Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy and Cancer
HOW DOES HBOT TREAT CANCER?
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) has been shown to have a positive effect on slowing cancer cells in some cases, and supporting other cancer therapies, including tissue recovery after radiation. HBOT should not be used as a substitute for cancer treatments prescribed by your doctor, and should work in conjunction with your treatment plan.
Published studies maintain that HBOT in conjunction with other therapies can actually decrease tumor growth and progression through increasing oxygen plasma levels through HBOT. According to the National Institute of Health, HBOT does not increase cancer growth for those studied. In all cases, check with your doctor regarding whether to add HBOT to your current therapy.
HOW DOES HBOT INHIBIT CANCER GROWTH?
One way that HBOT therapy can affect cancer cells is through a reduction in hypoxia, a low-oxygen condition that is common in cancerous tumors.
“Hypoxia is a critical hallmark of solid tumors and involves enhanced cell survival, angiogenesis, glycolytic metabolism, and metastasis,” states a report on HBOT published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI). “Hyperbaric oxygen (HBOT) treatment has for centuries been used to improve or cure disorders involving hypoxia and ischemia, by enhancing the amount of dissolved oxygen in the plasma and thereby increasing O2 delivery to the tissue.”
HBO therapy can also significantly reduce inflammation in the body in general. We know that inflammation markers are elevated in people with cancer.
High levels of oxygen can also promote the growth of new blood vessels. This increase in blood vessel growth, however, does not affect the growth of cancer cells because cancer cell growth happens through anaerobic activity, not through cellular respiration. Nobel Prize-winning cell biologist Otto Warburg discovered this uniqueness in cancer cells in the 1930’s.
Feldemeier, Carl and associates in their article entitled “Hyperbaric Oxygen: Does It Promote Growth or Recurrence of Malignancy?” concluded the published literature on tumor angiogenesis mechanisms and other possible mechanisms of cancer causation or accelerated growth provides little basis for HBOT to enhance malignant growth or metastases. A history of malignancy should not be considered a contraindication for HBO2 therapy.” (Undersea Hyperb Med2003 Spring;30(1):1-18.)
HBOT AND THE NATURAL HEALING PROCESSES
HBOT has also been shown to provide relief to patients as part of their cancer treatment recovery plans.
Since hyperbaric oxygen therapy increases the dissolved oxygen in your bloodstream and reduces inflammation, the healing process is sped up. You are able recover more quickly from chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
With radiation therapy, both cancerous cells and healthy cells are attacked, leaving healthy tissues damaged. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy has been shown to help provide oxygen and nutrients to these damaged tissues, helping these areas grow new blood vessels (which may have been damaged during radiation) and tissues to heal.