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An Alternative Theory on Cancer

The following cancer theory is on the subject of the immune system causing cancer. It is a theory that cancer is just an out of control immune response to injury, nothing more. This cancer theory has profound implications on alternative cancer treatment.

Quote from Mark Twain. “What gets us into trouble is not what we don't know. It's what we know for sure, that just ain't so.”

What if we made a mistake about cancer from the start? What if an answer to cancer lies in the opposite direction from where everyone is looking? The last 120 years of cancer research have been spent looking for a flaw in the cell’s DNA. What if the starting point is wrong and cancer is caused by something else? What if cancer is actually caused by the immune system? What sort of alternative cancer treatments might start from this approach to cancer origin?

When cancer researchers set out to produce a complete map of our DNA it was anticipated that it would ultimately lead to the cure for cancer. The map was completed long ago and we know the gene responsible for the controlled division of cells, P53, but this has not improved cancer treatment.  Alternative cancer treatment is still more effective than conventional cancer treatment.

The original premise was that the P53 gene was the cause of cancer, but it was determined the gene does not cause cancer, cancer causes the creation of the P53 enzyme which promotes apoptosis, so instead of being cause, the alternative is that the body is trying to end the cancer, providing self treatment of the cancer. An alternative theory for cancer is badly needed.

All cancer research has been limited to looking inside the cell not any alternative theory or treatment. Maybe the cause(s) of cancer lie outside of the individual cell. Perhaps instead of looking at cancer on the micro level, we should look at an alternative theory that considers the macro level causes of cancer.

The body’s own immune system is sent to a region immediately following injury, initially to stimulate the neighbouring cells into rapidly reproducing themselves, like cancer does, in an endeavour to seal over a wound. We call this scar tissue, but as we will see it is identical to cancer. This observation is critical to the alternative theory of cancer.

With over 200 different types of cells in the human body, there are correspondingly over 200 different types of scar tissue. (Either ironically, or essentially, there are over 200 different types of cancer.)

It is presently held that the immune system sits idle as cancer activity proliferates. Cancer has spread to the adjacent lymph nodes, and the lymph nodes are studied to determine how advanced the cancer has become. With every non cancer disease, the enlarged lymph nodes indicates that the immune system is active and fulfilling its duty. However we are told, in episodes of cancer, the immune system is inactive. This position is necessary if the DNA theory of cancer is to prevail. The alternative theory of cancer does not rely on this assumption.

If cancer is brought on by some defect within the cell, it will be necessary to account for why the immune system does not successfully address cancer as a disease. If this cancer defect is attributed to some form of antigen that has journeyed to the cell, it will also be necessary to address why the immune system did not attack the cancer causing antigen itself as it journeyed to the site that the antigen would ultimately cause cancer in. In this alternative theory of cancer, this paradox is perfectly expained.

It defies reason to accept that the immune system is doing nothing in cancer. A more credible alternative explanation for this cancer phenomenon is that the immune system is doing everything. This would change cancer treatment, create new cancer treatment alternatives. This is not as bizarre as it sounds since all of the characteristics of the cancer activity also happen to be normal immune system functions.

The immune system is actually three distinct systems. The first identifies enemies or damage. The second system, in non cancer disease, attacks the enemies with various cells and chemicals.

Lastly, and of principal interest to this alternate approach to cancer, it is also the responsibility of our immune system to repair any damage that may have occurred. This theory of the root cause of cancer focuses on the repair function. Included in this function is the production of scar tissue, which can lead to keloid scars and hypertrophic scars, each of which is one step closer to the definition of cancer.

The repair process is triggered when the body suffers trauma. I have seen a cancer called mesothelioma which started from a surgical incision made in the process of correcting a hernia, and different cancer, angiosarcoma started from surgery for a mastectomy, we now that some viruses and some bacteria can cause cancer... every event that is KNOWN to cause cancer including chemicals involves some sort of trauma or an invasion which would  normally activate the healing functions of the body. These are known facts, and they support this alternative theory of cancer.

