Canine Cancer: The Benefit of Using Supplements

Research continues to examine the potential therapeutic benefits from those foods that are commonly ingested. The Natural Products Branch of the National Cancer Institute’s Division of Cancer Treatment and Diagnosis is responsible for coordinating programs directed at the discovery and development of novel, naturally derived agents to treat cancer. Amazingly, about 60,000 plant and marine organism samples have been collected. Because well over 50 percent of an estimated 250,000 plant species come from tropical forests, the division concentrates on these regions.

Since 1960, only seven plant-derived anticancer drugs have received FDA approval for commercial production. However, there are several agents currently being investigated in clinical trials. Each year scientists test about 20,000 extracts, and 98 percent of them do not show activity against cancer.

Check out this article from Dr. Messonnier: Supplements that may Counteract Side Effects from Conventional Cancer Therapies. And, then learn about the many supplements below that are being used. While we do not use everything listed, our Golden Alfie does get organic blueberries, raspberries, green tea, and broccoli on a daily basis thru his diet.

Morinda Citrifolia (Noni)
According to the National Cancer Institute, Morinda citrifolia yields various herbal preparations, including fruit juice (noni) and extracts from the root and leaf. Noni juice has antioxidant properties, and may prevent tumorigenesis via inhibition of DNA-carcinogen adduct formation.

In the study, "Inhibition of angiogenic initiation and disruption of newly established human vascular networks by juice from Morinda citrifolia (noni)," when used at a concentration of 10% in growth media, noni was able to induce vessel degeneration and apoptosis in wells with established capillary networks within a few days of its application. It was also found that 10% noni juice in media was an effective inhibitor of capillary initiation in explants from human breast tumors. In tumor explants which did show capillary sprouting, the vessels rapidly degenerated (2-3 days) in those exposed to media supplemented with 10% noni. In another study, "Antitumour potential of a polysaccharide-rich substance from the fruit juice of Morinda citrifolia (Noni) on sarcoma 180 ascites tumour in mice," noni was found to possess both prophylactic and therapeutic potentials against the immunomodulator sensitive Sarcoma 180 tumour system.

Resveratrol (Blueberries, Raspberries, Cranberries, Huckleberries, Peanuts, Grapes, Related Plants)

According to the National Cancer Institute, this phytoalexin derived from grapes, berries and other food products has antioxidant and potential chemopreventive activities. Levels of resveratrol in the juice/pulp of berries and grapes were much lower than in the skin and seeds. Resveratrol induces phase II drug-metabolizing enzymes (anti-initiation activity); mediates anti-inflammatory effects and inhibits cyclooxygenase and hydroperoxidase functions (anti-promotion activity); and induces promyelocytic leukemia cell differentiation (anti-progression activity), thereby exhibiting activities in three major steps of carcinogenesis. This agent may inhibit TNF-induced activation of NF-kappaB in a dose- and time-dependent manner.

Overall, resveratrol stops cancer in many diverse ways, from blocking estrogen and androgens to modulating genes. It causes a unique type of cell death, and kills cancer cells whether they do or do not have the tumor suppressor gene, and also works whether cancer cells are estrogen receptor-positive or negative. Researchers at the University of Notre Dame have shown that resveratrol increases the effects of vitamin D. Researchers in Austria have shown it blocking the ability of cancer cells to metastasize to bone (30-71%). Resveratrol also acts against a component of the Western diet that promotes cancer cell growth: linoleic acid.

Resveratrol works against a wide range of cancers, both at the preventive and treatment stages. Its ability to stop cancer is connected to its capability, first, to distinguish a cancer cell from a normal cell. Unlike chemotherapeutic drugs that affect normal as well as cancer cells, resveratrol actually protects rather than damage healthy cells. In addition, it doesn't just scavenge free radicals, it activates and deactivates critical enzymes and genes, hormones and chemicals.

