February 28, 2010

Cancers can re-seed themselves after chemo, surgery or radiation: what we can do.

This story sounds bad—and it is—but it is not new information in the cancer research world. I’ll explain below.

Cancers can re-seed themselves after chemo, surgery or radiation

Wednesday, February 24, 2010 by: Ethan A. Huff

(NaturalNews) Researchers from the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York have published findings in the journal Cell that explain how tumor cells can re-seed and spread throughout the body after they have been removed through conventional chemotherapy, surgery, or radiation treatments. Tiny tumor cells that circulate throughout the body often begin to send out seeds to the places where the tumor originated, essentially planting the cancer back into the body.

Joan Massague and her colleagues at the Center are finding that conventional treatments leave behind malignant cells that relocate to other areas of the body to avoid being destroyed. Eventually they return as stronger and more aggressive tumors, having gathered back the worst leftover cells from the previous cancer. The result is a second cancer that is worse than the first.

Chemicals present in the immune system also appear to signal tumor cells in circulation to return to their source. Following conventional treatment, the immune system actually works against the body by drawing the vagrant cancer cells back to where they originally seeded, kick starting a relapse.

Medical professionals typically attribute recurrences of cancer following conventional treatment to a few remaining cells that survived treatment and remained at the source. However this study illustrates definitively that lingering cells hide throughout the body and later return to self seed back where they originally started…

…Read the rest of the article here.

It just so happens that one of my clients—Dr. Anne Cress—is a world leader in cancer research at the University of Arizona Cancer Center. We have had some interesting conversations about cancer while I train her early in the morning (she’s not a slacker, but it gives her a chance to catch her breath, and I get to pick up some of her considerable knowledge).

One of the things she has mentioned is a newer theory that she and some other researchers have been working on over the last couple of years. In this model, many cancers are actually caused by stem cells that have “gone rogue,” and begin multiplying abnormally.

After doing their damage, they then go dormant for an indefinite period of time.

There are a variety of factors that determine how and why this happens, but the important points are

(1) stem cells are the cause,

(2) those stem cells return to their source (highly protective bone marrow, safe from the body’s immune system) once they have done their work, and

(3) those pre-cancerous stem cells stay dormant in the bone marrow for a month, a year, or forever.

The article I excerpted above notes the recurrence of cancers long after chemo and/or radiation (or even surgery) have eradicated obvious cancer cells. The article offers a different model for why and how cancers return after time has passed. I can’t argue the points of either model, but I will ask Dr. Cress about it when I see her on Tuesday and share anything new that I learn.

So, left with the knowledge that conventional medicine is only a partial “cure” for cancer, what do we do?

The end of the article offers one viewpoint:

Many recently published studies have found that pomegranates, mangoes, and other natural foods contain valuable phytonutrients that effectively prevent and stop malignant cancer cells while preserving good cells. These nutrients holistically rid the body of harmful cells, targeting them wherever they hide in the body and eliminating them.

Conventional medicine would do best to begin focusing heavily on the compounds found in nature that are designed to deter cancer without inflicting negative side effects as an alternative to the mainstream methods that are only making the problem worse. Whether in aloe vera, peach pits, raw almonds, or the many fruits and vegetables found around the world, anti-cancer nutrients are everywhere and modern medicine is only beginning to recognize them. They may not result in the next big blockbuster drug but they work and they are inexpensive. Perhaps this is the reason they are generally marginalized and looked down upon by the cancer industry.

A few suggestions:

* Eat whole organic foods, especially green leafy vegetables, fruits, berries, and nuts.

* Dr. Cress speculates that inflammation is one of the causes for those dormant stem cells to re-emerge. Omega-3 fats, curcumin, and possibly resveratrol can be potent ways to control inflammation, which is something we might want to do anyway, since so many illnesses are now being linked to inflammation. Pumpkin seeds, flax oil and meal, and walnuts are also vegetarian sources of omega-3 fatty acids.

* Avoid foods high in arachidonic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid known to cause inflammation, and also shown to act as a growth stimulant for cancer cells (through a chain of reactions in the body), especially prostate cancer. Foods high in arachidonic acid include animal meats (red meat more than chicken and turkey, which are both low in total fat content when consuming the white meat), egg yolks, and shellfish.

* If you have not had cancer, exerciseif you have survived cancer, exercise. Because there is little money to be made encouraging people to exercise, there is not surprisingly limited research in this area, but what there is suggests that exercise can help us avoid cancer, and it can help us survive cancer if we get it.

* Don’t smoke, don’t inhale auto exhaust, don’t smoke, have healthy relationships, don’t smoke.

*Eat your broccoli and cauliflower, as well as cabbage, kale, and Brussels sprouts.

We can do all the right things, or at least as much as possible since we cannot be perfect, but there is nothing we can do about our genetics. Still, if we eat well, exercise and don’t do the stupid stuff, we might be able to avoid cancer even if we have the genes to make us susceptible.

Okay—I’m off to have some organic broccoli and skinless, organic, free-range chicken, topped with a garlic and olive oil dressing..!

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