Friday, August 5, 2011

What is Cancer?

Everyone knows someone who has cancer or has had it. And whether you know it or not...cancer can invade every single part of your body. Its complexity is the reason why there is no "cure". The best thing so far is to prevent it. In order to understand how to prevent it, it is important to know the fundamentals of what cancer is.

The cell is the tiny structure that is the basis for every life form on this planet. It is also the epicenter of where cancer develops and takes root in our bodies. We all learned in high school biology about the parts of a cell...the nucleus, mitochondria, cell membrane, and DNA. All of these parts play a role in keeping the cell healthy. About 600 million years ago, cells started working together to form more complicated organisms and cell specialization was born. Specialization lead to complex organ functions which meant that instead of a cell worrying about its own survival, it now had to work with other cells for the survival of that organism. They developed a division of labor (specialization) so that cells could better perform their tasks for survival.

Two rules that cells are supposed to follow are:
1. Reproduction is not permitted unless to replace a dead or damaged cell
2. Staying alive is not permitted if damage is detected in the structure of the cell.

If these rules are not enforced by all of the cells, and some cells manage to mutate they can form a tumor. Cancer happens when a cell stops playing by the rules that were assigned to it, when a cell refuses to cooperate with the other cells to ensure the well being of the entire organism, and/or when a cell is damaged by exposure to a carcinogenic substance (cigarette smoke, UV Rays, viruses). The cell stops taking orders and is encompassed with its own survival and the survival of its offspring. This is the first stage of cancer...Initiation.

Initiation is the first stage of cancer growth where the rogue cell(s) are damaged beyond repair. At this stage, the damaged cells are not sufficient enough to be called cancer; they can only potentially form tumors. Stage II, Promotion happens when the damaged cell starts to create proteins that enable it to divide and grow uncontrollably. Normally when a cell is damaged beyond repair it is required to kill itself to ensure the health of the organism. However,  these rogue cells are not playing by the rules anymore so unlimited growth is possible. Progression, the third stage, is where the group of modified cells starts to invade surrounding tissue and form its own blood supply. This is the point in which the group of abnormal cells can become a large mass that turns into a tumor and is then capable of spreading to other organs.

The consensus of several of the leading doctors and PhD's that have been researching cancer growth and prevention is that the best way to kill cancer is in Stage I and II. A strong immune system with the help of known cancer fighting foods and exercise have the power to suppress these rogue cells and stop them from ever forming into cancerous tumors. It is my goal to learn for myself and teach others how to incorporate these foods into a busy lifestyle.

There is plenty of information (much more detailed than what I have summarized) on this subject and I encourage whom ever is interested to read the books in the Great Resources section in the right column of this blog.

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