You've likely heard about the opioid crisis in this country. Unfortunately, one of the populations being caught in this web of dependency is a group that's already endured quite a lot when it comes to their health: cancer patients. New research has revealed startling information about cancer patients' likelihood of developing opioid dependence after surgery.
Many doctors assume that the likelihood of opioid dependence after surgery is very small. But research conducted at the University of Michigan and published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology indicates that this isn't the case. For this study, the researchers identified nearly 40,000 cancer patients who had received opioid prescriptions following surgery intended to eradicate the cancer. Doctors generally expect patients to take these drugs for no more than two weeks after surgery. But the study found that three months after surgery, 10% of the patients were continuing to take high levels of opioids. Those who received chemotherapy after the surgery had an even greater risk, with 15% to 21% continuing to take high doses longer than recommended.
The research team is working with doctors to educate them about the risk, encouraging them to prescribe lower amounts of the drugs and teach their patients about how to manage their prescriptions appropriately. Patients need to know that these drugs should be a last resort, not their go-to pain-management technique. While doctors don't want to leave their patients in pain after surgery, an opioid dependence is far worse.
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Patients are also more likely to experience opioid dependence when their surgeries have complications that leave them with more pain than expected. So it's wise to take steps to prepare your body for surgery to minimize your risk of such complications. I've written in detail before about the preconditioning protocol I recommend to all my patients, so you can check the archives if you want more information and also read my new book The Ozone Miracle (available at Amazon). It has a whole chapter on preconditioning. But it boils down to this: you need to receive ozone therapy prior to your surgery. Many studies have shown that it improves surgical outcomes and reduces complications. All of this will decrease the level of pain you have to manage after surgery.
I recommend a process called major auto-hemotherapy (MAH) twice a week for three weeks before and after the surgery. You can find a doctor trained in MAH by visiting the website for the American Academy of Ozonotherapy, www.aaot.us. If there isn't an MAH-trained doctor near you, don't despair. It's possible to get your own ozone machine and precondition yourself at home. Again, this and many other ways to use ozone therapy at home are covered in The Ozone Miracle. It's easy and great for your body. I do it regularly even though I don't plan to have any surgeries if I can help it. But I definitely don't want to need a prolonged opioid regimen to get me through the pain if I do need surgery. I'm confident that this will help.
Yours for better health,
Frank Shallenberger, MD