Although there are more than 450 plants in the blueberry family Vaccinium, there are a few main types of blueberry plants indigenous to North America - the wild, low bush, sweet blueberry plant, Vaccinium angustifolium, two high bush varieties used for cultivated blueberry plants, Vaccinium corymbosum and Vaccinium ashei, and the sour variety of New England, Vaccinium myrtilloides. The wild blueberry is native to northeastern North America growing from Minnesota to Maine and as far north as the Arctic. For the most part this variety is confined to growing in this cooler climatic area. The wild blueberry is a small, dwarf plant reaching only the height of 1 to 2 feet. The cultivated blueberry is a much taller bush planted in many different areas, and are maintained much like an olive grove or an orchard. Wild blueberry plants are not planted. They develop naturally from native existing stands and are simply managed. Although both types of blueberries contain healthful antioxidants, it is the wild, low bush blueberry that was recently rated #1 in antioxidant activity by the USDA. To determine the antioxidant activity of various foods, the USDA uses a system referred to as Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC). By testing the ability of foods and other compounds to subdue oxygen free radicals, the USDA was able to determine each compound's antioxidant capability. The ORAC value of wild blueberries is 2,400, the highest of 20 common fruits rated.

For centuries wild blueberries were gathered from the fields, forests and bogs of North America by Native American tribes. These tiny berries were a valuable food source used in stews, soups, cooked with ground corn and sweetened with maple syrup or honey, and made into a type of jerky with deer meat, which helped many survive the long, cold northern winters. The blossom end or calyx of each berry forms the shape of a perfect five pointed star. Native Americans called it the 'star berry', and the elders of the tribe often told stories of how the Great Spirit brought the 'star berries' so that the children could relieve their hunger during a famine. They used the juice of the berries to ease what they called 'old coughs', and to dye rugs, blankets, and clothing. They also made smoked berries, sun dried berries, and blueberry powder to flavor meats. They even used the leaves and roots to make teas. When the Pilgrims arrived, the Native Americans taught them how to grow and use native plants to help them survive. One such plant was the wild blueberry. They taught them how to sun dry and store them for the winter. Over time the berries became an important food source for the early settlers.

Black Raspberries & Strawberries
In May 2005, Louisiana State University scientists showed that black raspberries contain antiangiogenic compounds capable of restraining tumor growth. Antiangiogenic compounds work by actually inhibiting the formation of new blood vessels, without which tumors cannot expand. The researchers discovered that berries contain a "highly potent antiangiogenic fraction that accounts for only one percent of the fresh weight of whole black raspberries." They consider it natural and potent enough to use clinically as a "promising complementary cancer therapy" [Liu Z, Schwimer J, Liu D, et al. Black raspberry extract and fractions contain angiogenesis inhibitors. J Agric Food Chem. 2005 May 18;53(10):3909-3915.]

Black raspberries (Rubus occidentalis) have very high levels of antioxidants capable of neutralizing the free radicals and carcinogens that daily assault our bodies. According to Gary Stoner, PhD, "The more antioxidant activity, the more potent the berry will be as a cancer inhibitor."

Dr. Stoner has shown that black raspberries as well as strawberries, when added to the diets of rodents, can prevent carcinogen-induced esophageal cancer by 60 percent. In another experiment, a diet containing freeze-dried black raspberries reduced the incidence of cancer of the colon by up to 80 percent. In addition, Chris Weghorst, PhD, also of OSU, has shown black raspberries to inhibit cancer of the oral cavity. Dr. Stoner's group has also shown that black raspberry extracts down-regulate vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) - a critical signaling molecule that is involved in angiogenesis.

According to Richard Funt, PhD, medical research indicates that fruits eaten as soon as possible after being picked (or fresh-frozen) are better than cooked products. Berries picked and left to sit around on a hot day will have their antioxidant levels decreased by up to 40 percent. Click here to learn more about Berry Good Health from Susan Thorpe-Vargas Ph.D.

InsP5 ( in Cashews, Peanuts, Kidney, Pinto & Navy Beans)
There is an enzyme that cancer (tumor growth) needs called "phosphoinositide 3kinase. And, there is something in common foods that inhibits it called inositol pentakisphosphate (InsP5). A new study out of the UK's University College London, published in the Cancer Research Journal, indicates that cashew nuts, peanuts, kidney beans and navy beans are all rich in InsP5. Beans and nuts that have been cooked are a better source because the heating process generates more InsP5 as it breaks down other compounds.

Curcumin (Turmeric)

According to the National Cancer Institute, curcumin is a phytopolylphenol pigment isolated from the plant Curcuma longa, commonly known as tumeric, with a variety of pharmacologic properties. Curcumin blocks the formation of reactive-oxygen species, possesses anti-inflammatory properties as a result of inhibition of cyclooxygenases (COX) and other enzymes involved in inflammation; and disrupts cell signal transduction by various mechanisms including inhibition of protein kinase C. These effects may play a role in the agent's observed antineoplastic properties, which include inhibition of tumor cell proliferation and suppression of chemically induced carcinogenesis and tumor growth in animal models of cancer.

