Retinoblastoma treatment herb, vitamin, supplement by Ray Sahelian, M.D.
February 10 2016

Retinoblastoma affects 1 in 15,000 children, causing about 3 percent of all cancers in children. This eye disorder forms when developing cells in the retina -- the eye's main light sensor -- go haywire and start reproducing out of control. The cancer usually develops in children under age 6 and kills within two to four years after diagnosis if not treated. If detected early and treated with a combination of chemotherapy agents or radiation, 90 to 95 percent of children live. But conventional treatment has significant side effects. Combination chemotherapy can cause hearing loss, kidney failure and leukemia. Radiation therapy, which is now less commonly used, disfigures the child. In children who have the cancer in only one eye, the eyeball is sometimes replaced with an implant.

Retinoblastoma is the most common malignant intraocular tumor of childhood. Treatment and diagnostic modalities associated to this condition are changing rapidly as our understanding of this condition crystallizes. Retinoblastoma is a malignant tumor and treatment should be started as soon as possible. Currently, the most common approach combines local therapy with chemotherapy.

Dietary influence on risk of retinoblastoma
Fruit and vegetable intake during pregnancy and risk for development of sporadic retinoblastoma.
Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2005. Department of Pediatrics, Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University, Room B106, 60 Haven Avenue, New York, New York, USA.
Little is known about the causes of sporadic (noninherited) retinoblastoma. Rates seem to be somewhat higher among poorer populations in Mexico. Fruits and vegetables are important sources of carotenoids and folate. We examined whether decreased gestational maternal intake of fruits and vegetables may contribute to development of sporadic retinoblastoma. At the Instituto Nacional de Pediatria in Mexico City, we conducted a hospital-based case-control study to evaluate prenatal maternal diet. We examined dietary intake of fruits and vegetables of mothers of 101 children with retinoblastoma and 172 control children using a dietary recall questionnaire and published food nutrient content tables. The reported number of mean daily servings of fruits and vegetables was lower among case mothers when compared with control mothers. Mean daily maternal folate intake from both vegetables and fruits was higher in controls than in cases. Risk for having a child with retinoblastoma was increased for mothers consuming fewer than 2 daily servings of vegetables or with a low intake of folate, or lutein, zeaxanthin derived from fruits and vegetables. Decreased intake of vegetables and fruits during pregnancy and the consequent decreased intake of nutrients such as folate and lutein/zeaxanthin, necessary for DNA methylation, synthesis, and retinal function, may increase risk for having a child with sporadic retinoblastoma.

Tree bark extract might help treat rare eye cancer
An extract from the bark of a South American tree might lead to better treatments for a rare but deadly childhood eye cancer called retinoblastoma. Dr. Joan O'Brien of the University of California, San Francisco wanted to see whether the tree bark extract beta-lapachone could cause the abnormal cells to commit suicide -- something it has been shown to do in a number of cancer types, including breast and prostate cells. They tested the extract in the laboratory and found that beta-lapachone significantly blocked rapid cell growth of human tumor cells and that low doses could cause damaged cells to kill themselves in a process called apoptosis, or programmed cell death. Writing in the journal Eye, the scientists said their findings support other studies of the extract in different human cancers and may lead to an effective treatment.