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Naturopathic Medicine Blog

Immunity and Cancer

Posted Jul 21st, 2020 in Naturopathic Medicine, News, Tips

Immunity and Cancer Immunity and Cancer a very integral part of understanding how cancer starts, and why many people live healthy lives, eat well, and exercise and still get cancer. And why many patients diagnosed with cancer do very well with their treatments (surgery, radiation, hormonal treatments. Chemotherapy, targeted agents, or a combination of these interventions), while others do progress on treatment and show resistance.

Unfortunately, there is a very clear reductionist approach which means a very narrow vision of cancer treatment over the last decades since the start of chemotherapy in the fifties of the last century and surgery and radiation therapy even decades before chemotherapy. This approach takes into consideration the fight against cancer cells using the tools mentioned above without considering a very essential piece of the puzzle to fight cancer, which is the body's immunity. Disregarding or unacknowledging the body’s innate or acquired immunity is a significant pitfall in managing cancer or even preventing it from happening.

According to recent research on Immunity and Cancer published in the Gene Dev Journal in 2018 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6169832/    the authors found an interesting relationship between the innate immunity (which means immune cells that fight anytime the body is exposed to cancer cells) such as macrophages and NK (Natural Killer cells)  and the adaptive immunity (which means the immune cells that learn over time how do the cancer cells look like and their features then they attack them after some time)  and the initiation and development of cancer and subsequently, the progression or the spread of cancer.

In conclusion, this research found an interesting finding which is that when the body contains cancer cells, both the innate and the acquired immune cells start to attack the foreign cells (Cancer Cells) as invaders or enemies and this is proved by finding lots of these cells around the tumour cells. At this point,  the future of these cancer cells will be determined, whether these immune cells as a part of the person’s Immune System are strong enough to neutralize or kill these cancer cells, and in this situation, the battle will end with the success of the immune system over the cancer cells, or unfortunately, the immune cells would be unable to stop the growth and multiplication of the cancer cells, and hence cancer cells start to take over and grow, not only this happens, but strangely enough, and according to this research, the immune cells of the body start to change and work on the side of the cancer cells and start to promote their growth and formation of the new blood vessels (angiogenesis) that supports cancer growth and even spread (metastases). These last changes happen to all immune cells but usually not the lymphocytes.

Of note, when the body's immune cells start to change and work in favor of cancer cells, the microscopic examination of these cells reveals lots of inflammation around the cancer cells, which gives the impression that inflammation is the right environment for cancer cell growth and multiplication.




So, what does this mean in terms of cancer prevention or treatment?

Given the scientific data mentioned above regarding the role of the immune cells and the immune system in the prevention of cancer initiation then progression, it makes a lot of sense to support and maintain the integrity of the immune system, and also reduce inflammation as it is proved to be an ideal environment for cancer cell survival and spread.

Supporting the immune system can be achieved in many ways, however, one of the best and scientifically proven means is proper diet and fluid intake. It is a well-known fact that 95% or more of our bodies are made of water, so adequate water intake is integral for the function and survival of all our body systems including the immune system. Protein is an essential component of building the immune system and the building blocks of the protein molecule (amino acids) are very essential for the immune system support. Antibodies produced by the immune cells and the interleukins are all made of proteins and amino acids.

Another way to reduce cancer cell survival and slow down its spread is to control or prevent inflammation as shown in the research mentioned before. Reducing inflammation can be achieved by dieting with eating anti-inflammatory foods, and by administering anti-inflammatory natural health supplements. Nevertheless, avoiding pro-inflammatory foods or chemicals is another essential step to reduce inflammation.


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