In the book, Prescription for Herbal Healing, curcumin is noted as causing the death of cancer cells arising from several different types of tissue. By curtailing the activity of platelet-activating factor (PAF), which is necessary for the formation of new blood vessels that tumors need to grow, curcumin can keep tumors from spreading. Curcumin can also aid recovery from cancer by stimulating the immune system. In Dr. Kidd's Guide to Herbal Dog Care, he believes tumeric to have anticancer properties, anti-inflammatory properties, antimicrobial characteristics, cardiovascular system benefits (inhibits platelet aggregation and interferes with intestinal cholesterol uptake), and intestinal benefits (decreases gas formation). He believes it is the perfect herb to sprinkle on your dog's food, as dogs relish its taste.

Green Tea Extract

Much of the initial evidence that green tea is anti-carcinogenic is based on epidemiological studies which show lower rates of many types of cancer among populations such as the Japanese and Chinese, who drink green tea on a daily basis. Recent studies have identified the polyphenol (-) epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) as the active ingredient. EGCG is able to cause cancer cells to die through a process called apoptosis. It inhibits carcinogenesis and tumor growth and metastasis by suppressing angiogenesis. EGCG may also have an inhibitory effect on the enzyme, urokinase, which is required for tumor formation. Green tea's antioxidants also are believed to be beneficial to the heart and to help in preventing the oxidation of LDL cholesterol.

CLICK HERE to read the National Cancer Institute Tea and Cancer Prevention Fact Sheet.

Indole-3-Carbinol (found in Broccoli, Cauliflower, Kale, Cabbage & Brussels sprouts)
According to the National Cancer Institute, Indole-3-carbinol is a natural compound present in a wide variety of plant food substances including members of the family Cruciferae with antioxidant and potential chemopreventive properties. Indole-3-carbinol scavenges free radicals and induces various hepatic cytochrome P450 monooxygenases. Specifically, this agent induces the hepatic monooxygenase cytochrome P4501A1 (CYP1A1), resulting in increased 2-hydroxylation of estrogens and increased production of the chemoprotective estrogen 2-hydroxyestrone. Indole-3-carbinol is found in highest concentrations in broccoli, but is also found in other cruciferous vegetables, such as cauliflower, cabbage, and kale.


Artemisinin, a herbal extract derived from a common herb called "Sweet Annie" (Artemisia annua), has been used for decades, as an anti-malarial drug. However, it is now showing promise for treating cancer. Holley Pharmaceuticals imports Artemisinin from China, where ideal growing conditions produce the highest quality plants for making the extract.

Robert Jay Rowen, MD, of Santa Rosa, California, in his medical newsletter for laypeople, "Second Opinion" published the article, Artemisinin: From Malaria to Cancer Treatment (2002). The Washington Cancer Institute Department of Orthopedic Oncology at Georgetown University Medical Centre, and a fellowship trained veterinary surgical oncologist in Washington, DC, have collaborated on a project, to determine whether Artemisinin is an effective compound in the treatment of canine osteosarcoma.

The dose recommended for most dogs is 50 mg or 100 mg twice per day for at least one month, continued for up to 6 to 12 months at a time. Artemisinin should not be combined with radiation therapy, but is compatible with chemotherapy. For more information, check out the May 2003 issue of The Whole Dog Journal.

Pomegranate Juice
According to the National Cancer Institute, pomegranate juice has antioxidant, potential antineoplastic, and chemopreventive activities. Pomegranate juice contains flavonoids which promote differentiation and apoptosis in tumor cells by down-regulating vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and stimulating migration inhibitory factor (MIF), thereby inhibiting angiogenesis. The flavanoids in pomegranate juice also scavenge reactive oxygen species (ROS) and, in some cell types, may prevent ROS-mediated cell injury and death.

Several studies show Spirulina or its extracts can prevent or inhibit cancers in humans and animals. Spirulina has a 62% amino acid content, is the world's richest natural source of Vitamin B-12 and contains a whole spectrum of natural mixed carotene and xanthophyll phytopigments. Some common forms of cancer are thought to be a result of damaged cell DNA running amok, causing uncontrolled cell growth. Cellular biologists have defined a system of special enzymes called Endonuclease which repair damaged DNA to keep cells alive and healthy. When these enzymes are deactivated by radiation or toxins, errors in DNA go unrepaired and, cancer may develop. In vitro studies suggest the unique polysaccharides of Spirulina enhance cell nucleus enzyme activity and DNA repair synthesis.