Clearly once this process has been set in motion, there needs to be a corresponding mechanism in place to inform the body of when the healing process has been completed. That is to say, the body must be made to know when to start, and when to stop the rapid formation of scar tissue, so that the immune system may end this elevated activity, and restore itself to the level of activity that existed prior to the trauma. It doesn't require too much imagination to realize that the inability to shut off this ‘repair process’ would result in a situation indistinguishable from what we presently call ‘cancer’. So instead of viewing cancer as a defect in the p53 tumor suppressor gene, we could view it as a defect in our immune system which is carrying out repairs on tissues that do not first need repairing, and/or repairing cells and not receiving a signal as to when to stop. There must be a stop code.

Cancer becomes much less mysterious if we simply view that the immune system is causing the lawless proliferation of growth, (since it is its job to do so,) and the immune system is also supplying the essential blood supply to support this new growth, by way of inflammation (again because it is its job to do so).

If we make this simple adjustment in our model for explaining cancer, (by taking the blame away from the individual cell's DNA, (chromosome p53) and placing the blame on the immune system as a whole, or more specifically, the repair aspect of our immune system, then we simplify cancer immensely. This phenomenon then becomes a candidate to apply Occam's razor. Why employ a complex set of beliefs when a simple explanation already exists? Unexplainable events become, for the first time, explainable.

Why the immune system leaves the cancer alone would become easily explained if the cancer were a function of a defective immune system. Similarly we would be able to account for how the cancer can travel throughout the body undetected and take up residence in another part of the body without being detected or encountering resistance along the way. This explanation would justify the association between cancer and the lymphatic system. The alternative theory of cancer fits this model perfectly.

A close examination of tumor tissues reveals that there are similarities between the formation of scar tissue (with its accompanying inflammation) and cancerous activity. This relationship is most easily observed by comparing skin surface scars with skin cancer. Because scar tissue was manufactured rapidly, and by a different process than that of normal tissue replacement (normal cell division), it has different characteristics. Scar tissue made from skin cells has a distinct appearance with a smoother surface, firmer density, (described as a waxy appearance) and a different pigment from that of the surrounding tissue.

Notice that the tissues manufactured from this scar tissue method, like cancer, are given the attribute of being “functionally and cosmetically inferior” to normal tissue replacement. There would be no reason to expect that a fault in the p53 gene that allowed the cancer cell to go on and reproduce itself over and over would have this functionally and cosmetically inferior attribute.

As a parallel consider that ‘functionally and cosmetically inferior are attributes given to both cells manufactured by the immune system, and cell thought to be manufactured by cancer. If cancer was a disease of the cell losing the ability to replicate itself in a controlled manner, then we would expect to see uniformity between the cancer tumor and the parent cell that had lost this ability to replicate itself in a controlled manner. We should not expect to see uniformity between cancers themselves (if this uniformity did not first exist between the parenting cells). But Warburg, while studying the metabolism of tumors, noted that "cancers of various species and tissue origins reveal a high uniformity from tumor to tumor." Warburg, O.: Stoffwechsel d. Tumore, Springer, Berlin, 1926.

We already know that the immune system sends specialty cells to carry out the cell division (stimulate the neighbouring cells into reproducing themselves in an endeavour to heal over a wound in the form of scar tissue). These specialty cells do not encounter any resistance from the immune system because they are a legitimate part of the immune system, according to this alternative theory.

 I have been looking into it further by comparing inflammatory processes, scar tissue and cancer along with proliferating auto immune disorders.

a) Poor differentiation is found only in scar tissue and cancer.

b) Immune response, as in inflammatory conditions, results in angiogenesis and leaky vasculature which are hallmarks of cancer.

c) There are three known tissues in the body which have a negative charge; immune, blood and cancer cells.  Immune cells and blood cells need a negative charge so they can approach cells for examination or for transfer of oxygen.  Why do cancer cells have a negative charge?  Could it be because they are indeed sclerotic immune tissues?

d)  Mineralization, such as accumulation of calcium, is common in scar tissue.  After resolution of a cancer tumor, radiologists often comment about calcium deposits.

e) Rigidity is found in malignant cancer tissues and in scar tissues.

f) Cells involved in an inflammatory response have a reduced pH, typically as low as 5.5.  This is one of the hallmarks of cancer, an acidic environment.

