Using Light to Improve Long-term Health Following Cancer Treatments

We love to be in sunlight. From the invisible to the visible, sunlight is essential for both plant and animal life to exist on this planet. Sunlight nourishes plants by triggering photosynthesis, which powers plants to uptake carbon dioxide, water and nutrients to form the plant structures. Animals then survive from eating the plants.
 
A well known benefit of sunlight is its ability to boost the body’s vitamin-D production, and it is known that vitamin-D deficiency is mostly linked to a lack of sun exposure. Vitamin-D is necessary for calcium metabolism, neuromuscular and immune system functioning. Whereas skin cancer is associated with too much exposure of the ultraviolet spectrum of light, other cancers result from too little sunlight. People living at high latitudes have an increased risk of contracting Hodgkin lymphoma, as well as breast, ovarian, colon, pancreatic, prostate, and other cancers, compared with people living at low latitudes. A randomised clinical trial by Joan Lappe, a medical professor at Creighton University, published in the June 2007 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, confirmed that taking 2–4 times the daily dietary intake of 200–600 IU vitamin-D and calcium, resulted in a 50% to 77% reduction in the incidence of all cancers in post-menopausal women living in Nebraska, over a four-year period.

Moreover, although excessive sun exposure is thought to be an established risk factor for malignant melanomas, moderate sun exposure has also been linked with increased survival rates in patients with early-stage melanoma—reported by Marianne Berwick, an epidemiology professor at the University of New Mexico, in the February 2005 Journal of the National Cancer Institute. Interestingly, most melanomas occur on the least sun-exposed areas of the body, and it has been reported that occupational exposure to sunlight actually reduces melanoma risk, in a study reported in the June 2003 Journal of Investigative Dermatology.
 
An alternative to getting out in the sun, is to use a blue-light emitting diode (LEDs) lamp, to stimulate vitamin-D production, which then minimises any risks associated with ultra violet exposure. You can also use LEDs of different colours to improve your health. In recent years there has been growing interest in using LED light to increase plant growth rates, and it is now known that plant cells exposed to red-light LEDs will grow many times faster than plants in normal light. There is something in concentrated light from red LEDs that is really healthy for plants and animals.
 
The idea that concentrated light could be a therapeutic tool, first occurred in 1965, shortly after lasers were invented. In that year, Professor Endre Mester of Semmelweis University in Budapest, Hungary, undertook pioneering research to see if lasers could cause cancer. He shaved the hair off the backs of mice and treated them to long-term low-level-laser light, and not only did the mice not develop cancer, but to his surprise the hair on their backs grew back more quickly and more lush. Today professionals use low-level-laser light to heal wounds, give pain relief, reduce inflammation, perform cosmetic anti-aging treatments, and stimulate hair growth.
 
Low-level-laser light was the forerunner to the LED light. LEDs are now used in thousands of applications, from electronic clock displays to jumbo TV screens. LEDs now provide light to grow plants on the NASA Space Station and units are available at your supermarket, to increase growth in household pot plants. However more exciting are the findings that lasers and LEDs are useful in anticancer therapies (http://www.nasa.gov/centers/marshall/news/news/releases/2003/03-199.html).
 
The safe use of lasers in therapy, requires training, and they really are tools of health professionals. However, LED light technology can be used safely for personal use in the home. Most newly built houses and buildings now install LED downlights. Manufactured LED light-therapy units show the type of coloured light they emit by the LED wavelength—measured in nanometers (nm). The human eye sees different light wavelengths as colours. Visible light ranges from the violets at about 380 nm to the deepest reds at about 750 nm. There is also light that is invisible, such as infrared light greater than 750 nm, and ultraviolet light at less than 380 nm. While ultra violet light damages skin, on the other hand, the 640 to 670 nm red-LEDs, well outside the UV range, have the wonderful potential to heal the body, without any of the side effects of ultraviolet light.
 
Red spectrum LEDs have been shown to increase energy inside cells, through increased adenosine triphosphate (ATP) production. ATP transports chemical energy within cells for metabolism. Most cellular functions need energy to be carried out for the synthesis of proteins, to make membranes, to move cells, to divide cells, etc. ATP is the molecule that carries energy to the place where the energy is needed, and it is also a critical signalling molecule that allows cells and tissues throughout the body to communicate with one another in healing responses. Combining red-LEDs along with blue-LEDs (to increase vitamin-D production), gives a cheap and safe device to assist with health in general—and specifically for recovery from cancer after operations and chemotherapy.
 
Higher intensity LEDs (above 5 watts) will generate heat that can burn, if applied too close to the skin. Lower intensity units (less than 20 milliwatts) are better suited for personal and home use, as they are safer and can readily be used without medical supervision. Some companies making LED therapy devices, claim that the intensity of their light output is more powerful, and so are superior to those devices with lower intensity light output. However, since the intensity of light is an indicator of the dosage of light received per treatment, a lower intensity unit would just need to be applied longer than a higher intensity unit, in order to receive the same dosage of light—that’s all. Higher intensity red LEDs penetrate the furthest into the body. Light-stimulated healing continues for considerable time after the light has been removed, and it has been found that many ‘light sensitive regions’ of the body coincide with acupuncture points. One acupuncture point that I recommend should be lasered every day for people recovering from cancer, for about 30 minutes over 4 months, is Stomach 36.
 

LEDs are reported in the literature to:

• Increase blood capillary circulation and vascular activity by promoting improvement in the metabolism of nitric oxide for vasodilation and the formation of new capillaries, which in turn provides additional oxygen and nutrients to accelerate natural tissue healing.
• Stimulate fibroblastic activity, to promote wound healing through the increased formation of collagen fibres.
• Increase synthesis of adenosine triphosphate (ATP)—the energy source for muscle contraction and the metabolism of all cellular processes to sustain life.
• Relax muscles through reduced nerve excitement.
• Increase lymphatic drainage.
• Increase phagocytosis—the body’s natural process to remove dead and degenerated cells following infection.
• Increase RNA/DNA synthesis for cellular reproduction.
• Increase the production of endorphins and encephalin in the brain, which reduce the feelings of pain and improve mood.
• Reduce inflammation in arthritis, bursitis, and tendonitis.
As with any topic, there are lots of differing opinions out there. Mine are based on my clinical experience and my research on things what work in my clinics. From my experience I think LED Light Therapy has real potential for health, particularly for people recovering from cancer, but it’s really up to you to decide, and I respect your ability to do so. Do your homework, do research, read, ask questions. Seek out health practitioners you trust for their advice. The information I’ve brought together isn’t provided to diagnose, treat or cure your condition, and of course results can’t be guaranteed, because all of us are unique individuals and one size really doesn’t fit all.
If you are interested in my approach to Healing From Cancer, which incorporates light therapy, through my dedicated 4 month Program (which we can take you through remotely/on line) go here for information.