The Similarity Between Cancer and Wounds
The idea that wound healing is related to cancer goes back to the mid-1800’s, when Rudolph Virchow noticed that cancers often show up at the sites of old wounds, and proposed that cancer might result from chronic irritation. This chronic ‘inflammatory factor’ could possibly be the root cause in very early cancer growth. Now researchers are exploring the possibility that mutation and inflammation are mutually reinforcing processes that, left unchecked, can transform normal cells into potentially deadly tumors.
It has been observed that wound healing and cancer progression had some similarities, including the growth of new blood vessels, rearrangement of the molecular matrix around the cells and changes in how cells attach to each other. Wound healing is a process that allows cells to break normal constraints on their growth and cross boundaries. If any cell can access that ‘program’, that’s not so good for the body because this can be a beneficial environment for cancer.
The interaction between the immune system and cancer is a complicated and puzzling one. On the one hand, there’s evidence that the immune system can help to get rid of tumors. On the other hand, there’s also growing evidence that an inflammatory environment is important for tumor survival and metastasis.
Note that acute inflammation is a tool for healing used by the body to decrease the body’s chances for harm due to pathogens, damaged cells or irritants. Through the inflammatory pathway, the immune system both attacks and helps (unfortunately) early tumors.
It appears that these ‘irritated cells’ send out signals in much the same way that wounded tissue does, leading to infiltration by certain white blood cells that attempt to kill the transformed cells; but this attack is usually insufficient to ‘heal’ the wound, leading to a chronic inflammatory state that seems to help the tumor grow. To the immune system, cancer cells looks very much like a wound that needs to be fixed. However, when immune cells get called in, they bring growth factors and a whole slew of proteins and other components of inflammation. The intention is of course, to heal. However, instead of healing, the cancer cells are inadvertently helped to survive and grow.
Cancer is A Great Pretender
At the heart of the immune response is the ability to distinguish between ‘self’ and ‘non-self.’ Normally your immune cells do not attack your own body tissues, which all carry the same pattern of self-markers; here’s the kicker – the cancer cells disguise their own tribe as ‘self’ — they grow and can avoid detection by the body because they were once part of the body. In many ways they are like vampires, cunning and feeding off the cells they used to be like before they ‘turned’, becoming voracious parasites who suck out the the life of healthy cells to infinitude.
Cancer cells are cunning: one of their first official functions of advancement is to cloak themselves — in effect, by knocking out the enemy’s (the body’s) radar screen — so the body won’t spot them as foreign invaders. (Researchers are using these tactics on cancer. They have genetically engineered ‘vaccines’ made from a man’s own cancer cells, and doctored viruses that can act as Trojan horses, slipping into the body, attaching themselves to prostate cancer cells for example, and exterminating them before they even suspect anything’s amiss).
Cancer and Angiogenesis
Like advancing soldiers, cancer cells pave the way before them, laying down a track of new blood vessels. This guarantees a ready-made supply of nutrients — nourishing meals for the road — which, it seems, the cancers absolutely cannot do without. Destroy this infrastructure, cut off the supply line, block these new blood vessels — and the cancer cells starve.
Cancer cells make new blood vessels grow by subverting a normal process involved in wound healing. Usually, once you become an adult, your blood supply is pretty stable, and — except when your body’s trying to repair an injury — you don’t really need new blood vessels. But in order for a cancer to grow, it has to stimulate its host to do a lot of things for it. It’s very dependent on its host, and one of the major reasons why is because it needs vigorous growth of new blood vessels called angiogenesis.
Killing the Cancer Cells
Once cancer cells have plenty of nutrients and plenty of oxygen — they’ve got everything that they need to ‘live.’ But in order to defeat them, they need to be given a signal, and that signal says: “Don’t live. Die.” And that pathway to death is called apoptosis.
But in order to defeat them, they need to be given a signal, and that signal says: Don’t live. Die.
Now imagine a medieval fortress (the cancer cells) under siege. The enemy is outside; but one soldier scales the walls and opens the mighty gates, and this is all it takes to change the course of battle. That one soldier is something that changes the nature of the cancer cell at the mitochondrial level — something powerful that disrupts the integrity and programmed plan of the cancer cell.
Mitochondria are the cell’s power producers. They convert energy into forms that are usable by the cell. Located in the cytoplasm, they are the sites of cellular respiration which ultimately generates fuel for the cell’s activities. Mitochondria are also involved in other cell processes such as cell division and growth, as well as cell death.
For many people, hope for a medical cure rises high and then crashes back to earth, even while progress in diagnosis lurches forward. Cancer claims so many victims but lets others live, sometimes for no apparent reason but ‘luck.’
In these series of posts on cancer, I am going to explore some of the common patterns of success among survivors whether they follow orthodox medical models and/or the myriad of holistic therapies. I will be discussing the validity of natural healing theories such as nutritional alkalinity/acidity, oxygenation of the cells, sugar and cancer. Perhaps we can use targeted intelligent therapies based on these observations and also help ‘lady luck’ do her magic.
Form and Function: Cancer cells do not automatically become a tumor, but rather, depend on surrounding cells (its microenvironment) for cues on how to develop:
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