How do we know what supplements to take? Certain supplements have anti-cancer properties, but there is no one-size-fits-all supplement plan. Since no two people are alike, it is critically important to be supervised by a certified nutritionist, a naturopath or an integrative doctor.
These heath-care specialists are specially trained in prescribing general and preventative levels of appropriate vitamins and minerals. They often will begin by ordering lab tests to detect deficiencies needing correction. The key tests that your physician can order for you include blood, hormone, stool, and gene. Some of these tests can be ordered by your primary care physician, while others may only be available at an integrative or naturopathic doctor’s office. Below are some typical tests you may want to consider.
• Regular Blood Test
Your primary care physician can order basic blood tests such as a Comprehensive Metabolic Panel (CMP) and a Complete Blood Count (CBC). A CMP checks your body’s chemical balance and metabolism. This tests your blood sugar, cholesterol, calcium, electrolyte and protein levels. A CBC checks hemoglobin, hematocrit, red blood cells (RBC), white blood cells (WBC), and platelets. Sometimes, a physician can include other elements as well, such as vitamin D3, B12, etc…From a cancer prevention perspective, you definitely would want to find out your vitamin D3 level, so make sure to request that from your physician.
• Nutritional Blood Test
An integrative doctor can order a micro nutrient blood test which finds vitamin, mineral, amino acid, antioxidant, carbohydrate metabolism, fatty acid and metabolite deficiencies. Use Spectra Cell Lab’s website to find a clinician near you.
• Iodine Deficiency Tests
Dr. Marcelle Pick offers a simple home alternative for iodine testing using inexpensive iodine from any drugstore. Life Extension also offers a more accurate 24-hour urine iodine/iodide loading test that you or your health care provider can order.
• Stool Analysis Test
Your primary care physician or integrative doctor can also order a stool analysis test to check the overall health of your GI tract for signs of inflammation and whether there are enough good bacteria to promote good digestion. Use Genova Diagnostics website to find a clinician near you.
• Hair Mineral Analysis
A naturopathic or integrative doctor can also do a hair analysis to check levels of such minerals as magnesium, calcium, mercury and aluminum. However, according to WebMD, “any hair analysis to detect the presence or absence of minerals, nutrients, or toxic metals in the body should be confirmed by testing blood and urine samples.”
• Hormone Tests
Many physicians believe blood (serum) tests are more reliable for most hormones. Check out Dr. Julie Chen’s comments in the Huffington Post to see why. Your primary care physician can order this blood test to check your hormone levels. However, other physicians like Dr. John Lee believe a saliva test is more useful because it measures bioavailable hormone levels. An integrative doctor can order a saliva test for you. Check out ZRT Lab website to find a clinician near you.
• Estrogen Metabolite Index (EMI)test
Estrogen can be broken down into both potentially carcinogenic and non-carcinogenic metabolites. An integrative doctor may recommend an estrogen metabolite index (EMI) test to measure the ratio of non-carcinogenic (2OH) metabolites to potentially carcinogenic (16OH) metabolites. Ideally this ratio, from a blood test or 24 hour urine test, should be >2 for premenopausal and >1.7 for postmenopausal women.
• Estrogen Quotient (EQ) Test
Studies have shown women with breast cancer have lower estriol levels, which is just one of the three types of estrogen. An integrative doctor can do a 24 hour urine test to find your estrogen quotient (EQ). This ratio is estriol/estrone plus estradiol. Your estrogen quotient is a good predictor of breast cancer according to a 1966 JAMA article by Dr. Henry Lemon.
• PH and Free Radical Test
A PH urine or saliva test to determine whether you are alkaline or acidic can be ordered by a naturopath or ordered online. This youtube video explains how and when to use the test strips.
An inexpensive free radical test can determine your free radical levels. If these levels are high, Web MD explains how free radicals can cause cell damage and disease and offers dietary and supplement suggestions for raising antioxident levels to combat these excess free radicals.
• Gene Test (MTHFR)
MTHFR test is a specific blood test that can be ordered by your integrative doctor. A recent study showed the MTHFR 677TT genotype is associated with a moderate increase in risk of postmenopausal breast cancer. However, Dr. Charis Eng from the Cleveland Clinic called the MTHFR genetic unnecessary. Instead, she recommends simply checking the levels of homocysteine in the blood as a cheaper and more accurate way to test for whether MTHFR variations are causing disease.
With so many lab tests available, it is critical to partner with a good integrative health professional to customize and minimize the cost of finding any deficiencies you might have. Check the Innovative Doctors finder on the Life Extension website to locate one in your area.