There is something unique about cancer, something that makes it a very special challenge. Cancer is not an external invader. It is not a physical breakdown of normal body mechanisms. You can’t catch it from someone else, no matter how far advanced the cancer is in the other person.
Cancer comes from your own cells. It is, in a sense, your own body.
Cell makeup is so complex that your body can recognize human cells from another person and reject them — that is why organ transplants are so difficult. But your body normally does not reject itself, or else it would literally commit suicide. Cancer, however, looks like “you” to your body.
Because cancer cells come from your own cells, they know how to “talk” to your body in normal ways. The “keys” to your body are complex chemical signals that cells use to give instructions to others. This means cancer may not be detected easily as an enemy.
How cells communicate
The cell’s DNA is used to create proteins. These proteins are the communication vehicles, and are called ligands, which can wander to another cell nearby or far away. To receive the signal, a “receptor” binds with the ligand if the ligand and the receptor are of a complimentary shape. If the shape isn’t a match, the ligand does not bind and continues on until it does find a match elsewhere. Thus, a cell protein is created with a very specific purpose, “looks” for the correct place to deliver its message, and then links up.
Nearby signaling may go no further than the cell that produced the ligand, if the right receptor is there. Or it may find a receptor on a nearby cell. This local communication with itself and neighbors tends to strengthen the identity of a colony of cells or specific tissues, coordinating their function.
Long distance signaling occurs with proteins called hormones. Hormones generally travel throughout the body via the bloodstream and affect the whole body at once. Adrenaline is such a hormone, which quickly spreads throughout the body and can be received by many cell types. As the adrenaline binds to cells, it gets used up as cells take the hormone to themselves and out of the blood.
But the most important type of communication in dealing with cancer is cell to cell direct contact. Here again there are proteins that can only fit complimentary proteins, and they will ignore all others. The immune system killer cells are able to recognize “foreign” proteins, latch on, and attack the invading cell.
The cancer dilemma
Cancer cells do have somewhat altered DNA, or else they would be normal cells. As cancer cells divide, the altered DNA produces altered proteins. Now there is something for the immune system to recognize — the strange proteins, called neoantigens, are littered on the surface of the cancer cells. At the same time this is happening, the cancer cells are dividing rapidly and presenting a greater challenge to the immune killer cells.
This becomes a numbers game. As the killer cell wanders past a target, it may catch it. The more targets, the greater the odds the killer cell will find one of them. If the immune system is up to the challenge and can locate enough neoantigens to kill the cancer faster than it is dividing, the cancer loses the battle. If, however, the immune system is suppressed and not up to the challenge, the cancer can grow faster than the immune system can destroy it.
A single gram of DNA can store 215 million gigabytes of information. When DNA creates protein markers with only a small portion of that information changed, you can see how much work your immune system has to do to recognize abnormal cells.
When you consider it that way, a well-functioning, active immune system is your best defense against cancer developing. If your immune system is healthy, and is not burdened down fighting other battles, or suppressed with chemicals and toxins, it has sufficient numbers to respond to cancer and overwhelm it.
Some good news
A Scientific Reports published a review by scientists from the Santa Fe Institute and Osnabruck University that cancer cells multiply by cellular signals. It shows that the immune system health reduces cancer risk, since an unhealthy immune system increases risk. The presence of tumor-infiltrating killer T cells resulted in a 74% five year survival rate in advanced ovarian cancer patients, vs. a 12% survival rate where those T cells were not found, in a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine. So the immune system can penetrate a tumor and destroy cancer, if the cellular communication is correct.
Cancer surrounded by energetic, healthy cells, and scrutinized by an active immune system, is always outmatched!
Dr. Nemec’s Comments:
Communication is key in cellular health. When cells talk to other cells, it like a school of fish where they all work together for the benefit of the whole. Cancer is a miscommunication between the cancer cells and the rest of the cells. It is not just how many natural killer cells or killer T cells that are present, but how the communication lines are working. Most important of all: your immune system is part of your of you, and the CEO of you is your mind. So what is the number one cause of immune suppression? Mental conscious and subconscious stress programs. Your body is an extension of your mind.