Nutritional supplements like Birch have many health benefits and are being widely used by cancer patients and those at-genetic-risk of cancer. But, is it safe to take Birch supplements for all types of cancer and without considering any ongoing treatments and other lifestyle conditions? A common belief but only a myth is that anything natural can only benefit me or do no harm. As one example, the use of grapefruit with certain medications is not recommended. Another example, the use of spinach with some blood thinning medications can cause adverse interactions and should be avoided. For cancer, nutrition which includes the food and natural supplements has been shown to influence outcomes. Hence a frequently asked question by cancer patients to dieticians and doctors is “What Should I eat and What Should I Avoid?”.
Taking nutritional Birch supplements can benefit Endometrial Carcinoma/Cancer patients on Cyclophosphamide treatment. But avoid Birch supplements if on Carmustine treatment for Pineoblastoma Cancer. Similarly, taking nutritional supplement Birch can benefit healthy individuals who are at genetic risk of cancer due to mutation of gene MAX. But avoid taking nutritional supplement Birch when at genetic risk of cancer due to mutation of gene BLM.
The takeaway being – your individual context will influence your decision if nutritional supplement Birch is safe or not. And also that this decision needs to be constantly revisited as conditions change. Conditions like cancer type, current ongoing treatments and supplements, age, gender, weight, height, lifestyle and any genetic mutations identified matter. So a legitimate question for you to ask for any recommendation of food and natural supplement is how it is related to your individual context.
Nutritional supplements – vitamins, herbs, minerals, probiotics, and other specialty categories are increasing. Supplements are high concentrations of active ingredients which are also found in different foods. The difference being foods contain more than one active ingredient at lower diffused concentrations. Remember that each of these ingredients has its own science and biological mechanism at molecular level – hence choose the right combination of supplements like Birch based on individual context and conditions.
So the question is should you take the supplement Birch? Should you take it when at genetic risk of cancer for mutation of gene BLM? Should you take it when at genetic risk of cancer for mutation of gene MAX? Should you take it when diagnosed with Pineoblastoma? Should you take Birch supplement when diagnosed with Endometrial Carcinoma? Should you take it when on Carmustine treatment? Should you continue taking it if you change your treatment from Carmustine to Cyclophosphamide? So a general explanation like – it is natural or it increases immunity may not be acceptable and sufficient for choosing Birch.
Cancer remains an unsolved problem statement. The improved availability of personalized treatments and monitoring of cancer via blood and saliva have been significant factors to improve outcomes. The earlier the intervention – the better the influence on outcome. Genetic testing has the potential to assess cancer risk and susceptibility early. But besides regular monitoring in most cases there are no therapeutic intervention options available. After diagnosis with cancer such as Pineoblastoma or Endometrial Carcinoma, the treatments get personalized to tumor genomics and factors like staging of disease, age and gender. During cancer remission (after treatment cycle is complete) – monitoring is used for assessment of any relapse and accordingly decide next steps. A large majority of cancer patients and those at-risk do take nutritional supplements like Birch.
So the question is that are all genetic mutation risks and types of cancers to be considered as one when deciding the use of Birch? Are the biochemical pathway implications of genetic risk for cancer due to mutation of gene BLM the same as due to mutation of gene MAX? Are the implications of Pineoblastoma same as Endometrial Carcinoma? Is it one and the same if you are on treatment Carmustine or on Cyclophosphamide?
Birch – A Nutritional Supplement
Birch is a tree commonly found in North American, European, and Asian areas. The leaves, bark, and buds of the Birch tree are considered to have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Some of the purported uses/benefits of taking Birch orally are listed below:
- For Urinary tract infections
- Used as a diuretic
- For Arthritis and rheumatism
- For loss of hair
- For skin rashes
- For purifying the blood by flushing out harmful toxins
Birch pollen may cause allergic reactions and can lead to various conditions like atopic dermatitis, asthma, wheezing, allergic conjunctivitis, eye redness and oral-pharyngeal Itching.
Birch supplements contain many active ingredients including Lupeol and Betulinic Acid at different concentration levels. The molecular pathways which are regulated by Birch include Cancer Epigenetics, Epithelial to Mesenchymal Transition, Post Translational Modification, Stem Cell Signaling and Oxidative Stress. These cellular pathways directly or indirectly regulate specific cancer molecular endpoints like growth, spread and death. Because of this biological regulation – for cancer nutrition, the right choice of supplements like Birch individually or in combination is an important decision to be made. When making decisions on the use of supplement Birch for cancer – do consider all these factors and explanations. Because just as true for cancer treatments – Birch use cannot be a one-size-fits-all decision for all types of cancers.
Choosing Birch Supplements for Your Cancer
The reason there is no easy way to answer the question “When should I avoid Birch for Cancer” is because “It Depends!”. Just like the same treatment does not work for every cancer patient, based on your individual context the Birch may be harmful or safe. Along with which cancer and associated genetics – the ongoing treatments, supplements, lifestyle habits, BMI and allergies are all factors deciding if Birch should be avoided or not and why.
