Medical Research

Role of non-invasive vagus nerve stimulation, TAVNS in cancer pathology and immunotherapy: Can this be a hidden treasure, especially for the elderly?

Kristen Sparrow • November 05, 2023


Some patients may be aware that I use TAVNS, or ear stimulation in the clinic in conjunction with acupuncture.  It’s a non-invasive means of stimulating the vagus nerve through a branch of the vagus in the ear.  The proof of the efficacy of TAVNS is getting more robust.  These authors from Hong Kong make a compelling case.

Cancer’s global impact on public health necessitates cost-effective treatments. Conventional therapies like chemotherapy often result in severe side effects. This article explores non-invasive vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) as an alternative approach. VNS reduces oxidative stress, inflammation, and enhances vagal activity, improving cell regulation and patient survival. It mitigates complications from cancer and its treatments, such as peripheral neuropathy and fatigue, enhancing quality of life. VNS is safe and cost-effective, making it a valuable option, particularly when combined with other therapies, to combat cancer effectively and improve patient outcomes.

Abdullahi A, Wong TWL, Ng SSM. Putative role of non-invasive vagus nerve stimulation in cancer pathology and immunotherapy: Can this be a hidden treasure, especially for the elderly? Cancer Med. 2023 Sep;12(18):19081-19090. doi: 10.1002/cam4.6466. Epub 2023 Aug 17. PMID: 37587897; PMCID: PMC10557911.

Cancer is a global public health concern due to its high prevalence and its association with significant morbidity and mortality. Cost-effective treatments for cancer are crucial to mitigate its adverse impact on health. However, conventional therapeutic options like chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and surgery can lead to severe side effects, including nausea, vomiting, fatigue, and peripheral neuropathy, particularly when administered over the long term. These treatments may also pose challenges for elderly patients, especially those who are frail.

This article discusses an alternative therapeutic approach known as non-invasive vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) and its role in cancer pathology and immunotherapy. VNS exerts its effects through several mechanisms. Firstly, it reduces oxidative stress by activating silent information regulator 1 (SIRT1). Secondly, it inhibits inflammation by affecting the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis and promoting the release of corticosteroids from the adrenal gland. Additionally, it engages the cholinergic anti-inflammatory pathway (CAP). Moreover, VNS enhances vagal activity, contributing to the regulation of crucial cellular processes such as proliferation, differentiation, apoptosis, and metabolism, ultimately improving the chances of survival.

Non-invasive VNS has shown promise in reducing complications associated with cancer and its treatments. It can alleviate postoperative ileus and mitigate the severity of peripheral neuropathy induced by chemotherapy. Furthermore, VNS has a positive impact on cancer-related fatigue, lymphopenia, and overall quality of life for cancer patients. These findings underscore the significance of non-invasive VNS in the context of cancer pathology and immunotherapy.

One notable advantage of non-invasive VNS is its safety profile, making it a viable therapeutic option for cancer patients, including those who may not tolerate traditional treatments well. Additionally, its cost-effectiveness further supports its consideration as part of a comprehensive treatment approach. Combining non-invasive VNS with other therapies may yield synergistic benefits, enhancing the overall effectiveness of cancer treatment.

In summary, non-invasive vagus nerve stimulation holds promise as an alternative therapeutic option in the management of cancer. Its multifaceted effects on oxidative stress, inflammation, and cellular regulation make it a valuable addition to the arsenal of cancer treatments. Given its safety and cost-effectiveness, non-invasive VNS warrants consideration, particularly when used in combination with existing therapeutic modalities, to improve the outcomes and quality of life for cancer patients.

The capacity to convey information for cell growth and increase its number for a long time is caused by oxidative stress, avoidance of genes that forcibly put an end to cell development and growth, enabling unlimited replication of cells and formation of new blood vessels are contributed by inflammation, and invasion and migration to other cells and tissues is caused by inflammation and increased, and uncontrolled activity of the sympathetic nervous system.