Cancer Patients:

DID YOU KNOW A knowledge of Pharmacogenomics can improve your wellbeing, reduce side effects and even save or extend your one precious life?

DID YOU KNOW – the Grace Gawler Institute has successfully employed pharmacogenomic tests for many years. Originally done in the USA, now we refer our patients to a certified laboratory in Australia.

DID YOU KNOW that Iatrogenic Deaths are the 3rd highest cause of death after heart disease and cancer?  

This condition is caused by medical errors or adverse drug reactions (when drugs interact with each other) or when a single drug is inappropriate for a particular patient) – refer to Mayo Clinic video below…

The Conversation (Australia) puts it this way – “Hospitals are risky places; some more than others. One in four patients who stays overnight in hospital endures a complication.” Full Article


Most of these ‘complications’ can be prevented with Pharmacogenomic Tests?

EXAMPLE 1. A pharmacogenomic test can show if an individual will have a serious reaction to certain medical drugs, anaesthetics or complementary supplements. While undergoing treatment or surgery, without this knowledge, the patient may experience a complication or multiple complications or even death from such ‘unexpected’ reactions.

EXAMPLE 2. The PGx test can show suitability to radiation therapy or chemotherapy – for some patients these are not appropriate. (not effective and/or severe side effects)


Pharmacogenomics for Treatments:

Pharmacogenomics (PGx) is the analysis of how genes affect a person’s response to drugs.

This relatively new field combines pharmacology (the science of drugs) and genomics (the study of genes and their functions) to develop effective, safe medications and doses that will be tailored to a person’s genetic makeup.

As the picture above states – Pharmacogenomics is the breakthrough away from one size fits all medicine.

However; budget limitations means these tests are rare in Australian & New Zealand cancer hospitals.

Thus; we refer patients to a certified independent genomic testing laboratory (Australia) offering tests unavailable in our hospitals.

Summary: PGx is able to provide information about a patient’s genetic likelihood to respond to a given medication or risk of an adverse drug response (ADR).

Pharmacogenomics for Nutrition:

Similarly, your genes impact how you metabolise, what your body can do with diets, nutrition & supplements. You may have heard the saying: You are what you eat!

Put simply – pharmaco-genomics when applied to nutrition, would state: Yes, you are what you eat, but more accurately you are what your body can metabolise.  

People are different because of their genetic make-up. These differences are made up of variations in proteins inherited from their parental genes or developed through mutations. 

A food effect can be positive or negative, and it can be quite significant.

Generally, foods can either interfere with the body’s ability to absorb a medication, reducing the dose received, or they can increase absorption, which can improve availability of the drug or pose the risk of toxicity.

Following Video - A Mayo Clinic patient discusses the importance of Pharmacogenomic (PGx) testing for herself and 19 extended family members.

You may be surprised to know that the same is true for many natural health products & supplements.

Enter the Minefield of Interactions: 

When patients understand the importance & relevance of how their metabolism can influence treatment outcomes; they are more likely to keep their healing program simple!

Failure of pharmaceutical drugs to be effective as well as excess toxicity from taking a pharmaceutical drug may not be related to the drug type or dose – but to supplements that a patient is taking or cancer “cure” diets they are consuming.

This can be a significant stumbling block especially when patients either self-prescribe or take advice from naturopaths or health professionals who are not aware of the principle s of pharmacogenomics. 

Researchers have found that many phytochemical constituents in natural health products have the potential to significantly alter the bioavailability, absorption, distribution and excretion of prescription drugs in the same way as certain foods by interfering with drug-metabolizing enzyme systems.  

Enter the field of pharmacogenomics.

Pharmacogenomics, a science which explores people’s drug response based on their genetic make-up and lifestyle, offers clinical tests to identify many of the differences in each person’s cytochrome P450 enzymes, so that the correct drug, amount and frequency may be prescribed from the start for maximum beneficial effects with minimum side-effects.

Grapefruit juice (& its compounds) are among the most extensively studied foods and beverages for their effects on the metabolism and action of prescription drugs.

Recent research has found that other foods, including pomegranates, Seville oranges, black pepper, cranberry juice, grape juice, black tea, beer, cruciferous vegetables, kava, licorice root, wine, and olive oil, contain compounds that modulate P450 activity and can affect drug metabolism.

But these foods’ effects are far from uniform. Just as each individual has a unique fingerprint and DNA profile, each has a unique P450 profile.

So the effect these foods have on drug metabolism varies greatly among people. In fact, There is a 100-fold variation of P450 systems among individuals, and this impacts how they metabolize drugs.

If these differences occur in the enzymes (cytochromes P450) associated with drug absorption, metabolism and elimination, the person may eliminate a drug very quickly from the body, reducing its potency and thereby requiring larger doses for therapeutic effect.

Conversely, the drug may become more potent, requiring smaller doses to avoid side-effects.

Presently, many drugs are prescribed first, and their levels adjusted later following assessment of patient’s blood levels—which may take several days.

Sometimes this is trial and error; however, you can undergo pharmacogenomics tests to identify your metabolism speed and type. At worst, when unidentified; patients can experience severe and sometimes fatal reactions as well as interactions with other medications. 

Your take-away message: 

  1. Use of complementary and alternative medicines continues to increase around the world. Many have the ability to heal or harm – the ability to predict and ultimately avoid adverse reactions with these therapies takes on a new found significance and urgency.
  2. The safest way of knowing which drugs are likely to have metabolic interactions is to understand the principles behind the interactions.
  3. Drugs, nutrients and supplements which induce or inhibit the crucial enzymes of cytochrome P450 should ring alarm bells for patients and health professionals.
  4. Knowing about your functional metabolic pathways can be life-saving..( refer to video on this page).

Keep health restoration protocols simple to avoid complex medical drug/medical – drug/drug – food/supplement interactions. Know the PGx test is your best friend and can minimise risk of the problems highlighted on this page.