Natural health advocates have long pointed to a healthy immune system as the best insurance against the spreading of cancerous cells, but a new study from University College in London claims to have found the “Achilles heel” of cancerous tumors.
The scientists involved in the study believe they have found a way to “steer” the immune system to kill cancers. However, this is something the body already does naturally when left alone and supported by a healthy diet, environment, and lifestyle choices. In fact, there is ample evidence that the body conducts surveillance for cancerous cells, and just as with bacteria, viruses or parasites, it goes about destroying them.
What is Behind Mainstream Cancer Theory?
Mainstream medicine supports the theory that cancer cells may:
- Reduce the expression of tumor antigens on their surface, making it harder for the immune system to detect them
- Express proteins on their surface that induce immune cell inactivation
- Induce cells in the surrounding environment and micro-environment to release substances that suppress immune responses and promote tumor cell proliferation and survival
But they discount how well the immune system works when supported by a clean diet, ample detoxification, hormone balance, exercise, and any number of natural immune system supporting supplements or herbs.
University College researchers say they have personalized their method, reported in Science Journal, but that it is too expensive to be tried in patients. They also say it’s complicated. However, the researchers, whose work was funded by Cancer Research UK, believe their discovery could form the backbone of new treatments, and they hope to test it in patients within two years.
As you may have guessed, this method involves analyzing DNA – and you can be sure the immune-guiding techniques they suggest will involve pharmaceutical drugs like previous cancer vaccines that have been a failure.
The researchers say that previously, the problem with treating cancer has been that cancerous cells are not identical. They are a heavily mutated, genetic mess and samples at different sites within a tumor can look and behave very differently. They describe the “exciting news” that cancer cells form like a tree with mutations branching out in different directions. This is known scientifically as cancer heterogeneity.
This new method would in all likelihood make new drugs more expensive than ever, because each cancer case would require “personalized medicine taken to its absolute limit, where each patient would have a unique treatment,” explains Charles Swanton of the UCL Cancer Institute.
“This is exciting. Now we can prioritize and target tumor antigens that are present in every cell – the Achilles heel of these highly complex cancers.
This is really fascinating and takes personalized medicine to its absolute limit, where each patient would have a unique, bespoke treatment.”
How do scientists plan to use this “exciting” knowledge to target cancer? The first plan is to develop cancer vaccines for each patient that train the immune system to spot rogue cells. The second idea is to “fish” for immune cells that already target those mutations and swell their numbers in the lab, and then put them back into the body.
Is this Justification for more Drugs?
Dr. Marco Gerlinger, from the Institute of Cancer Research, said:
“This is a very important step and makes us think about heterogeneity as a problem and why this gives cancer this big advantage.”
For Gerlinger, cancers are “moving targets” which are hard to control. He said:
“Targeting trunk mutations makes sense from many points of view, but it is early days and whether it’s that simple, I’m not entirely sure.
Many cancers are not standing still but they keep evolving constantly. These are moving targets which makes it difficult to get them under control.
Cancers that can change and evolve could lose the initial antigen or maybe come up with smokescreens of other good antigens so that the immune system gets confused.”
Others are calling this an elegant study which provides ground breaking insight into immunotherapy drugs, which still do not work for most people.
Making Something Simple More Complex
Yet again the cancer industry sticks its head in the sand regarding non-patentable, immune-supporting cancer treatments. Chemotherapy and other cancer drugs are notorious for wiping out our natural immunity. Chemotherapy medicines target rapidly dividing cells, like cancer cells — but also many of the normal cells in our blood, bone marrow, mouth, intestinal tract, nose, nails, vagina, and hair.
Chemotherapy drugs damage bone marrow, and the marrow is less able to produce enough red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. White blood cells, in particular, are devastated. When you don’t have enough white blood cells, your body is more vulnerable to infection.
Here’s the most important point. We all have pre-cancerous cells in our bodies that are eliminated by the natural workings of our immune system. If cancer is growing, it usually means we need to support our immune system with diet changes, lifestyle changes, or more aggressive yet not debilitating methods.
For example the liver, one of the most important organs of detoxification can be cleansed. If our diet and lifestyle choices, as well as environmental pollutants clog up the body, a liver cleanse can have a profound effect on the immune system, and it thus can fight diseases like cancer.
Eating plenty of organic vegetables, fasting with lemon water, getting plenty of sleep, using dichotomous earth, or other immune-supporting habits can restore the body’s natural ability to fight disease, without needing some ‘personalized’ drug.
These researchers may have found cancer’s ‘Achilles heel,’ but they’re missing the heart of the matter.
Christina Sarich is a humanitarian and freelance writer helping you to Wake up Your Sleepy Little Head, and See the Big Picture. Her blog is Yoga for the New World. Her latest book is Pharma Sutra: Healing the Body And Mind Through the Art of Yoga.