Spirulina contains all the essential amino acids, rich in chlorophyll, beta-carotene and its co-factors, and other natural phytochemicals. It is also the world's richest natural source of Vitamin B-12. Spirulina is the only green food rich in GLA essential fatty acid. GLA stimulates growth in some animals and makes skin and hair shiny and soft yet more durable. GLA also acts as an anti-inflammatory, sometimes alleviating symptoms of arthritic conditions.

Coenzyme Q10

Coenzyme Q10 is a naturally occurring benzoquinone important in electron transport in mitochondrial membranes. Coenzyme-Q functions as an endogenous antioxidant; deficiencies of this enzyme have been observed in patients with many different types of cancer and limited studies have suggested that coenzyme-Q may induce tumor regression in patients with breast cancer. This agent may have immunostimulatory effects. Our foundation store provides Ubiquinol Enhanced CoQ10, a more absorbable, active antioxidant form of CoQ10.


According to the National Cancer Institute, a host of studies provide compelling evidence that garlic and its organic allyl sulfur components are effective inhibitors of the cancer process. Several compounds are involved in garlic's possible anticancer effects. Garlic contains allyl sulfur and other compounds that slow or prevent the growth of tumor cells.

Garlic is the edible bulb from a plant in the lily family. Garlic, onions, leeks, scallions, shallots and chives are classified as members of the Allium genus. Thus, they are commonly described as Allium vegetables.

Studies reveal the benefits of garlic to not be limited to a specific species, to a particular tissue, or to a specific carcinogen. Of 37 observational studies in humans using garlic and related allyl sulfur components, 28 studies showed some cancer preventive effect. Yet, excessive intake can also have harmful effects. Garlic preparations vary in concentration and in the number of active compounds they contain.

The chemistry of garlic is complicated; and as a result, the quality of garlic products depends on the manufacturing process. Peeling garlic and processing garlic into oil or powder can increase the number and variety of active compounds. Peeling garlic releases an enzyme called allinase and starts a series of chemical reactions that produce diallyl disulfide (DADS). DADS is also formed when raw garlic is cut or crushed. However, if garlic is cooked immediately after peeling, the allinase is inactivated and the cancer-fighting benefit of DADS is lost. Scientists recommend waiting 15 minutes between peeling and cooking garlic to allow the allinase reaction to occur.

Processing garlic into powder or garlic oil releases other cancer-fighting agents. The inconsistent results of garlic research may be due, at least in part, to problems standardizing all of the active compounds within garlic preparations. Some of the garlic compounds currently under investigation are: allin (responsible for the typical garlic odor), alline (odorless compound), ajoene (naturally occurring disulfide), diallyl sulfide (DAS), diallyl disulfide (DADS), diallyl trisulfide (DAT), S-allylcysteine (SAC), organosulfur compounds and allyl sulfur compounds.


According to the National Cancer Institute, ginger is a rhizome herb isolated from the plant Zingiber officinale with potential antineoplastic activity. Ginger contains a number of different phenolic compounds, some of which have displayed antineoplastic, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant activities. This agent also exhibits antiemetic properties.

Piperine Extract
According to the National Cancer Institute, piperine extract (standardized) contains the active alkaloid piperine, derived from the fruit of the plant Piper nigrum (black pepper) and/or the plant Piper longum L. (long pepper), with thermogenic properties. Co-ingestion of piperidine enhances the bioavailability of various nutrients, including beta-carotene, curcumin, selenium, pyridoxine and coenzyme Q10. In addition, this agent may exert anti-inflammatory and anti-tumor activities and may enhance the production of serotonin.

Silymarin (Milk Thistle)

According to the National Cancer Institute, the active substance in milk thistle, silymarin, is a mixture of flavonoids, primarily consisting of 4 isomers: silibinin (also known as silybinin), isosilybinin (also known as isosilibinin), silychristin (also known as silichristin), and silydianin (also known as silidianin). Laboratory studies demonstrate that silymarin functions as a potent antioxidant, stabilizes cellular membranes, stimulates detoxification pathways, stimulates regeneration of liver tissue, inhibits the growth of certain cancer cell lines, exerts direct cytotoxic activity toward certain cancer cell lines, and may increase the efficacy of certain chemotherapy agents.


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