Galectin-3: Disarming Cancer’s Bodyguard - Dr. Axe

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Galectin-3: Disarming Cancer’s Bodyguard


Galectin-3 - Dr. Axe

We’re making great strides in the treatment of cancer — 16.9 million survivors in the United States can testify to that. But this doesn’t mean it’s easy, as any patient will tell you. Cancer acts with innate intelligence, like it has a mind of its own, and uses sophisticated mechanisms to survive at any cost. In order to stay ahead of the disease, we have to outwit it at every turn. And part of that means better understanding galectin-3.

While we may never completely eradicate cancer from this world, groundbreaking discoveries have the potential to give us the upper hand against this aggressive disease. If cancer is smart, we have to be brilliant — and with leading-edge integrative strategies, we can be.

For more than 30 years, I’ve specialized in the integrative treatment of cancer, designing individualized protocols that combine diverse modalities into a comprehensive care plan based on each patient’s unique story. Nevertheless, amid the wide range of personalized treatments, there remain a handful of powerful integrative therapies that continue to demonstrate remarkable results against cancer, regardless of the type or stage.

The goal is to eliminate the disease and simultaneously restore health, and in my decades of research and working with patients, I’ve seen many outcomes that other doctors would call “miraculous.” We call it simply, integrative medicine. And while not every patient will become a miracle, every patient has the potential to be, based on the power of our innate healing capacity.

The secret is how to uncover it.


From Survival to Wellness

As an integrative MD and researcher, licensed acupuncturist and life-long practitioner of Buddhist meditation, I’ve developed a unique perspective and methodology around mind-body medicine, and specifically, our innate abilities to heal ourselves and others. At the same time, fascinating research continues to unravel the vast network of mechanisms that connect our mind and emotions to our physical health.

From these advancements, one thing has become crystal clear: In order to activate our innate healing abilities, to overcome cancer or any condition, we have to shift our biochemistry from a state of struggle and survival, to a state of harmony and wellness. Amid the constant barrage of stressors — environmental toxins, destructive emotions, fast-paced lifestyles — we have to find a way to turn off the biochemical alarm that’s constantly triggering our fight or flight responses.

These responses are a natural part of our immediate survival drive, but over time, they fuel inflammation, degeneration and cancer progression.

So how exactly do we solve this paradox? Because, obviously, we want to survive any life-threatening condition. In such cases our first instincts, as well as prevailing medical standards, call to arms an epic battle. But as the saying goes, no one wins in war. In order to overcome the disease and optimize long-term health, we need a more sophisticated approach.

Luckily, a large and fast-growing body of research has given us a specific therapeutic target to achieve this goal: the biological protein galectin-3. Thousands of published studies show how galectin-3, an adhesive cell surface protein with roles in cellular development and injury repair, acts as the number one driver of cancer progression and metastasis, as well as the initial alarm that controls the biochemical response to fight or flight survival. When the body perceives itself to be under attack, it produces more galectin-3, which in turn triggers a cascade of inflammatory signals, all of which fuel cancer and chronic diseases.

Disarming Galectin-3, Cancer’s Bodyguard

Galectin-3 allows tumor cells to stick together, develop blood supply, metastasize and evade the immune system. Galectin-3 also prevents apoptosis of cancer cells, and forms a protective barrier around tumors to shield them from attack. Essentially, cancer is using it for its own independent survival within our bodies. For these reasons, galectin-3 is termed, “the guardian of the tumor microenvironment.”

When we block the activity of unhealthy galectin-3 in the body, we can halt and reverse tumor growth, reduce metastasis, and restore proper immune function against the cancer. And according to the extensive body of published data, there is one way to do this: with a specific, researched form of the natural supplement, modified citrus pectin (MCP), derived from citrus peel pith. With over 50 published studies and counting, researchers at Harvard, the NIH and other renowned institutes are increasingly interested in the singular ability of this MCP to halt and reverse the devastating actions of galectin-3, in cancer as well as heart disease, kidney failure, arthritis and much more.

