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From the Townsend Letter
August/September 2015

Cancer and Lyme Disease: Is There a Connection?
by Nooshin K. Darvish, ND, FICT
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There is a sign (from God) in every phenomenon: The sign of the intellect is contemplation and the sign of contemplation is silence, because it is impossible for a man to do two things at one time – he cannot both speak and meditate.
`Abdu'l-Bahá. Paris Talks, 1844–1921

In 1911, Peyton Rouse discovered a viral etiology for cancer and won a Nobel Prize for his work 50 years later. Despite this discovery, cancer therapy continues to be based on the perception of cancer as the "phenomenon." As such, the majority of current conventional and alternative oncological treatments often neglect possible causative agents, including viruses, spirochete and other bacteria, molds, and other parasites. Since 1975, conventional radiation and chemotherapy, along with efforts and funds placed into cancer research, have not significantly decreased incidence rates, or mortality from cancer, especially in women.1,2 Decades of emphasizing the eradication of tumors as the treatment goal has evidently not provided significant benefit to the obliteration of cancer in general.
We must instead look at cancer from a different perspective in order to obtain more successful results. By addressing cancer as a sign, which signals underlying phenomena and thus continuing on the path that Rouse began in 1911, we will achieve the results that we have been seeking for decades. A natural progression of Rouse's work is to understand the unhealthy milieu within the tissues, which creates an environment appropriate for the invasion of viruses, parasites, and other infections, which in turn lead to cancer growth. I propose that a diseased milieu is the union of contributing factors, specifically psychoemotional trauma, toxicities, and intracellular spirochetes and their coinfections. Together these contribute to a weakened immune system, which no longer combats cancerous cells and therefore leads to tumor growth. This article will focus on spirochetes and their coinfections and their link to cancer growth and metastasis.

Multiple Systemic Chronic Infection Syndrome (MSCIS)
As multiple systemic chronic infection syndrome (MSCIS), also known as chronic Lyme disease, progresses into late-stage disease, various systems and infections become involved. Because of its nature as an intracellular spirochete, similar to HIV as an intracellular virus, the Borrelia species and its family of coinfections reduce the function and number of T cells, mainly natural killer cells in many patients. This is often seen as reduced CD8-57 on laboratory testing. These patients often exhibit other signs and abnormal laboratory test results as seen in Table 1 (pdf). Hormonal imbalances and stage 2 or greater adrenal fatigue syndrome commonly contribute to chronic fatigue in these patients.
Beyond the immunological, metabolic, and hormonal disturbances caused by MSCIS, mitochondrial and autonomic nervous system dysfunctions are common and lead to chronic fatigue, cardiac disorders, and neuropathy. Enzymatic and detoxification abnormalities and nutritional deficiencies often complicate healing and lead to further pathological conditions in MSCIS. The presence of toxicities, including chemical, metals (for example: mercury, aluminum, lead, cadmium and arsenic), mycotoxins, neurotoxins, biotoxins, and biofilm result in significant neurological, musculoskeletal and digestive symptoms and pain. Allergies and severe hypersensitivity reactions to food, environmental agents, electromagnetic fields, light, and sound plague many of these patients, as do digestive disorders such as small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, leaky gut syndrome, candidiasis, and parasitic infections. Furthermore, as the disease progresses, there is a worsening of sleep disorders, psychoemotional issues, chronic pain, and cachexia.
The signs and symptoms of late-stage MSCIS, as described above, mimic the signs and symptoms of late-stage cancer patients. Because these signs and symptoms of MSCIS are identical to those of late-stage cancer, the possibility then exists that MSCIS plays a pivotal role in the etiology of cancer. My clinical experience verifies that those cancer survivors whose lifespans were considerably prolonged and whose quality of life improved significantly, as compared with their respective counterparts treated by conventional methods alone, were diagnosed and treated for MSCIS. Examples of patients with aggressive cancers, such as pancreatic cancer, grade IV glioblastoma, stage 3 serous carcinoma of the uterus, stage 4 myxofibrosarcoma, stage 4 invasive ductal carcinoma, chronic myelogenous leukemia, stage 4 colon cancer, and many others once diagnosed and treated for MSCIS, have resolution or stabilization of their cancers as evidenced at my clinic.

Chemotherapy as Antimicrobial Therapy
The fact that patients with successful conventional treatments of their cancers do exist points to the concept that several of the chemotherapeutic agents also act as antimicrobial agents. Oncologists may not be aware that some chemotherapy agents act as strong antimicrobial agents; cisplatin and adriamycin, for example, reduce not only the cancerous load but also the infectious load of MSCIS. Cisplatin has antimicrobial activity against gram-negative and gram-positive bacteria, as well as against yeast and mold (see Table 2). Twenty-one chemotherapeutic agents with antimicrobial activity against four different microbes are listed in Table 3 (pdf). Further evaluation of chemotherapeutic agents and their antispirochete activity is needed to understand their efficacy in cancer patients with MSCIS. These antineoplastic agents appear to decrease the infectious load in cancer patients and MSCIS patients. Thus, the fact that some patients do have success with conventional cancer treatments may be attributed to the antimicrobial rather than the antineoplastic properties of utilized chemotherapeutic agents.