g) Regulatory or suppressor T-cells are found in cancer tissues, they are the hallmark of tumor infiltrating leukocytes. The job of these cells is to shut down an immune response.  Could it be that they are actually part of the normal function of the body, which is not quite capable of completing its job, or is it more rational to presume that cancer has intelligently recruited and modified these cells to protect itself?

h) Scar tissue is resistant to apoptosis, as is cancer.  The regulatory enzyme P53 induces apoptosis, so it seems it is trying to balance everything out.

i) Scar tissue has genetic defects, which are not the CAUSE of the scar tissue but the result of imperfect duplication of the progenitor cells by the immune system.  Could it be that the famous cancer marker rna defects are the same, that is to say that they are the result of the method of formation of the cells rather than the cause of the cancer?

j) Fibrosis is another commonality between scar tissue and cancer.  This seems to be either mediated by or capable of affecting the extra cellular matrix, and reducing the level of matrix metalloproteinase apparently reduces fibrosis.  Examples of drugs which reduce the MMP are doxycycline and alpha lipoic acid, both of which show promise as anti neoplastics.

k) Fibrinogen and collagen are both up regulated in all forms of scar tissue and in cancer as well, contributing to the rigidity of cancer and scars.

l) P53 is not a genetic cancer causing defect, it is an enzyme producer, and the function of it is to induce apoptosis in cancer and in other scar tissue.  Elevated levels of P53 are seen when cancer is present, but only because it is trying to shut down the tumor, not because it causes the tumor. Elevated levels of P53 are also seen in all scar tissue, in ascending amounts as it proceeds from normal to keloid to hypertrophic scars to cancer.

m) This is the kicker.. scar tissue derives its ATP production from anerobic glycolysis.. if that's not cancer I don't know what is! That is definitive evidence that scar tissue which is clearly created by the immune system is essentially identical to cancer. Anerobic glycolysis is almost the very definition of cancer.

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n) The famous prostate cancer specific antigen or PSA, like P53, is also not a cause of prostate cancer.  Its function in the body is to reduce angiogenesis. Breast cancer patients with elevated PSA (yes, women produce PSA as well as men even though they do not have a prostate, which makes the PSA term a bit ridiculous) have a better prognosis for survival.

o) One document found online claims that the fibrin in the extracellular matrix in tumors prevents the immune cells from reaching the “cancer” cells.

p) There is a continuous spectrum of autoimmune diseases of increasing severity, followed by diseases which some argue are autoimmune and others identify as cancer, followed by cancer itself all of which have many things in common, indeed most if not all of the hallmarks of autoimmune dysfunction and/or cancer. One example is multiple sclerosis, which in addition to damaging the myelin sheath also forms sclerotic (rigid) tissue around the neurons.  I think sclerotic tissue qualifies as a type of scar, which seems to be the beginning of the cancer process..

Common beliefs about cancer include the concept that cancer self designs to have a negative charge in order to evade examination by immune cells, and yet tumor infiltrating leukocytes are the norm in tumors.  It is also held that cancer is not immunogenic and yet it is common for it to be infiltrated with leukocytes, usually regulatory (suppressor rather than effecter cells). 

The common belief is that cancer recruits the regulatory cells to protect itself from immune attack.  These beliefs require not only a level of intelligence, but an understanding on the part of cancer of the immune system and antibodies which for me is paramount to self awareness and knowledge of host defences on the part of cancer.  To me this requires a stretch of the imagination and more than a little credulity.

It seems far more likely that the suppressor cells are being made by the immune system and attracted to the tumor by cytokines as a normal response of the immune system when it realizes that it is time to shut down the scar formation process, but for some reason the shutdown process is not effective, possibly in part due to the immune cells being locked in stasis by fibrin and collagen in the extra cellular matrix.

It also seems more likely that cancer has a negative charge simply because, like immune cells and scar tissue, it is in fact immune formed scar tissue than to assume that it is intelligently deciding to have a negative charge to evade inspection by the immune system.

In short, the more comparisons I make the more convinced I become that the theory is actually correct.  Every factor that identifies scar tissue, which is obviously made by the immune system, is common to hallmarks of cancer tissues.  Of the three different types of scars, normal, keloid and hypertrophic, each has more in common with cancer than the preceding one.



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