1. Will Birch Supplements benefit Pineoblastoma Cancer Patients undergoing Carmustine treatment?
Pineoblastoma is characterized and driven by specific genetic mutations like ATR and ATM leading to biochemical pathway changes in Cancer Epigenetics, DNA Repair, EPHRIN Signaling and PI3K-AKT-MTOR Signaling. A cancer treatment like Carmustine works through a specific pathway mechanism of action. The goal is to have a good overlap between the treatment and cancer driving pathways for a personalized approach which is effective. In such a condition any food or nutritional supplement which has a contrary effect to the treatment or reduces the overlap should be avoided. As an example, Birch should be avoided for Pineoblastoma along with treatment Carmustine. Birch impacts pathways/processes like Cancer Epigenetics which either promote drivers of the disease and/or nullify the treatment effect. Additionally, Birch supplements contain active ingredients like Lupeol which have CYP1A2 (drug metabolizing enzyme) interactions with Carmustine, and hence should be avoided by cancer patients undergoing this treatment. (V Ribrag et al, Leuk Res., 1994; Madhav Seervi et al, Drug Metab Pers Ther., 2016) Some of the factors which should be considered when choosing nutrition are type of cancer, treatments and supplements being taken currently (if any), age, gender, BMI, lifestyle and any genetic mutation information (if available).
2. Will Birch Supplements benefit Endometrial Carcinoma/Cancer Patients undergoing Cyclophosphamide Treatment?
Endometrial Carcinoma is characterized and driven by specific genetic mutations like PTEN and PIK3CA leading to biochemical pathway changes in Epithelial to Mesenchymal Transition, Oxidative Stress, P53 Signaling, PI3K-AKT-MTOR Signaling and Small Molecule Transport. A cancer treatment like Cyclophosphamide works through specific pathway mechanisms. The goal is to have a good overlap between the treatment and cancer driving pathways for a personalized approach. In such a condition any food or nutritional supplement which has a compatible effect to the treatment or reduces the overlap should be considered. As an example, Birch supplements should be considered for Endometrial Carcinoma along with treatment Cyclophosphamide. Birch supplement impacts pathways/processes like Epithelial to Mesenchymal Transition and Oxidative Stress which either obstruct drivers of the disease (Endometrial Carcinoma) and/or improve the treatment effect.
Foods to Eat After Cancer Diagnosis!
No two cancers are the same. Go beyond the common nutrition guidelines for everyone and make personalized decisions about food and supplements with confidence.
3. Are Birch Supplements Safe for Healthy Individuals with BLM Mutation Associated Genetic Risk?
Different companies offer panels of genes to be tested for assessing genetic risk to different cancers. These panels cover genes associated with cancers of the breast, ovary, uterus, prostate, and gastrointestinal system and others. Genetic testing of these genes may confirm a diagnosis and help guide treatment and management decisions. Identification of a disease-causing variant may also guide testing and diagnosis of at-risk relatives. BLM is one of the genes generally available in panels for cancer risk testing.
BLM mutation causes biochemical pathways Post Translational Modification, Stem Cell Signaling, Estrogen Signaling, DNA Repair and Angiogenesis to get impacted. These pathways are direct or indirect drivers of cancer molecular endpoints. Birch should be avoided when the genetic panel identifies mutation of BLM for Breast Cancer. Birch impacts pathways/processes Post Translational Modification and Stem Cell Signaling and creates adverse effects with BLM and related conditions.
4. Are Birch Supplements Safe for Healthy Individuals with MAX Mutation Associated Genetic Risk?
MAX is one of the genes available in panels for cancer risk testing. MAX mutation causes biochemical pathways Stem Cell Signaling, MAPK Signaling, Cell Cycle, MYC Signaling and Angiogenesis to get impacted. These pathways are direct or indirect drivers of cancer molecular endpoints. Consider taking Birch supplements when the genetic panel identifies mutation in MAX for Neuroendocrine Cancer. Birch impacts pathways like Stem Cell Signaling and MAPK Signaling and creates a supportive effect in those with MAX mutation and related conditions.
* Other Factors are also included like BMI, Lifestyle Habits, Treatments
The two most important things to remember are that cancer treatments and nutrition are never the same for everyone. Nutrition which includes food and nutritional supplements like Birch, is an effective tool which can be controlled by you, while facing cancer.
What food you eat and which supplements you take is a decision you make. Your decision should include consideration of the cancer gene mutations, which cancer, ongoing treatments and supplements, any allergies, lifestyle information, weight, height and habits.
The nutrition planning for cancer from addon is not based on internet searches. It automates the decision making for you based on molecular science implemented by our scientists and software engineers. Irrespective of whether you care to understand the underlying biochemical molecular pathways or not - for nutrition planning for cancer that understanding is needed.
Get started NOW with your nutrition planning by answering questions on the name of cancer, genetic mutations, ongoing treatments and supplements, any allergies, habits, lifestyle, age group and gender.
Personalized Nutrition for Cancer!
Cancer changes with time. Customize and modify your nutrition based on cancer indication, treatments, lifestyle, food preferences, allergies and other factors.
Cancer patients often have to deal with different chemotherapy side effects which affect their quality of life and look out for alternative therapies for cancer. Taking the right nutrition and supplements based on scientific considerations (avoiding guesswork and random selection) is the best natural remedy for cancer and treatment related side-effects.