Optimizing your body terrain at a glance
Your body terrain is the state of your inner environment. It includes your nutritional status, metabolism, immune function, microbiomethe collection of microbes living on and within your body, environmental exposures, and other factors. You can think of your terrain as your garden. The minerals, microorganisms, water, and other aspects of soil can promote healthy growth and bountiful outputs, or they can get in the way of healthy growth. Your inner body terrain can similarly promote healthy cell and organ function—or it can favor the unwanted “weeds” of cancer.
Your body terrain can directly affect your tumor’s microenvironment—the noncancerous cells and tissues and their processes that directly interact with your tumor. Your tumor can change its own microenvironment, and its microenvironment can affect how a tumor grows and spreads.
We focus on eight terrain factors with known links to cancer development, growth, and spread:
- Bleeding and coagulation imbalance
- Blood sugar and insulin resistance*
- Body weight
- Hormone imbalance
- Immune function
- Your microbiome*
*Full handbooks on these terrain factors are in final review. Look for them soon!
See What is my body terrain, and why is it important? › for descriptions of these terrain factors.
Other attributes such as body weight and practices such as smoking are linked to many of these terrain factors and to cancer development and outcomes. We discuss these in this handbook.
If you suspect you have a terrain imbalance or simply want to learn more about your status, ask your medical professional (oncologist or primary care practitioner) to order tests. Blood tests, urinalysis, or other tests can find imbalances. Integrative physician and CancerChoices advisor Keith Block, MD, lists tests for detecting specific terrain imbalances and how to partner with your physician to find and manage these imbalances.1Block KI. Life over Cancer: The Block Center Program for Integrative Cancer Treatment. New York: Bantam Dell. 2009. Chapters 13–19.
Functional medicine physicians, naturopathic physicians, or other physicians who specialize in assessing and treating imbalances, may also be helpful. We provide guidance on finding these professionals
You can actively improve your body terrain through self carelifestyle actions and behaviors that may impact cancer outcomes; examples include eating health-promoting foods, limiting alcohol, increasing physical activity, and managing stress—healthy habits, 7 Healing Practices—and complementaryin cancer care, complementary care involves the use of therapies intended to enhance or add to standard conventional treatments; examples include supplements, mind-body approaches such as yoga or psychosocial therapy, and acupuncture care such as natural products or mind-body therapies. Your oncology team may also use some conventionalthe cancer care offered by conventionally trained physicians and most hospitals; examples are chemotherapy, surgery, and radiotherapy therapies to enhance your body terrain and make your tumor microenvironment less welcoming and supportive—in short, less hospitable—to cancer. You’ll find entry points for all these options below.
By itself, optimizing your body terrain is not enough to control or cure cancer. But it’s an important complement to conventional treatments, extending the benefits of those treatments by reducing your risk of recurrence and improving your overall health.
Keep reading about optimizing your body terrain
|1||Block KI. Life over Cancer: The Block Center Program for Integrative Cancer Treatment. New York: Bantam Dell. 2009. Chapters 13–19.|