Many of you will know of the Blue Staffy Ramsey, an absolute beauty of a grey (“blue”) Staffordshire terrier who has an enormous Instagram following, over 250k fans, and even his own line of collars, leashes and harnesses at company called Bully Billows. Check it out.
Ramsey has cancer.
It’s painful to say, painful to hear and painful to read. Ramsey’s cancer is also a particularly aggressive form, called Hemangiosarcoma.
I reached out to Jason, Ramsey’s human, offering to help and I am extremely happy to say that he accepted my offer. I’m happy because I know I can actually help, and I’m going to talk about how.
Ramsey’s position is precarious, he recently had his spleen removed by the Vets to slow the metastasis (spread). But the reality of Hemangiosarcoma is that it forms in cells, and whilst it does form growths in particular organs, it’s at a cellular level (the endothelial cells) where this cancer develops and needs addressing.
This may sounds like a terrifying thing, but it’s at a cellular level where diet can impact health. I see and know, that there is a great opportunity for nutrition science to support Ramsey, to be a major part of this therapy and to maximise the time he gets on this earth, and potentially see him recover.
In my opinion, cancer is hugely misunderstood. For so long we’ve assumed that cancer is about bad luck, that outcomes are down to doctors and vets, and the only way to fight cancer is to inject poison into the blood stream to kill it off (and in doing so, a lot of the patient with it).
The reality is 90% of cancers are due to lifestyle and environment factors, choices that we make for ourselves or choices we make for our dogs cause tumour growth. Studies have shown that diet causes around 30% of cancers in humans, this will be higher in dogs as they don’t smoke, drink alcohol etc. (All research references provided here).
If lifestyle affects the growth, then lifestyle can inhibit growth. Ketopet, a wonderful organisation has proven that diet can be the cure to many cancers. They even have a case study of a dog recovering from Hemangiosarcoma, Cali, you can read her story here.
When I had a dog running company, many moons ago, my best friend and colleague at the time got diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. It was a brutal awakening to real life, at such a young age we all thought we were invincible, but we actually just knew nothing at all.
Oli, my friend, utilised diet to help him recover despite the recommendations from doctors to eat donuts and pasta to fatten him up for chemo, he went the other way. The same doctors said they’d never seen tumours shrink like his. Oli happens to be the main reason I got into canine nutrition, it’s another story but it highlights that medicine hasn’t caught up with reality. That nutrition works.
When approaching cancer therapy there are some general steps that need to be taken:
- Feed the best quality diet you can.
- Give immune supporting supplements.
- Give your dog chemical-free water (filtered or spring water).
- Avoid other toxins, garden, kitchen etc.
- Move the lifestyle to being as natural as possible.
- Make specific dietary adjustments.
The rate of cancer growth and effectiveness of antitumor immune responses are determined by nutrient availability in the tumour microenvironment (TME).
It is believed that the “tumour microenvironment is not just a silent bystander, but rather an active promoter of cancer progression”.
In the case of hemangiosarcoma, the high metastatic (spreeding) rate and vascular origin that can make inflammation and angiogenesis important processes in the pathogenesis of tumours and cancer metastases.
We all know what inflammation is, but angiogenesis is something that you may not of heard of. It is the formation of new blood capillary vessels and these blood vessels provide expanding tissues and organs and tumours with oxygen and nutrients (food), and remove the metabolic waste.
Deregulated-angiogenesis plays an essential role effecting diseases, in feeding tumour growth. The first stage in tumour angiogenesis is the activation of endothelial cells, which is where hemangiosarcoma develops.
How can you attack the tumour micro-environment, to reduce inflammation and angiogenesis and effectively stop the spread of hemangiosarcoma with diet?
I love this job. This is how:
The acidic tumour microenvironment has been associated with the degree of cancer aggressiveness and highly metastatic cancers, like hemangiosarcoma. The tumour acidic environment negatively affects the immune system, leading to a state that prevents the immune cells from exploiting the tumour shrinkage and the exposure of tumour antigens that follows a successful chemotherapy.
Using diet to manipulate the acidity of the cancer cells microenvironment is way to prevent the progression and the spread of cancer. Proton pump inhibitors (alkalinising agents) have been used to reduce the production of acid. I have used a mixture of honey and bicarbonate soda.
Research has shown the antitumor effects of sodium bicarbonate is related to acidosis in the tumour microenvironment, the honey provides a delivery system.
Cancer cells eat sugar – and mixing and heating bicarbonate of soda with sugar-rich honey, binds the two together such that the honey targets the “sugar hungry” cancer cells (which consume 15x more glucose than normal cells), and thus it carries the baking soda (alkaline) into the cells, it’s like a “Trojan horse”.
Other than that, we remove all glucose from the diet. No carbs at all, a ketogenic diet must be implemented, with one or two meals a day (within a 6hr window).
Copper initiates tumour vasculature, so we’ve removed all organ meat from the diet. It’s important to note, a complete diet is the furthest thing from an anti-cancer diet. Complete diets are appropriate for healthy dogs, not for dogs needs specific therapy.
We’ve included anti-angiogenic ingredients like turkey tail, a supplement which is frequently used in anti-angiogenic therapy, and has also shown to massively increase the survival length of dogs with hemangiosarcoma. These are the necessary steps to fight Ramsey’s cancer with diet.
Another amazing thing that I’m proud to say that we are doing, is we’ve also got Ramsey signed up to take TWO gut health test kits. Ramsey will be providing incredible data on the impacts of this diet on his gut microbiome, to help future dogs get the diets they need to manage or recover from this cancer.
Not only is Ramsey able to help spread the message of the importance of diet, but he will forever be part of the contribution to help future dogs. What a champ.
If you’d like help with your dog’s diet, please get in touch with Cam here.