Dr. Heather Paulson is a board-certified Naturopathic Oncologist, Teacher, Best Selling Author, and Speaker. After experiencing cancer with loved ones, Dr. Paulson left her marine biology career for medical school. Dr. Paulson works with people undergoing cancer treatment of radiation, surgery, chemotherapy and helps them integrate natural remedies to reduce side effects and risk of recurrence. She also works with cancer survivors allowing them to discover their zest for life to feel like themselves again. Dr. Heather Paulson is the Author of the best-selling book ‘Cancer Proof: 7 Natural Ways to Live Cancer Free.’
- You’ve had personal experience with cancer, right? Would you mind telling us a little bit about your story, and how this led to your choice of specialty? She was a marine biologist ? that was her dream growing up. She wanted to study whales. She got to do that dream. But while she was pursuing that, her dad was dx with colon cancer in her first year of undergraduate studies. At that time, they asked his doctors if there was something else he was doing. They kept wondering if diet should play a role, and they said eat whatever you want. She also did all the pre-med courses, so she spent a lot of time in the biology library, doing research on colon cancer. She was doing habitat restoration in a redwood forest N of San Francisco. Usually you pull out non-native plants bc that changes the pH of the soil. If the pH of the stream changes, the salmon can’t survive there. The salmon were also changing sex bc of all the drugs we’re flushing. When we look at cancer, we’re trying to pull out a non-native species or weed, and it’s changing the pH of the soil, changing the way the system responds, increasing inflammation, etc. The approach with cancer: you pluck the weed and don’t do anything different. It made sense to her that if we want new plants to grow in the redwood forest, they had to change the local environment for the plant to survive. So she switched careers. Her first year of medical school, her husband was dx with lymphoma. She just had no choice: she had to specialize in cancer. She can relate to her patients.
- I know this is a loaded question, but why do you believe cancer is so prevalent in our Western society? Cancer is in one of four women and one in three men. We’re living longer, so that’s part of it, though we are seeing shortening life spans for kids. There are a few things that come from getting older: abnormal cell growth. The older you are, statistically, the higher the chances are for cells to not put themselves back together. But the environmental factor is huge: there are so many chemicals in the US that we deem acceptable that have been banned in almost all other advanced and Westernized countries. We live in a toxic soup. Our food supply is living and growing in toxic soil: genetically modified, previously dumping chemicals, etc. That can seem overwhelming, but as we get wiser as consumers, companies make things differently. It used to be hard to find organic food, and now you can get it at Walmart and Costco. As consumers, we can also ask companies to eliminate certain chemicals and fragrances from our body products. Johnson and Johnson had heavy metals in their baby shampoo: within 2-3 weeks of their petition, they re-formulated it.
- Your book, “Cancer Proof” discusses natural ways to live cancer-free. Can you give us an elevator pitch for the book? She tries to simplify things: when it comes to cancer, it can get really complicated and can get into a lot of conspiracy theories. She tries to ground it, in general information that anyone can apply to their lives. She tries to make it simple. The main things we look at in this: look at certain labs and genetic markers, such as how your body processes env’t toxins, estrogens, etc. Another step is eating the right diet: she goes through the most common cancer diets out there, and she lists the pros and cons of each one, and which cancer type might respond to those the best. She also likes to look outside the biology of our bodies, because she’s noticed that there is another piece that often gets missed that has to do with the mental/emotional state, the spiritual practices, etc. She has a chapter on forgiveness. And she couldn’t leave it without some detoxification tips, some of the most common chemicals, swapping out some toxins for things that are less toxic. Goes through layers of healing, to not just focus on supplements and DNA but also looking at home, spiritual practices, etc. Then she has a chapter on what happens if none of these things are working. She’ll have some people come in at Stage 4, and she addresses that as well. She talks more about our journey outside our physical body, but our journey as a soul. That was underappreciated when her dad was dying of cancer. Nobody talked about his health through the dying time.
- What are some supplements you would consider for someone with a strong family history of cancer? One of her favorites is Vitamin D. The research shows that when people have adequate levels of Vitamin D, even before they’re diagnosed with cancer, they’re more likely to have good results from cancer treatments. Best case scenario, it’s been shown to normalize DNA replication and reduce risk. It is a supplement that’s everywhere. Curcumin and turmeric is also important for people with a family predisposition to BRCA 1/2 (breast and ovarian and maybe prostate cancer), and also some of the genetic predisposition to colon and pancreatic. Curcumin tends to block those DNA changes. She loves to have people have this on board. Mushrooms are also a piece of this puzzle but some people have fungal sensitivity, so that might not be the best. Withania is another one for this.
- What are your thoughts on hormone therapy for cancer prevention? This is a hot button topic right now. Because she treats people who have cancer, she stays away from HRT in her practice. We can help people who have symptoms from low hormones with other things besides HRT. So usually she starts there, with botanicals and vitamins to shift their hormones. When she was doing more primary care, most patients would respond to hormone modulation with herbs really well. She didn’t have to prescribe HRT very often. She has people start there, bc it’s easier to wean off of the herbs than it is on HRT. In terms of prevention: there are mixed results out there for progesterone preventing breast cancer, and estrogen by itself will increase the risk of cancer. Always have it balanced out. If you’re worried about a risk of a hormone sensitive cancer (even colon cancer can be turned on by estrogen), work with someone who is skilled in doing this without HRT.
- You’ve recently launched a cleanse protocol online, right? Can you describe what all is included in your online cleanse, and who would be the best fit to join? She’s developed this for people post-chemo. This helps with detoxing from those treatments, but it’s also really good for cancer prevention, because it’s focused on helping the liver process environmental toxins better. It’s not the kind you’d get from the health food store; this focuses more on helping the liver cope with whatever kind of toxins are floating around in the system. They have a full diet plan with it: 21 days of different recipes, and it comes with similar ideas on cancer proof: going room to room to reduce toxic load. A few times per year they do it live, so people can join the live group. They have group calls and a private group. You can check it out here.
- Anything else you want to share with our audience? In addition to Cancer Proof, she has a free program that walks through the five things people need to address to reduce the risk of recurrence: it’s called The Great Life. The one thing we haven’t addressed is exercise. That’s super important when it comes to cancer risk. If that was a drug, pill, or supplement, it would be the #1 cancer drug on the market. It reduces risk of cancer and risk of recurrence. Circulating tumor cells (little mini tumors) are spliced when we exercise because of how fast the blood pumps through our vessels. The effect lasts 48-72 hours. The studies have looked at 170 minutes as the magic number for exercise. Doesn’t matter if it’s all in one day or if you break it up over several days.