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Cancer: The Selfish Cell

I recently read a book called The Selfish Cell. It is a book about cancer, and was recommended to me by one of my integrative cancer practitioner mentors. I would like to quote or paraphrase parts of this book, since the author did such an excellent job in his descriptions.


Cancer is a group of diseases in which cells are aggressive (grow fast and divide without respect to normal limits), invasive (invade and destroy adjacent tissues), and/or metastatic (spread to other locations in the body). These three malignant properties of cancers differentiate them from benign tumors, which are most often self-limited in their growth amd do not invade or metastasize (although some benign tumors are capable of becoming malignant, given the right circumstances.)

The cancer cells are called selfish because they do not respect the boundaries imposed by the presence of other cells; they work incessantly to expand their progeny or cancer cell offspring at the expense of the organism in which they reside. These cancer cells were formerly normal cells, respectful of their role in the community of their peers (normal cells), forming a biological tissue.

Researchers in cancer have looked for the Golden Fleece: the causes for the deranged behavior of certain cells. These causes are often attributed to abnormalities in their genetic material, abnormalities that are caused by the exposure to chemicals, electromagnetic high energy radiations, or infectious agents.

However, contemporary research reveals a different picture, and has confirmed that the environment or lifetime exposure is the main determinent of cancer incidence, rather than heredity, which is often promoted as the main culprit in cancer. While this is true in some forms of childhood cancer, it is not true in most adult cancers.

What do we mean by environment:? 

 It can include but is not limited to:

- accumulated psycho-emotional stress

- chemicals

- electromagnetic fields

- heavy metals

- GMO foods

Many of these compounds lead to critical gene mutations inside our cells. This is why an ongoing process of detoxification is so important in both the prevention as well as the treatment of any cancer.

Infectious agents are able to induce cancer in multicellular organisms. This applies especially to certain viruses. It is estimated today the about 1/5 of deaths from cancer worldwide are associated with viruses. This includes Hepatitis C virus, HPV, and some herpes viruses. There are also certain other implicated infectious agents, like H pylori in lymphoma, and Salmonella in liver and bile cancers. However, it must be stressed that cancer is not contagious from one human to another. 

I will have more to say on this in future articles. Stay tuned. It gets more interesting, as we look deeper at the social milieu we all live in, and how it promotes the development of most cancer, and how we can change this.

Dr Zieve


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