Disclaimer & Warning: The information in this blog is only provided for informational purposes. This information is not designed to be used to treat any disease or health problem. Instead, always consult with your physician for proper treatment.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

What is Cancer

Cancer is a complex group of more than 200 diseases where cells mutate, develop rapidly and invade other tissues. The purpose of the following information is to provide a basic understanding of cancer and how it develops.

And, keep in mind that because there are hundreds of different types of cancer, each of these cancers develop slightly differently from another. More specifically, not all cancer cells are alike. Cancer may affect any organ or part of the body. Cells in one part of the body may mutate and grow out of control, then spread to other parts and create secondary forms of cancer.

Although each form of cancer behaves slightly differently, all forms of cancer have some similar behaviors and functions. Some of these common behaviors and functions include out-of-control cell division, invasion of healthy tissues, rapid mutation, and a propensity for glucose and an acidic environment.

Although each form of cancer affects a different part of the body, cancer is a systemic disease in that it affects your entire body, where your body represents the system. As a result, any successful treatment strategy must address the entire body or system.

In addition, it is now becoming more widely accepted that cancer is not pre-programmed into your genes, but rather it is the environment of your body that regulates your genetic expression that can trigger cancer to occur. Adverse epigenetic influences that can damage or mutate DNA and alter genetic expression, allowing cancer to proliferate, include the following factors:
-- Chronic inflammation  
-- Free radical damage (oxidative stress)
-- Hormonal imbalances  
-- Toxins and pollution  
-- Chronic infections -- Nutritional deficiencies
-- Chronic stress; negative thoughts and emotional conflicts 
-- Other health issues, e.g. diabetes, obesity, autoimmune disease 

The following 1-minute video provides a simple description of the definition of cancer.

If you want a general understanding of how disease develops in the human body, then, refer to the specific blog post about general disease pathogenesis. Also, refer to the blog post about the immune system.

Sidebar 1: If you google "cancer", you'll find that most sites describe cancer as "cells dividing out of control due to a gene mutation". As an engineer, my question is: "What is causing the cells to divide out of control in the first place? And, what triggered the gene mutation?" Maybe, if medical researchers knew the answers to those questions, they could find the real root cause(s) and develop a cure for cancer.

Sidebar 2: If you google "diabetes", you'll find that most sites describe diabetes as "a blood sugar problem". As a result, Western Medicine "solves the problem" by designing medications to lower the blood sugar. But, "high blood sugar" is a symptom of the problem, not the cause. As a result, the diabetes continues to progress, wreaking damage throughout the body -- because we never find the real solution to what is causing the diabetes.

If you google "type 1 diabetes", you'll find that most sites describe type 1 diabetes as "defective beta cells that don't produce insulin".  But, no one thinks to ask "What actually caused the beta cells to become defective in the first place?" If we focus on that, maybe we can find a solution and cure for type 1 diabetes and end all of this unnecessary suffering by the children with this dreaded disease.

A similar scenario exists with heart disease and high cholesterol. Many people take statin drugs to lower their cholesterol because they believe that cholesterol causes heart disease. Nothing could be further from the truth. So, as long as we focus on the symptoms of a disease, we'll never find the real root cause of the problem and an eventual solution.

So, "something" must be causing the cancer and causing the cells to divide out of control and causing the DNA damage/gene mutation. Here is just one of many possible ways that cancer may develop in the human body.

Cell Division
The most common form of cell division is called mitosis. It is used for growth and repair. During mitosis, a cell makes an exact copy of itself and splits into two new cells. Each cell contains an exact copy of the original cell's chromosomes in their 23 pairs. This is the reason why all the cells in an organism are genetically identical.

Cells do not live forever -- they follow a normal cell cycle and they will reach a point where they will divide through mitosis, or die through a process called apoptosis.

There are two types of genes that normally control the cell cycle: proto-oncogenes, which start cell division and tumor-suppressor genes, which turn off cell division. These two genes work together, one turning on cell division when the body needs to repair or replace tissue, and the other turning off cell division when the repairs have been made. If the proto-oncogenes become mutated, they can become oncogenes -- genes that lead to uncontrolled cell division. Mutations in the tumor-suppressor genes result in the cell not having the ability to turn off cell division.

