What Can You Tell Me About Cancer? (First Installment)
How can we protect ourselves from cancer when we’re not even sure what cancer is and how it develops in one person and not in another? How can cancer be caused by smoking when one person smokes a pack a day their whole life and never develops cancer, while another who has never smoked does? There are just so many unanswered questions and a lot of anxiety. So here’s a guide to a holistic view of cancer, much of which was actually practiced by doctors in the first half of the twentieth century. Many of my patients are scared to death of cancer. How can we protect ourselves from cancer when we’re not even sure what cancer is and how it develops in one person and not in another? How can cancer be caused by smoking when one person smokes a pack a day their whole life and never develops cancer, while another who has never smoked does? There are just so many unanswered questions and a lot of anxiety. So here’s a guide to a holistic view of cancer, much of which was actually practiced by doctors in the first half of the twentieth century.
Cancer is most simply tissue growth that is out of control. This is a situation where normal tissue growth has been replaced by abnormal and rapid growth of invasive or aggressive tissue. It’s like angel fish living in the same tank with piranhas. Throughout our life, there are many different problems that cause cells to mutate or change from their natural formation. Once these altered cells have matured and begun to function inappropriately, the body recognizes this and the immune system steps in to destroy the mutant cell. This mutation, as Darwin might have said, is our key to development of our species. It provides the ability to change and alter for adaptation and survival. It also provides a challenge periodically to the immune system, thus strengthening our body’s ability to protect itself against negative changes. In fact, this is happening in everyone’s body all the time. With the trillions of cells we have, it is inevitable that some will mutate or change.
However, if the immune system cannot perform its duties, perhaps because it is occupied in fighting off another body problem, or because it is being suppressed through antibiotic use, narcotic drugs, immuno-suppressants or even stress, then the mutant cells continue to grow into a tumor, which can move beyond the immune system’s ability to destroy it. Once it reaches a certain size, it can excrete chemicals to increase the growth of capillaries to bring it a constant source of blood. This is the idea behind anti-angiogenesis drugs which are designed to stop the development of blood channels to tumors.
Another interesting view of cancer is that cancerous tissue seems to lose its natural identity, it becomes almost a gelatinous mass with no distinct cellular markings. This seems to follow the Second Law of Thermodynamics, which states that energy tends to move towards a state of less organization. Evolution, however, seems to move in the opposite direction, against the force of energy. So it would seem that to move towards more organization requires will or energy, since it is essentially going against the current. So if a person loses their will and body energy, nature will take over and disorganization will occur. This can happen during severe stress, such as the loss of a loved one or the loss of a job. This body process is called entropy, a process which we strive to overcome every day of our lives. Once you lose the drive to improve, you are at the mercy of the entropy of nature.
Even more destructive are the masses of carcinogenic substances that have been absorbed over time by our bodies. Carcinogens within the body system only serve to enable the tumor to grow at a more rapid and invasive rate, even outpacing healthy and functioning immune systems. This is because toxic substances make it difficult for healthy cells to breathe, eat, excrete and reproduce. It is like many of the sci-fi movies where you put the animal in a toxic soup and out pops some mutant man-eating creature. We often forget that every single cell we have is alive in and of itself. We are housing trillions of tiny living beings inside our bodies. You could almost say we are a universe.
So toxic substances like tobacco, nicotine, caffeine, artificial hormones, steroids, non-organic chemicals are all capable of giving cancer the leg up on our body’s health. This process is even more common in aging bodies. Over time the immune system cells lose their memory of previous antigens [foreign elements] limiting immunity, and fewer immune cells are being made because of the degeneration over time of the thymus glandular tissue. The ability to recognize a problem becomes dulled. Thus a few rogue cells become a tumor that can threaten not only your body’s health, but also your very life.
But one theory by Dr. Royal Lee explains that there may be different types of disease development in the cancer family. Allergies, autoimmune conditions, weakened immunity all may lead to cancer, or become chronic conditions independently. The outcome is determined by the lifestyle and nutritional choices of each individual. In other words, the environment that you create inside your body is what determines how susceptible to cancer you are. We may not be able to control what happens outside our bodies such as environmental pollutants, life stresses, chemical exposure and even physical injuries. But we do have a say in what we put into our bodies and how we take care of them.
Stay tuned for the next installment of What Can You Tell Me About Cancer?