I’ve been asked to do some research on Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) as it relates to breast cancer but what I’ve been able to find is not particularly promising, at least as far as it relates to breast cancer.
What Is Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy?
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) involves the breathing of pure oxygen while you are in a sealed chamber designed to hold either a single person, or a group of up to 12, that has been pressurized at 1-1/2 to 3 times the normal atmospheric pressure. At the end of the session, which can last from 30-120 minutes, technicians slowly depressurize the chamber.
HBOT is the best treatment for decompression sickness — known as “the bends” — a very painful and potentially lethal condition that hits deep sea divers who come to the surface too quickly. HBOT also helps in cases of carbon monoxide poisoning, arterial gas embolism (bubbles of air in blood vessels), skin grafts and flaps that are not healing well with normal treatment, gas gangrene, soft tissue infections in which tissues are dying, crush injuries where there is not enough oxygen to the tissues, burns, delayed radiation injury, blockage of the retinal artery (blood vessel in the back of the eyeball), traumatic ischemia injuries like frostbite, and certain bone or brain infections.
You may recall that Michael Jackson was fond of sleeping in a hyperbaric oxygen chamber. I guess he didn’t have claustrophobia.
The Buzz Around Cancer Circles…
Why I have been asked to research HBOT is because there has been a bit of a buzz about HBOT in cancer circles. If you understand that cancer thrives in an anaerobic environment (meaning without oxygen) it only stands to reason that an oxygen-rich environment would stop or at least slow its growth. According to the American Cancer Society, “There is no evidence that HBOT cures cancer.” There is just currently no scientific evidence to support HBOT as a cure for cancer at this time, at least I wasn’t able to find any. If I’m wrong, I hope someone will set me straight.
By the way, are you aware that the FDA has Oxygen listed as a drug? So I guess we’re all guilty of taking drugs every time we take a deep breath in. Ridiculous…
The Research That Has Been Done On HBOT
As far as breast cancer is concerned, there is a 2011 study done by some researchers at the Department of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery, Maltepe University, Istanbul, Turkey that revealed the use of HBOT following irradiation could be an effective tool to reduce the “capsule reaction of the implanted area and the tissue damage seen in radiodermatitis.” The researchers postulated that since implant-based breast reconstruction has such a high rate of complications such as capsular contracture and poor aesthetic outcome, due to adjuvant radiotherapy, that HBOT could be of assistance. They only worked with 15 rats over a period of 9 weeks, but they did find that HBOT following the radiotherapy did reduce tissue damage. It remains to be seen whether it would be helpful for human patients who have had breast reconstruction, but it looks promising.
The most promising and heart-warming article I read was offered up by my own city’s paper, The Denver Post. It seems HBOT is being used with extremely good results for returning war veterans. I was distressed to learn that in 2012, we were losing an average of one soldier per day to suicide – more than to actual combat. So many are returning with traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) and their symptoms include headaches, memory loss, balance problems, and cognitive difficulties that can severely impact their quality of life. The Denver Post reported “While many mild TBIs self-heal, others result in chronic pain.” HBOT has been helping these veterans with TBIs, read the whole article here.
It appears that a lot more research needs to be done on Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy – at least at it relates to cancer – and anyone wanting to use it for healing from cancer would be well-advised to pair it with all treatments recommended by their medical practitioners, both conventional and alternative or complementary.
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