Table 2: Antimicrobial Effects of Cistplatin
Gram positive: E. coli, Klebsiella p., Pseudomonas a., Proteus m., Serratia m.
Gram positive bacteria:
Streptococcus, Staph aureus, Neisseria catarrhalis
Yeast & mold:
Saccharomyces c., Schizosaccharomyces, Candida albicans, & Dictyostelium d.3


Antimicrobial Therapy with Antineoplastic Benefits
The use of antibiotics appears to increase the risk of breast cancer.5 Velicer et al. outline the use of antibiotics associated with an increase risk of breast cancer due to the fact that antibiotics cause disturbances in immune function, inflammation, and estrogen metabolism.4 The study does not discuss causal effects of antibiotics and cancer, nor does it discuss particular antibiotics. Certain antibiotics and antimicrobial medications have been shown to induce apoptosis to individual cancer cells lines.6,7,9,11 Therefore, one would infer that these particular antimicrobials decrease cancer risk, though this needs further investigation. The possibility then exists that effective antibiotics specifically against borreliosis and its coinfections may reduce cancer risk, which also requires further investigation.
Interestingly, fluoroquinolones exhibit antineoplastic behavior through inhibiting DNA replication, causing mitochondrial damage and inhibiting topoisomerase activity. Ciprofloxacin is not only effective against borreliosis but has shown to cause apoptosis to colorectal cancer cell lines.6 Potential exists for quinolones to be used as effective antineoplastic agents in cancers including bladder cancer.7,8
Fungal infections and mold toxicities play an important role in the symptomatology and possible disease progression of MSCIS as well as cancer. Ketoconazole is a potent antifungal and exhibits effective chemotherapeutic activity in metastatic prostate cancer.9,10 Mycoplasma is a coinfection of borreliosis and plays a significant role in lung cancer.12 Antifungal medications, therefore, may prove to be an effective treatment for lung cancer.
Parasitic infections often are found in patients with cancer as well as those fighting MSCIS. Antiparasitic drugs including mebendazole and all "-azoles" appear to elicit strong antitumor activity both in vivo and in vitro, making them effective agents in cancer patients with MSCIS. The "-azoles" appear to inhibit cystoplastic microtubule formation and replication leading to apoptosis, deter glucose uptake by cells without affecting serum glucose levels, target cancer cells and helminthes, and impede neovascularization in vitro and in vivo.11

Natural Antimicrobials with Antitumor Activity
Multiple herbal antimicrobials addressing bacteria, fungi, viruses, and spirochetes also exhibit antitumor activity, making them effective in the treatment of cancer and MSCIS. Examples of such herbs are found in Table 4. Many of these herbs show efficacy in the treatment of Lyme disease and potentiate adjunctive cancer protocols, often acting as antiangiogenesis modulators, inhibiting tumor replication, causing cancer cell arrest and apoptosis, downregulating inflammation and VEGF (vascular endothelial growth factor), and reducing platelet aggregation. Herbal extracts, such as andrographolides from Andrographis p., and oleuropein and hydroxytyrosol from olive-leaf extract and its oil, as well as berberine alkaloids, have greater benefits beyond their antimicrobial, cytotoxic, antineovascularization, immune-modulating, and anti-inflammatory effects in cancer and MSCIS. These extracts exhibit powerful protection of the liver and kidneys from chemotoxicity, thus making them important adjunctive therapies in cancer.


Table 4: Examples of Herbal Extracts with Antimicrobial and Antitumor Effects
Andrographolides (Andrographis paniculata)
Oleuropein, hydroxytyrosol (Olive Leaf Extract and oil)
Berberine alkaloids  (
Hydrastis canadensis, Berberis aquifolium, Coptis chinensis, Berberis vulgaris, Berberis aristata)
Artesunate (artemisinin)
Uncaria tomentosa extract


Clinical Cases
The following clinical cases, from personal experience, exemplify the benefits of evaluation and treatment of MSCIS in cancer patients.
A 57-year-old male with grade IV glioblastoma, the most aggressive form of brain tumor, was given a 6-month prognosis. However, he survived over 7 years once he was diagnosed with neuroborreliosis and treated for Lyme disease and MSCIS using naturopathic and integrative medicine with a non-antibiotic-based protocol.
A 46-year-old female with stage 4 myxofibrosarcoma involving bone metastasis was told that she needed amputation of her thigh in order to survive. Once she was diagnosed with MSCIS and treated accordingly using herbal and natural therapies, her tumor significantly regressed after 3 months of treatment. Because she no longer had bone metastasis, leg amputation was no longer indicated and was not performed. Today, she walks normally and is in remission.
A 58-year-old female with chronic myelogenous leukemia of 10 years and recent diagnosis of invasive ductal carcinoma of the breast had complete regression of both of her cancers after she was diagnosed and treated for MSCIS using an integrative non-pharmaceutical-based protocol.

Oncological patients should be evaluated and treated for multiple systemic chronic infectious syndrome. The immunodeficiency that occurs in MSCIS increases the risk of cancers. To have effective treatments for cancer, conventional therapies involving chemotherapy and radiation are not sufficient. Multiple infections involving spirochetes, bacteria, viruses, parasites, and fungi, found in cancer patients necessitate the use of herbal and pharmaceutical antimicrobial agents. The complexity of oncological patients demands further research to investigate the presence of hidden MSCIS in every cancer patient if we are to make advancements in cancer mortality and incidence, and to improve quality of life. Cancer is not a phenomenon but a sign signaling a diseased milieu, directing us to evaluate the underlying disease progression through a more thorough evaluation and treatment of MSCIS.

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