Cancer is a regression to more primitive cellular functioning caused by stress




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Of all the topics currently discussed on this web site, the subject of cancer is perhaps the most emotionally delicate. As with all the other subjects on this web site, we won't try to offer quick fixes to problems, rather we explain what we believe are better ways of understanding the actual problems. Until a problem is properly understood, any attempt at rectifying it is really only a shot in the dark. Proper understanding leads to more productive and effective ways of dealing with our problems. There has been a lot of good research on the subject of cancer, and there needs to be more. Taken together in the context of our ideas, we believe this research can lead to far more effective treatments for cancers.

What is cancer?

According to one dictionary, cancer is: 1. a. any malignant growth or tumor from an abnormal and uncontrolled division of body cells. b. a disease caused by this.1

There is a lot of negativity in that definition: malignant, abnormal, uncontrolled and disease. Cancer is portrayed in the popular press and in medical rhetoric as an enemy. But the perceived enemy is part of us, the battlefield is our own bodies, so what kind of war can be fought on those terms without heavy casualties?

Elsewhere on this web site we discuss the medical practice of fighting symptoms rather than the real causes of problems. The cells that are called cancer begin to multiply at unusually high rates and migrate to places in the body (tissues) where non-cancer cells from the same originating tissues don't usually belong (metastasize). And these cells seem to do this with impunity, without any significant challenge, without responses from the body's normal surveillance and defense systems. It is our opinion that cancer is a reaction by cells of our bodies to the ultimate causes of abnormal states, rather than being the causes themselves. We suggest that cancer is an evolved response to those ultimate causes rather than being an out-of-control aberration of evolved systems. We consider the behavior of the cells in our bodies that "become" cancer to be an example of what we call That Dog's Rule.

There are many evolved biological systems that can be grouped into a general category of stress response mechanisms. Indeed, it can be argued that all life processes fit directly or indirectly into this category. Cancer cells appear to fit into that category. The behaviors of cancer cells are very similar to those of one-celled colonial organisms responding to environmental stresses. The proliferation of these cells is a way of increasing the odds of survival, by increasing one's numbers when faced with stress. Abnormally high rates of proliferation are the most defining characteristic of cancer cells. When stress is caused by an excess of some entity, cells will try to escape that entity. When stress is caused by a lack of some essential entity (e.g. nutrient), cells will seek out that entity, scavenge for it. These are known in biology as negative and positive taxis, respectively. Either type of migration, when exhibited by cancer cells would be called metastasis.

Invoking That Dog's Rule, cancer cells are body cells falling back on the protective and/or restorative mechanisms of their unicellular ancestors in response to stresses for which more recently evolved protective or restorative systems are inadequate. Furthermore, quoting from That Dog's Rule: "While those more ancient systems may no longer be suitable to the task, their expression should be considered a signal that the stresses are present, and that those stresses should be dealt with directly."

(Cancer) cells acting this way are not evading our bodies' defenses, they are simply not being recognized as being invasive. When cells revert to certain ancestral systems they do not lose all aspects of their more recently evolved selves. There is still interaction between the cancer cells and other systems in the body. The cancer cells continue to proliferate and are "allowed" to proliferate because the stresses that are the real problem have not abated. This condition continues until the stresses are reduced. Then, the body's defense systems and possibly even the cancer cells themselves get the message that the emergency response expressed in the activities of the cancer cells is no longer needed.

It is said that the sort of mutations that can lead to cancerous cells occur regularly in cells of our bodies, but that the body's surveillance systems normally handle those aberrant cells before they become a problem. There is clinical evidence that even advanced cancers are sometimes removed by our bodies' own systems, although such cases are usually mislabeled as spontaneous remissions and given no further characterization.

We would argue that they are not spontaneous, but are in response to a reduction in the cancer-causing stresses. In such cases, systems haven't suddenly, spontaneously become "aware" of the cancer, they have simply gotten the message that the cancer is no longer of possible benefit, so the need for the emergency response called cancer has ended. Then, the ally becomes a target, but far from being a war, there is an exquisitely specific response, a mop-up operation that leaves the body intact and stronger rather than the ravished battlefield left by most modern medical anti-cancer treatments.

What are these underlying stresses and how can we address them directly? There are many things that are already widely recognized as causing cancer, known as carcinogens. These may be particular chemical substances such as components of cigarette smoke or certain industrial chemicals. They may be energy sources, such as the ultraviolet radiation emitted by the sun or the radioactivity produced by nuclear bomb explosions.

Too much of almost anything can cause stress. Too little of a critical nutrient or other environmental factor can cause stress. There is emotional stress. The more chronic any source of stress, the more opportunity it has to cause problems. We should not prematurely rule out any possible contributing causes. It may be individual causes of stress or multiple causes acting together that induce the response known as cancer. In simple terms, stress is determined by how and where we live our lives.

There is no panacea for stress, no little pill to remove stress (though there are plenty of drugs that obscure the causes of stress from our awareness). The only effective and lasting treatment is to remove the stress, that is to say, to alter what causes the stressful conditions. It is not practical or desirable to run away, to isolate ourselves from the causes of stress when those causes are so attached to the ways we live our lives. We need to learn about what causes stress, and then we need to detach those causes from our lives. For some causes of stress, where the cause pervades all of human society or the planet as a whole, the only way to make this detachment effectively is through universally accepted change. That would require active cooperation among everyone.

Decades of trying have shown that we really can't beat cancer, so let us consider joining it, joining its effort, discovering the sources of stress and putting the cancer out of business. We need to stop concentrating all of our efforts on killing the messenger, instead we must start following the messenger back to the real problems. There is proven* promise in this approach, but it is an approach that does not lend itself to shortcuts and quick fixes.

1 Oxford Dictionary and Thesaurus - American Edition (Oxford University Press, New York, ed. 1, 1996)

* There are several experimental cancer treatments which rely on the use of nutritional and other environmental changes to strengthen the immune and other systems. These may have the concurrent effect of eliminating previously chronic sources of stress. But those studies are not what I am referring to here. I refer to only a single case of a metastatic malignant melanoma, treated by a combination of dietary and environmental changes alone. Once these treatments were implemented, a startlingly effective native immune response was mounted. The individual treated was not human, the treatment was tailored to that individual and that type of cancer, and would be unlikely to have broad efficacy left "as is". The treatment and results were not clinically documented, so you'd have to take my word for it. I could describe the case and treatment, based on memory and the notes I wrote later, should anyone ask. - JAK


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Current location: Page last modified 2001.03.20.



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In 1904 there was very little cancer. Now there is an abundance of cancer. What has changed? Can this be reversed? If you have cancer or do not want to get cancer the information you and your family need is on this web site.


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