply is a fact, as stated by others above, that sugar is irrelevant to curing cancer. The same for antioxidants, herbal megasupplements, and so forth. Most commonly, they probably create more problems than they eliminate.

    A diet that generally is good for overall health is probably best during a cancer fight, same as when a person is not fighting cancer. But this is due to its affect on heath generally, not on the cancer cells. Cancer cells do not play by any of the rules for normal cells; they are the opposite of "normal" in every way. So promoting "normal" is not something they fear.

    Have him eat what he likes, avoid what he dislikes. If somethng makes him feel better, eat lots of that. If something is revolting to him, don't give it to him.  Food fetishes are also common in cancer patients. For long periods, al  I would eat was french fries. I knew a guy whowas Stage 4 on a rough chemo set, and he would only eat pot pie for months.  This sort of stuff happens, so go with it.   This may seem too simple, but it is the reality.  I slept about 15-17 hours a day, had a TV schedule of stuff I enjoyed if I was awake, listened to music.  But that was all I could handle.  Find what works. The sleep was much better for me than exercise would have been.  Find what works.

    Actually, his prognosis is not great to begin with. Astronomical Gleason, Staging, PSA.  I am not a killjoy, or a nay-sayer.  He may come back from the brink, but it will be because of the hormonal therapy and radiation if he does, not because of any dietary choices.  I hope he feels better very soon.

    We have many regulars here who have come back from numbers as bad or worse than his, and had many years of quality life thereafter,


  • Grinder
    Grinder Member Posts: 487 Member
    set the record straight

    I agree certainly that sugar does not "cause" cancer, nor "feeds" mutated cancer cells. But I have to disagree with everyone about the general effect of excessive sugar in the bloodstream.

    When we talk about sugar in the diet versus sugar as glucose that the body uses, a distinction has to be made between the use of the term.

    Sugar in the diet is the glucose, sucrose, fructose, and any "ose" that will be converted to glucose and used in the body. Insulin is produced that converts it to a useable form.

    If not enough insulin is produced, or if too much sugar is consumed, sugar will enter the blood stream and affect organ function and your immune system.

    By affecting those things, it will also hamper your own body's ability to respond to cancerous cells.

    What kind of foods will cause that in most cases? Any simple carb and added refined sugar...

    Cake, pastries, candies, sugary deserts, soda, alcoholic drinks, even some breads and pasta, or any food that combines processed simple carbs with refined sugar... 

    Like the worst of all... doughnuts.

    More anecdote... my brother was also diabetic, and he would have to test his blood sugar before every meal and was having problems with sores on his feet that would not heal. One day we unexpectedly found him dead, his body frozen in a position that looked like he was trying to reach the phone. His doctor suggested it was a diabetes related heart attack. We asked around and discovered a disturbing note about my brother... His boss said that every day Tony would start by eating doughnuts thay were brought into the office, and not just one, several. Then we discovered a punch card to the Dunkin Doughnuts near his apartment in his wallet.

    You don't have to be Sherlock Holmes to figure that out.

    As we get older, our pancreas and other organs don't function at peak efficiency anymore, and then add genetic tendencies, and we have to face this sad fact... you wont be able to process simple carbs and sugars like you did when you were a teenager. Especially when you put the two together as many of our processed foods have done to make everything taste irresistable and addictive.

    No, you don't have to become a monk in a cloistered monastery eating twigs and bark... but yes, it does mean you should avoid foods that have that combination of simple carbs, like processed  bleached wheat, and refined added sugar... and not just occasionally cheat by having a doughnut here and there either... when that doughnut hits your system, it will release a torrent of carbs and sugars... again think of adding a log here and there to your fireplace versus dumping a bucket of gasoline on it.

    Again, just my opinion, but I'm pretty sure I'm backed by medical research on this...

    Unless Krispy Kreme has financed new research that says different...Wink