Why are so many cancer patients needlessly dying of blood clots?


Clot busters
photo credit: GNC Live Well Philippines

Please read this article in the Daily Mail (a UK newspaper) about a West End star, who had cancer.  The irony was that she died very suddenly, not from the cancer itself, but from a condition that was preventable:  blood clots.

(many thanks to the family of Sophiya Haque for allowing her case history and celebrity status to be used in publicising this condition.)

The little known fact is:  anyone with cancer has blood that is stickier.

Apparently, tumours produce molecules called proagulants that make the blood clump together more readily.

I know you may be thinking:  “what a lot of fuss over nothing” or “it will never happen to me” or “if it’s such a big deal, how come my GP or oncologist has never mentioned it to me?”

Much ado about nothing?  Unfortunately, death by pulmonary embolism (blood clot in the lung) is not a pleasant process, and many patients take up to two hours to die and suffer fever and inability to breathe.

Chances of it happening to you?  Well, apparently cancer patients have a 7 (and in some cases up to 28) times greater chance of developing blood clots.  Chemotherapy also interferes with the body’s ability to deal with blood clots.

“Shocking figures from the charity Lifeblood show that for every seven cancer patients who die in hospital, one will succumb not to the disease itself, but to pulmonary embolism, one of the main causes of death linked to blood clots.”

And this knowledge is still not part of common practice.  According to the article:

“A 2003 survey found 80 per cent of oncologists were not taking any measures — such as giving the blood-thinning drug heparin — to counter clots.”

I know it’s not something most GPs would prescribe for cancer as it’s off-label use.

Sticky blood can be diluted, by using a form of Heparin (a blood thinner), called Clexane.

When I was at Hallwang, I got given Clexane injections the day before, and just prior to any travel/journey that required being immobile for more than 3 hours.  This included car journeys.

I thought the clinic were over-medicating and being over-cautious, but their caution was borne from painful experience:  the clinic had had patients who successfully completed a course of treatment, and flown home, only to suffer from blood clots and die.

If you have cancer and are unable to move much (e.g. bed bound) please ask your GP for Clexane.  It is self-injectable, into a fold on the tummy.

If you are having surgery, please ask your doctor/surgeon to administer Clexane for as long as you are not up and moving.

If you have cancer and don’t have access to Clexane, what can you do?

  • eat tomatoes.  Tomatoes that have been cooked contain the highest levels of lycopene, an antioxidant, that help to prevent blood clots


The therapeutic dose is 10,000 micrograms, but don’t try taking the supplement because it may not give you all the other synergistic phytochemicals and compounds in the actual fruit.  It is best to consume the whole food.

Other foods containing lycopene include watermelon and grapefruit.

Top lycopene-containing foods


Micrograms of lycopene

½ cup canned tomato puree


1 cup canned tomato juice


1 wedge of raw watermelon


½ cup ready-to-serve marinara sauce


1 tablespoon canned tomato paste


1 tablespoon catsup


½ pink or red grapefruit


1 tablespoon salsa


One sun-dried tomato


One slice of raw tomato


One cherry tomato


 Source: USDA National Nutrient Database

Also eat these other clot-busting foods:

  • garlic
  • ginger
  • fish oils
  • onions
  • turmeric
  • cinnamon
  • any food containing salicylates (which is found in aspirin) e.g fruits and veg like strawberries