$3.85M research grant links naturopathic and conventional medicine in fight against cancer

Largest research grant for naturopathic medicine awarded to two Ottawa-based institutions

OTTAWA, October 21, 2014 – Ottawa researchers are receiving the largest-ever North American grant intended to study the effectiveness of naturopathic medicine used in combination 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 will 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’s goals are twofold. First, it will pioneer integrative care interventions (characterized by different therapeutic approaches, health-care professionals and disciplines working together to achieve optimal health and patient outcomes) to use before and after cancer surgery. Second, it will fund a randomized controlled trial to evaluate if 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, project co-lead, Executive Director OICC, Director of Research 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, an associate scientist at The Ottawa Hospital, director of research for its Division of Thoracic Surgery and an associate professor at the University of Ottawa. “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 of chemotherapy, radiation and surgery. Vida used supplements, acupuncture, exercise and nutrition in her bid to do everything possible to deal with 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 and assessing the role that naturopathic medicine could play in health care. CCNM and the OICC are committed to clinical research in areas where we believe naturopathic Canadians.”


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