$3M Research Grant Awarded to Canada-US Researchers Investigating the Impact of Naturopathic Medicine on Late Stage Cancer Survival

Microscope with cancer cells on monitor

American and Canadian healthcare professionals, including those from Bastyr University, will work together to study the effectiveness of advanced integrative oncology (AIO) treatment for patients with late stage cancer. AIO treatment includes elements of conventional and naturopathic medicine.

The funding was jointly announced today by the Bastyr University Research Institute and Ottawa Integrative Cancer Centre (OICC), an arm of the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine (CCNM).

The $3 million grant, provided by a private Canadian foundation that wishes to remain anonymous, will fund the Canadian/US Integrative Oncology Study (CUSIOS). This is the largest-ever North American observational study to assess integrative oncology for people with late stage cancer.

The goals of CUSIOS are to observe and measure the overall survival of a cohort of late stage cancer (III and IV) patients who receive AIO treatments and, to describe integrative therapies provided by naturopathic doctors across the cohort. A total of 400 people with advanced breast, colorectal, pancreatic and ovarian cancer will be studied in seven clinics across North America over three years.  Each selected site provides comprehensive whole-person care in naturopathic oncology, applying advanced science-based treatment for people with late stage cancer.

Integrative oncology aims to combine the best of conventional and whole-person naturopathic care seamlessly and safely to:  improve survival, enhance quality of life, reduce side effects from conventional treatment and help prevent recurrence.

AIO therapies used by naturopathic doctors for late stage cancer are directed at multiple mechanisms to slow tumour progression, prevent metastatic spread and improve survival. The therapies are variable but may include intravenous vitamin C, intravenous artemisinin intravenous dichloroacetate, mistletoe, hyperthermia, nutritional protocols and the use of immunomodulatory, anti-cancer, and anti-inflammatory natural health products.

“We have chosen to study the outcomes of naturopathic oncology because this area of integrative oncology is currently leading the field in the application of advanced natural medicine therapeutics,” said Leanna Standish, ND, PhD, FABNO, Professor at the Bastyr University Research Institute, and American lead investigator of CUSIOS. “We will collect survival outcomes on late stage cancer patients treated at multiple naturopathic oncology clinics in North America in order to address the fundamentally important question of whether or not AIO has a beneficial impact on survival.” 

“We are thrilled to have this opportunity to assess the effect advanced integrative oncology can have on survival rates in late stage cancer patients,” said Dugald Seely, ND, MSc, FABNO, Executive Director of OICC, Director of Research for CCNM, and Canadian lead investigator for CUSIOS. “The results of this study will provide valuable insight on the role of naturopathic medicine in cancer care and will lead to the conduct of more rigorous randomized controlled trials.”   

“It is an honor to collaborate with the brightest minds in Canada on such an important study,” said Bastyr University President Daniel K. Church, PhD. “In partnership with our colleagues at CCNM and OICC I hope we will uncover valuable insight into how integrative oncology care may have a positive impact on those with late stage cancer.”

Bob Bernhardt, President and CEO of CCNM added, “It is through exemplary research collaborations such as CUSIOS that we continue to assess the benefits and advance the clinical evidence-base for naturopathic medicine, making it more integral to our healthcare system and accessible to Canadians. CCNM and the OICC conduct world-leading research and we are proud to align with Bastyr University in co-leading this critically important study for late stage cancer patients.”

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