This researched form of MCP has a very specific molecular weight and structure which allows it to enter the circulation from the digestive tract, and bind to the carbohydrate receptors on galectin-3 molecules, safely disarming them.

Its anticancer effects are apparent in significant clinical results. One recent clinical study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology showed that this MCP effectively slowed PSA doubling time and cancer progression in patients with biochemical relapse of prostate cancer.


What if we could use our minds to reduce galectin-3? Research shows we can. One fascinating new study demonstrated that after 60 days of daily meditation practice, galectin-3 levels among heart disease patients were significantly reduced, compared to their original baseline.  This makes sense, since galectin-3 functions as the master alarm that sounds off ceaselessly when the body is under stress. This study also supports previous research showing that regular meditation reduces other pro-cancer proteins like TNF-alpha and CRP — these inflammatory markers are triggered by the master regulator, galectin-3. This is why I use meditation as an integral part of my medical and healing practice.

Strategy of Synergy

Based on extensive research and decades of clinical experience, I’ve found that targeting galectin-3 allows us to address a key cause of cancer development and progression, supporting and enhancing the body’s ability to overcome the disease. The shift from survival to wellness and harmony serves as the foundation of a truly holistic model of medicine, which we apply extensively in our clinic, Amitabha Medical Clinic in Santa Rosa, California.

The use of MCP, as well as the application of mind-body exercises, are two proven methods to address unhealthy galectin-3. In cases of aggressive cancer, a more intensive treatment called Therapeutic Apheresis can also be used. This advanced blood filtration treatment reduces inflammatory compounds and growth factors, as well as galectin-3, and can significantly change the outcome of cancer treatment.

When we address galectin-3, we see enhanced results when we layer additional therapies that work synergistically with this approach. For example, Apheresis provides critical benefits when used prior to chemotherapy, enhancing chemo’s efficacy and reducing side effects. By disrupting galectin-3’s protective mechanisms, we also allow other therapies — conventional and holistic — to reach the tumor for greater anti-cancer benefits.

One particular extract that exhibits remarkable ability against cancer is pure honokiol, a highly active molecule derived from Magnolia officinalis bark. Honokiol may be nature’s “smart drug” against cancer and other conditions; it works on numerous cellular and genetic pathways to halt cancer growth and metastasis, trigger apoptosis, reduce inflammation, decrease free radical formation and protect neurological function. Multiple published papers on this unique extract demonstrate its effectiveness and safety, including one study showing it works synergistically with MCP.

Additional therapeutic adjuncts include medicinal mushrooms for broad-spectrum immune support, as well as researched botanical and nutrient formulas with unique anticancer mechanisms. The goal is to create a multifaceted strategy that targets cancer’s multiple survival mechanisms with diverse, synergistic treatments.


Paradigm Shift

The more data that emerges on galectin-3, the more we see how it serves as the master regulator of our health and disease axis. In cancer, it’s a primary conductor. When we address unhealthy galectin-3 expression with proven methods, we effectively treat not just cancer, but numerous life-threatening conditions as well. We increase our longevity and health-span significantly, by balancing our biochemical alarm system.

This is how we can shift out of survival mode, and into a state of health, wellness and longevity.

Isaac Eliaz, MD, MS, LAc has been a recognized expert in the field of integrative medicine since the early 1980s, with a specific focus on cancer, immune health, detoxification and mind-body medicine. He is a respected formulator, clinician, researcher, author and educator. As part of his commitment to the advancement of integrative medicine, Dr. Eliaz partners with leading research institutes and has co-authored numerous peer-reviewed papers on innovative therapies for immune enhancement, heavy metal toxicity and cancer prevention and treatment. He is founder and medical director of Amitabha Medical Clinic and Healing Center in Santa Rosa, CA, where he and his team of practitioners pioneer individualized treatments for cancer and chronic illness.

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