$3.85M Research Grant Combines Naturopathic and Conventional Medicine to Fight against Cancer

Posted on Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Ottawa researchers are receiving the largest-ever North American grant aimed at studying the effectiveness of combining naturopathic medicine with conventional medicine. The funding was announced today by the Ottawa Integrative Cancer Centre (OICC), an arm of the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine (CCNM), and the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute. 

The $3.85 million grant, provided by a private Canadian foundation that wishes to remain anonymous, will fund a project to develop and study the use of integrative treatments for esophageal, gastric and lung cancer patients who undergo surgery.

“This is an excellent opportunity for our top-notch researchers to demonstrate how innovation and cooperation can lead to improved overall health outcomes,” said Rona Ambrose, Federal Minister of Health. “The Canadian institutions involved in this research are world-class and we look forward to the results of the trial.”

Called the Thoracic Peri-Operative Integrative Surgical Care Evaluation (Thoracic POISE), the project has two goals: first, it will pioneer integrative care interventions, characterized by a variety of different therapeutic approaches, healthcare professionals and disciplines working together to achieve optimal health and patient outcomes, to be applied before and after cancer surgery. Second, it will fund a randomized controlled trial to evaluate whether the integrative care approach reduces adverse events and improves disease-free survival. A multi-centred network of Canadian thoracic surgery centres, in partnership with naturopathic doctors, will collaborate over the next 11 years in this 300-patient study.

“We have assembled an outstanding team of investigators that includes surgeons, oncologists, naturopathic doctors, PhD research specialists and a health economist,” said Dugald Seely, the project co-lead who is Executive Director of the OICC, Director of Research at CCNM, and affiliate investigator with the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute. “Lung cancer accounts for the highest incidence of cancer deaths in Canada and we know that more than half of all cancer patients use complementary therapies. This research will help determine when complementary care is appropriate and may potentially lead to enhanced standards of medical practice that can positively impact patients' lives.”

“This study is an innovative whole-person approach involving naturopathic medicine integrated with traditional care. It is more than a single intervention,” said project co-lead Dr. Andrew Seely, who is an associate professor at the University of Ottawa, Director of Research at the Division of Thoracic Surgery and an associate scientist at The Ottawa Hospital. “By using a well-designed, randomized controlled trial to assess multiple evidence-based interventions that are often found in real-life clinical practice, we hope to show that integrative cancer care improves two critical problems simultaneously, namely adverse events after surgery and long-term cancer outcomes.”

When Terry Vida was diagnosed with cancer, she worked with her medical and naturopathic doctors to explore ways to combine naturopathic treatments with conventional treatments such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy and surgery. Vida used supplements, acupuncture, exercise and nutrition in her bid to do everything possible to treat her cancer. "I have been cancer-free for two years now," said Vida, who is back at work as a partner with ConversArt Consulting and completing her PhD in human and organizational systems. “I feel as though this approach helped me a lot and it is through research such as this that we will really know."

Bob Bernhardt, President and CEO of CCNM added, “There is an absolute need for an enhanced evidence base for naturopathic medicine. The Thoracic POISE trial focuses on patient-centred research and is essential to proving the value of naturopathic medicine and assessing the role it could play in healthcare. CCNM and the OICC are committed to clinical research in areas where we believe naturopathic medicine could improve health outcomes for Canadians.”

Media Contacts:

Heidi Vincent, MBA
Public Relations
Ottawa Integrative Cancer Centre
hvincent@oicc.ca
613-293-3564

Paddy Moore
Communications and Public Relations
Ottawa Hospital Research Institute
padmoore@ohri.ca
613-737-8899  x73687
613-323-5680

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About the Ottawa Integrative Cancer Centre
The Ottawa Integrative Cancer Centre (OICC) is the first integrative cancer care and research centre in Central and Eastern Canada. As a not-for-profit, regional centre of the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine, the OICC welcomes patients at any cancer stage as well as those wishing to prevent cancer or its recurrence. The Centre works with patients and physicians to provide therapeutic programs that decrease side effects, promote health and improve quality of life during and after conventional treatment. Through clinical practice, research and education, the OICC strives to assess and reduce possible causes of cancer while exploring innovative integrative treatment approaches.  For more information, please visit www.oicc.ca

About the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute
The Ottawa Hospital Research Institute is the research arm of The Ottawa Hospital and is an affiliated institute of the University of Ottawa, closely associated with the university's faculties of Medicine and Health Sciences. It includes more than 1,700 scientists, clinical investigators, graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and staff conducting research to improve the understanding, prevention, diagnosis and treatment of human disease. For more information, please visit www.ohri.ca 

About the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine
The Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine (CCNM) is Canada's premier institute for education and research in naturopathic medicine. CCNM educates and trains naturopathic doctors through its rigorous four-year, full-time program. Naturopathic doctors are highly educated primary health care providers who integrate standard medical diagnostics with a broad range of natural therapies.

CCNM is also home to the Robert Schad Naturopathic Clinic, a dynamic naturopathic teaching clinic where senior clinicians and ND supervisors conduct more than 26,000 patient visits per year. For more information, please visit www.ccnm.edu 

About Naturopathic Medicine
Naturopathic medicine is a system of primary health care that promotes wellness and the prevention of illness and disease. It blends modern scientific knowledge with traditional and natural forms of medicine, and plays an important role in integrative health care. Naturopathic treatments can be used on their own or together with conventional medicine. 

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