Cancer Cell Attributes
When a cell becomes cancerous, it develops traits that normal cells do not have. For instance, a cancer cell can have unusual number of chromosomes due to incomplete mitosis or cytokinesis.

Cancer cells may be abnormally shaped or larger than normal cells. Cancer cells also can lose their attachment to nearby tissue and travel to other parts of the body, where they continue dividing and causing problems at other locations. Secondary growths of cancer at a distance from the primary site are referred to as metastasis.

Cancer cells take essential nutrients from the blood to grow and divide and crowd out other cells that have important jobs. In the case of leukemia, white blood cells grow uncontrollably and crowd out the red blood cells, thus reducing an individual's ability to deliver nutrients to the body and affecting the blood's ability to clot and repair wounds.

Cancer Risk Factors
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), common risk factors for cancer include:
-- Tobacco use
-- Alcohol use
-- Overweight/obesity (High inflammation)
-- Cardiovascular problems (High inflammation, High blood pressure)
-- Diabetes (High blood sugar, High insulin)
-- Dietary factors (Cellular starvation, Weakened immunity)
    (including intake of substances such as trans fats, HFCS, insufficient vegetables/fruits)
-- Sedentary lifestyle (Lack of oxygen, Stagnant lymph system)
-- Stress (High cortisol, Burned out Adrenal glands)
--  Insomnia (No melatonin production during REM)
-- Chronic infections from helicobacter pylori, hepatitis B virus (HBV), hepatitis C virus (HCV) and some types of human papilloma virus (HPV)
-- Environmental and occupational risks including ionizing and non-ionizing radiation

Cancer Root Causes & Factors

Note: The items listed in the diagram are not causes of cancer -- they are risk factors that cause cell damage to various tissues and organs, which, in turn, weakens the body's immune system and makes the body more susceptible to developing cancerous cells.

What is Cancer?
Here are some web links that explain what is cancer, what causes cancer, and how cancer develops:

Author's Note: Doctors told me that I was wasting my time trying to educate myself about diabetes. They said that acquiring knowledge about diabetes would only frustrate me and take my focus away from the drug treatments and what the doctors wanted me to do. When I was in the hospital and I told the doctors about the research I found on the Internet, they just rolled their eyes and warned me to stay off the Internet.

Types of Cancer
There are more than 100 forms of cancer. Cancers are classified by the type of cell that the tumor resembles and is therefore presumed to be the origin of the tumor. These types include:
  • Carcinoma: Cancer derived from epithelial cells. This group includes many of the most common cancers, including those of the breast, prostate, lung and colon.
  • Sarcoma: Cancer derived from connective tissue, or mesenchymal cells.
  • Lymphoma and leukemia: Cancer derived from hematopoietic (blood-forming) cells
  • Germ cell tumor: Cancer derived from pluripotent cells. In adults these are most often found in the testicle and ovary, but are more common in babies and young children.
  • Blastoma: Cancer derived from immature "precursor" or embryonic tissue. These are also commonest in children.[citation needed]
Cancers are usually named using -carcinoma, -sarcoma or -blastoma as a suffix, with the Latin or Greek word for the organ or tissue of origin as the root. For example, a cancer of the liver is called hepatocarcinoma; a cancer of fat cells is called a liposarcoma.

For some common cancers, the English organ name is used. For example, the most common type of breast cancer is called ductal carcinoma of the breast. Here, the adjective ductal refers to the appearance of the cancer under the microscope, which suggests that it has originated in the milk ducts.

Benign tumors (which are not cancers) are named using -oma as a suffix with the organ name as the root. For example, a benign tumor of smooth muscle cells is called a leiomyoma (the common name of this frequently occurring benign tumor in the uterus is fibroid). Confusingly, some types of cancer also use the -oma suffix, examples including melanoma and seminoma.

YouTube Videos
Here are a couple of the many videos on YouTube about how cancer starts (and immune system/macrophages), cancer microbes, cures and other similar topics.

Cancer Website References and Terminology
To understand cancer and how it develops, here are some websites that explain many of the terms used in discussing cancer.

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