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The Link Between Lyme Disease and Cancer

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The Link Between Lyme Disease and Cancer

One of the unfortunate realities of Lyme disease is that it can lead to other chronic health conditions. For instance, some researchers and Lyme-literate doctors believe that people with Lyme are at an increased risk for cancer. As it is, one in two men and one and three women in the United States will get cancer at some point during their lifetime, due to the plethora of toxins in the environment, which are responsible for over 75% of all cancers, according to American Medical Research LLC (AMR), a widely regarded medical research company.[i]  People with Lyme disease may be at an even greater risk, because Lyme disease damages cells, causes inflammation, influences hormone levels and creates increased levels of toxicity in the body, among other biochemical problems. These issues can lead to DNA and mitochondrial damage that are associated with cancer.

In addition to my work as a Lyme disease researcher, I have helped to write two cancer books involving 15 integrative doctors, and have interviewed over 50 integrative cancer doctors for a podcast series that I host for the Alternative Cancer Research Institute.  My work with many doctors has taught me that in today’s toxic world, everybody is susceptible to cancer, but perhaps especially those of us who are already battling chronic disease, so it makes good sense to take steps to prevent it. The good news is that it can often be prevented.

Many integrative oncologists, such as Robert Eslinger, DO, in my book, Defeat Cancer: 15 Doctors of Integrative and Naturopathic Medicine Tell You How contend that the following three conditions in the body can increase cancer risk. Dr. Eslinger calls them the “three I’s.”[ii] They are: Inflammation, Infections and Insulin (or high insulin). People with Lyme disease tend to have all three, which also provides evidence that people with Lyme may be more susceptible to cancer.

Many people with chronic Lyme disease already know that eliminating infections is the first crucial step toward wellness and toward preventing other illnesses, such as cancer. Antibiotic therapy is still considered to be the standard of care for eliminating infections, although many integrative doctors are now incorporating additional strategies, such as herbal remedies, ozone therapy and hyperbaric oxygen into their patients’ regimens. In cases of chronic Lyme disease, and according to ILADS doctors, at least six months of treatment, but more commonly, 2-3 years of treatment are needed to eliminate the pathogen load.

Many people with Lyme disease also have high levels of insulin and blood sugar regulation problems due to hormonal de-regulation, inflammation and other biochemical problems caused by Lyme disease. Nearly every Lyme-literate doctor that I have interviewed over the years has shared this fact, as well.  High insulin levels are exacerbated by a high-glycemic and carbohydrate-rich diet, so it makes sense that many Lyme-literate doctors also recommend a low-carb, moderate protein and high-fat diet.

Common dietary recommendations include healthy fats such as nuts, coconut oil, avocados and olive oil; low-glycemic fruits and vegetables, especially dark, leafy greens, and organic animal protein sources such as eggs, beef, turkey, ostrich, lamb, chicken; low-mercury fish such as wild salmon or sardines, and wild game meat. Keeping insulin levels down is crucial for preventing cancer and other conditions such as metabolic syndrome, and I have observed that many people with Lyme disease feel better when they keep the amount of carbohydrates that they consume in their diet to a minimum.  Some Lyme-literate doctors also believe that too many high-carbohydrate foods such as white rice and high-glycemic fruits can feed Borrelia and yeast infections, so they encourage their patients to minimize their consumption of these. Inflammation has been implicated in cancer as well as Lyme disease.

In fact, inflammation is the one factor that is common to all chronic health conditions. Most Lyme-literate doctors believe that reducing inflammation is therefore key for recovery from chronic Lyme disease. A variety of supplements have been found in studies to help accomplish this; things such as Vitamins C and D, turmeric, and omega-3 EFAs are among the most well studied. All of these are widely advocated among the integrative cancer doctors that I interviewed for Defeat Cancer because of the immense amount of research backing their effectiveness for cancer prevention and treatment. Lyme-literate doctors often advocate them for their Lyme patients, as well, to support immune function and reduce inflammation.

