What Is Cancer, Anyway?
Cancer is not some foreign invader which has to be cut, burned
or poisoned in hopes that it will die before the patient dies.
No, cancer is simply a temporoary malfunction in your normal
cell division process.
Each of has about 75 trillion cells in our body. Virtually all
of them replace themselves many times during our lifetimes. How
many cells? Well, it's 75,000,000,000,000. That's a lot. They
have various life cycles, but in about 7 years, they have all
been regenerated. Amazing? I'll say!
So, on an average day, about 29 billion cells in your body
replace themselves by dividing in two. One of the cells
resulting from that division dies off.
CELL DAMAGE OR "MUTATION"
In our bodies all day every day are lots of "free radicals."
These little rascals are molecules which have one unpaired
oxygen electron in their atomic makeup. They are produced by our
digestive system, the air we breathe, the food we eat, the water
we drink and so on. In other words, we can't avoid them.
These "free radicals" bounce around, bumping into normal cells,
and, in the process, damaging the normal cells DNA. Literally
millions of our dividing cells get damaged every day -- some by
free radicals, some by viruses and some by just normal cell
breakdown due to aging or inherited gene mutation (this latter
is rare). Fortunately, our cell division policing process
recognizes these "incorrect" cell divisions and kills them off,
most of the time.
HOW WE "GET" CANCER
About a million or so of the damaged cells each day are damaged
in such a way that the "oncogenes," the hundred or so genes (out
of the 33,000 or so in each cell's DNA) which control cell
death, get damaged. When this happens, the cell begins to grow
out of control. It becomes a cancer cell. Our immune system
(about 20 trillion cells strong) normally recognizes this and
takes care of it every day, until it can't anymore. Then, we
Actually, all of us "have" cancer every day. It is controlled
and gives us no symptoms. When symptoms (a tumor, for example)
show up, it means that our metabolism (cell division and cell
death)has temporarily broken down. A tumor with a billion cells
is about the size of the period at the end of this sentence. By
the time a tumor is diagnosed, it has usually been growing for
from 5 to 12 years. Far from a death sentence or something
requiring instant, emergency, radical treatment, this "getting"
cancer is a wakeup call.
The key to understanding and controlling cancer is that it is a
"systemic" problem. Our entire system has broken down. Killing
the cancer cells (with chemotherapy and radiation, for example)
is not going to restore our system to its normal balance. In
fact, those "treatments" simply make the condition worse by
severely damaging what is left of our immune system.
Once one understands this, our current conventional cancer
treat- ment system makes no sense.
WHAT DO ONCOLOGISTS DO?
An "oncologist" is supposed to be a cancer doctor. But their
training and practice does not include studying and
understanding the cancer cell and its relationship to the rest
of the body's cellular mechanics and communication. Cellular
biology is a very complex and fascinating body of knowledge
which is growing rapidly.
If the oncologist understood the above, they would be looking
for a way to reverse that cell physiology gently and in a
non-toxic way (assuming they were honest and open-minded). That
is how cancer is brought back under control -- gently and
One M.D. who has "broken the mold" and treats cancer in a gentle
and understanding way says that the docs calling themselves
"oncologists" are actually "chemotherapists," not oncologists.
Radiologists attempt to deal with cancer using radiation. This
always has harmful effects on our body's ability to control our
health -- our immune system.
"BUT I KNOW SOMEBODY WHO WAS CURED..."
All of us have heard of people who have been "cured" of their
cancer using chemotherapy. Remember Lance Armstrong? The chemo-
therapy poster boy? It so happened that Lance had one of the few
rare cancers (testicular cancer) which can be effectively con-
trolled using chemotherapy.
In October, 1971, Dr. Gordon Zubrod, a leading researcher at the
National Cancer Institute, presented a list of the cancer malig-
nancies which were "highly responsive" to chemotherapy. All of
these are rare in adults. But, most important, the list has not
changed since 1971. Here it is:
Burkitt's lymphoma; Choriocarcinoma; Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia;
Hodgkin's Disease; Lymphosarcoma; Embryonal Testicular Cancer;
Wilms' Tumor; Ewing's Sarcoma; Rhabdomyosarcoma; Retinoblastoma.
That's it. In the 33 years since that list was published, there
is no solid evidence that chemotherapy for the other, more
common, cancers results in significant increased survival.
One of my daughters was cured of Wilms' Tumor, a rare kidney
tumor, when she was three using chemotherapy. But for all the
other common forms of cancer (breast, colon, prostate, lung,
ovarian, etc.) chemo may show a temporary shrinking of the
tumor, what the cancer docs call a "response." Most of the time,
the chemotherapy treatment eventually kills the patient. It
killed my former wife ten years ago.
WHAT DOES CHEMOTHERAPY DO?
Chemotherapy targets dividing cells. The multitude of tests of
new chemotherapy drugs test toxic (actually carcinogenic, or
cancer- causing) substances against particular kinds of cancer
cells in live patients. Usually this is done with half the
cancer patients in the test taking an older chemotherapy drug.
When there is even slightly more "response" with the new drug,
and over 50% of the test group on the new drug survives, a new
cancer drug is approved.
Unfortunately, no cancer drug has "eyes" for only cancer cells.
These drugs kill any dividing cell. Where are some of your
fastest dividing cells? In your hair and your gut. That's why
chemotherapy causes you to lose your hair and get nauseous. But
these drugs also cause long-term damage to your organs --
kidneys, liver, heart, etc.
Doesn't it seem like there should be a better way? There is.
More coming soon in another article.
I am a "reporter," not a medical professional. Any treatment for
cancer or any other illness should be discussed with your