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IMMUNE SYSTEM: A weapon against cancer

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Immune System It is most probable that a living organism's most effective weapon against cancer is the immune system. Evidence of this is demonstrated by the occurrence of spontaneous tumor regressions in humans and animals alike.

In 1999, scientists researching cancer have noticed during one of their studies conducted on mice, one of the mice (BALB/c) never died of cancer despite the large amount of cancer cells injected into him. The mouse was reproduced thousands of times through multiple crossings while maintaining its anti-cancer properties. The studies conducted on these special mice have opened new opportunities through revealing the anti-cancer mechanism of the immune system. It was noticed that in these mice, immune cells (one of the largest groups of leukocytes) surrounded the cancer cells, destroying them upon contact. The remaining “waste” of the tumor cells were engulfed and digested by the macrophages.

After reaching older age, a small percentage of these special mice lost their resistance to tumors. Researchers conclude from this that more frequent cases of cancer in the elderly is not only possibly due to the accumulation of genetic damage in cells, but also to there being a decreased amount of anti-cancer immune cells present in the body and no longer respond as they did during younger age. It was also later found by researchers that the leukocytes within these mice are sufficient enough to destroy tumor cells; in fact, certain immune cells (natural killer cells and macrophages) are capable of destroying cancer cells independently of each other with the same efficiency.

The effectiveness of the immune system to fight cancer is not a new discovery. Dr. William Coley based his very effective therapy on this in the first half of the 20th century. He created an injection consisting of a mixture of two killed bacterial species, which put into motion a dormant immune system and thus picked up the fight against the cancer cells which until then were able to freely flourish within the body. In numerous cases, Dr. Coley’s method led to spontaneous regression in what seems even today to be hopeless amongst patients in the final stages. One thorough study has compared the effectiveness of modern therapies (excluding radiation therapy) with Dr. Coley’s method based on a survival time of 10 years. Astonishingly, modern methods were not statistically more effective than that of Dr. Coley, despite the enormous amounts of money spent on developing new forms of treating cancer.

The extraordinary role of macrophages and natural killer cells (NK) in the combat against the disease became obvious in mice with immunity against cancer. Several studies have shown that natural killer cells have an important role in the maintenance of the body’s immunity to cancer; their shortage was lead to an accelerated growth of tumors.

It has recently been discovered that cigarette smoke is also conductive of lung cancer metastasis because its cancer causing effect is caused in part by suppressing the activity of natural killer cells. Upon activation of the NK cells, the metastasis effect of cigarette smoke disappeared. Thus, it was established that the carcinogenic effect of cigarette smoke is partly due to its suppression of the immune system. A lack of NK cell activity has oftentimes been associated with an increase in metastasis.
The most effective polysaccharides are naturally occurring and mushroom-derived, and are able to activate natural killer cells and inhibit metastasis. Consumption of the phellinus linteus mushroom extract has lead to numerous spontaneous tumor regressions, even in patients in the final stages of the disease.

Tumor cells are capable of releasing various substances which may suppress the anti-cancer effect of macrophages; in fact, ineffective macrophages may even contribute to metastasis. Therefore, activation of macrophages in cancer patients is extremely important so that they may help the body fight the cancer rather than assist metastasis through inactivity. The polysaccharides mentioned above can also activate anti-tumor activity of macrophages.

From the case of the mouse resistant to cancer, it can be seen that the mentioned immune cells (macrophages and natural killer cells) may become the most effective weapon against tumors when activated. The mentioned polysaccharides (i.e. Phellinus Linteus) does not replace but rather supplements treatment recommended by the oncologist (surgery, chemo and radiotherapy). In the case of smokers, they may help reduce the likelihood of developing lung cancer. A German clinical trial has demonstrated the anti-cancer effect of the flavonoid apigenin. It may also contribute to the anti-cancer activity of the immune system by enhancing the effect of medicinal mushrooms.

Please Note: Several studies show that smokers and second hand smokers are in the group of people especially in danger of getting cancer.

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