Finally, exercise has been shown in studies to reduce insulin resistance and combat inflammation, and may therefore also help to support immune function so that the body can not only more easily heal from Lyme, but also prevent cancer. Many people with Lyme disease struggle to exercise, but even 30 minutes of walking, 3-4 days per week, has been shown to lower insulin resistance. For example, one study, the results of which were published in August 2014 in the Global Journal of Health Science revealed that 30 minutes of walking, combined with stretching, lowered plasma glucose levels and insulin resistance in women with type 2 diabetes.[iii]

As a final note, people with Lyme disease often have compromised detoxification mechanisms, which means that their bodies are often overloaded with toxins. Toxicity has been linked to cancer, so people with Lyme may want to work with a Lyme-literate doctor who can help them to effectively remove environmental toxins, such as heavy metals, pesticides, plastics and other common contaminants from the body.  Some common detox strategies may include infrared sauna therapy, coffee enemas, intravenous Vitamin C and glutathione, and taking oral toxin binders such as EDTA, DMSA and chlorella. Indeed, many Lyme doctors have found detoxification therapy to be an important component of recovery from chronic Lyme disease for many of their patients.

[i] “The Cancer Cascade.” American Medical Research, LLC. (Oct. 2004)
[ii] Strasheim, C. (2011). Defeat Cancer: 15 Doctors of Integrative and Naturopathic Medicine Tell You How.  S. Lake Tahoe: BioMed Publishing Group.
[iii] Motahari-Tabari NAhmad Shirvani M1, Shirzad-E-Ahoodashty MYousefi-Abdolmaleki ETeimourzadeh M. The effect of 8 weeks aerobic exercise on insulin resistance in type 2 diabetes: a randomized clinical trial. Glob J Health Sci. (2014 Aug 14);7(1):115-21. doi: 10.5539/gjhs.v7n1p115.
___________________________________Connie Strasheim is the author of multiple wellness books, including three on Lyme disease. She is also a medical copywriter, editor and healing prayer minister. Her passion is to help people with complex chronic illnesses find freedom from disease and soul-spirit sickness using whole body medicine and prayer, and she collaborates with some of the world’s best integrative doctors to do this. In addition to Lyme disease, Connie’s books focus on cancer, nutrition, detoxification and spiritual healing. You can learn more about her work at:http://conniestrasheim.org/


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2 thoughts on “The Link Between Lyme Disease and Cancer”

  1. Zombie46 says:

    I have tested positive on the Eliza, Western blot and then also finaly at IGENEX for Lyme, however my Lyme will never be admitted because a couple of other Canadian tests were negative Three types of Lyme had been detected in the various tests – Afzelli, Garinii, and Burgdorferi. I once owned 6 cats who brought home ticks (and slept on the bed) so this was why I asked for the test. I also had low blood platelets.

    I also have sugar related problems. I came from a family of diabetics and have a macro adenoma which causes high prolactin (or is caused by it), so I have to take medicine to keep that down for life as well.

    I also have very painful severe arthritis in spine and knees, as well as breast cancer and metastatic cancer in the lymph nodes. Also suffer from chronic numerous precancerous skin conditions and melasma, which makes me more subject to melanoma than most. I am also now suffering from severe neurological pain and increasing difficulty walking.

    I definately believe there is a very strong relationship between Lyme and cancer, but since Lyme is recognized only by naturalists and cancer mainly by the standard medical field who will have nothing to do whatsoever with naturalists, I certainly don’t expect any cure; nor did I want treatment for metastatic cancer knowing doctors would probably remain ignorant about the connection between Lyme, cancers, and those with high prolactin for at least another 40 years. They will continue to deny Lyme forever, so obviously they cannot and will not make the association of this constant and severe inflammation with cancers either, nor will most recognize also the high association between pituitary tumours that produce high prolactin (which about one in six of us have) and breast and metastatic cancers.

    Gosh, I wish patients didn’t always have to be so many years ahead of doctors. So many of us are dying because they aren’t keeping up with the information and we are therefore being denied proper treatment. What’s the point of poisoning myself with chemo, radiation, and being cut to pieces, when they will never address the connections and therefore may never address the causes of cancer?

    I am currently trying DCA and so far this has made the swelling in my lymph glands go away but has not done anything in a couple of months yet for the size of the pituitary tumour.

    And yes, like so many of you who may be dying from something similar, I also received that dreaded polio shot in the 1950’s and early 60’s that contained the SV40 monkey virus. Worse yet, my blood was A negative, so I suspect the damage from those 40 different viruses may have been more severe than in those who had the Rhesus factor already in their blood.

  2. Sher says:

    I was diagnosed with Lyme based on the blood test and took three rounds of doxycyline. I was having a cough every morning and felt exhausted, and had lost some muscle tone. I was told that it was acid reflux and the muscle cramps were from the Lyme. When coronavirus hit, I was still coughing, so was sent for a scan, which showed advanced non small cell lung cancer. I remember thinking, when I first went about the cough, how inexpensive a chest xray would be. I wish I had followed my instincts and demanded one – even if I had to pay for it.

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