Here at Hope4Cancer, we know healing from cancer is dependent on a strong immune system, so our therapies focus on rebuilding the immune system and strengthening the body. However, the immune system is an incredible, complex mechanism, and understanding how it works is crucial to returning to a state of good health. I try to always give my patients a basic understanding of the immune system so they can truly understand the healing process.
About the Immune System
As the body’s natural defense against infection and disease, the immune system is responsible for protecting the body from potentially harmful substances such as bacteria, viruses and germs.
The immune system’s cells constantly flow through the body, looking for invaders. They determine whether other cells are native (i.e., they come from the body) or invading by “reading” tiny proteins called antigens on the cell surfaces. Native cells produced inside the body have “self-antigens,” while invading germs generated outside the body have “non-self-antigens.” The immune system’s cells recognize the non-self-antigens as harmful and kick into action to eliminate them.
But before we get ahead of ourselves, I want to define some of the immune system’s major players:
- Antibodies – Proteins that bind to invading cells’ antigens and mark them for destruction.
- B cells – Immune cells that release antibodies to attack harmful invaders.
- Cytokines – Messengers that help immune cells communicate with each other, allowing them to coordinate the correct immune response against a threat.
- Dendritic cells – Cells that “eat” harmful invading cells.
- Helper T cells – A type of T cell that sends signals to other immune cells to help them destroy invading cells and maintain communication with B cells.
- Memory T cells – Cells that help the body avoid getting the same disease twice by “remembering” how to fight off specific invaders.
- Natural killer T cells – White blood cells that destroy virus-infected and cancerous cells
- Regulatory T cells – Cells that provide checks and balances to make sure the immune system doesn’t overreact.
Now that you have a general understanding of some of the immune system’s main components, let’s take a look at how they work.
Responding to Threats
Our immune systems are equipped with multiple defense mechanisms. The first line of defense is the skin, which works to keep harmful substances out of the body. When the skin is broken and germs get through, immune cells flock to the site. Natural killer cells begin to destroy some of the invaders, and dendritic cells “eat” others. The dendritic cells then transform into antigen-presenting cells (APCs), which present the information they’ve gathered about the invaders to the B and T cells.
B cells get to work producing antibodies to help eliminate anything bacterial, and T cells hunt down viruses. Viruses can be trickier than bacteria for the immune system to “see” because they hide inside normal cells. But the T cells are designed to detect and destroy these hidden pathogens. Some T cells eventually transform into regulatory T cells, and others become memory T cells, further contributing to the immune system’s strength.
The Cancer Exception
One aspect of the immune system I try to thoroughly explain to my patients is how cancer can sometimes go undetected by the body. Because cancer cells are produced inside the body, they have self-antigens, meaning immune system cells don’t readily perceive them as a threat. The DNA mutations that cause the cancer are sometimes different enough to stimulate an immune response; however, even when that happens, a series of intricate communications between APCs and T cells must occur, which can be easily interrupted, shutting down the entire process.
Furthermore, like immune cells, tumor cells also have the ability to create cytokines, which act as messengers between cells. This means cancer cells can confuse communication between immune cells and even take control of certain aspects of the immune response. However, the stronger the immune system, the better chance it has to beat these tricky cancer cells.
At the Hope4Cancer Institute, we understand the close connection between the immune system and the fight against cancer. That’s why our treatment philosophy is to follow seven important steps for each patient:
- Non-toxic cancer-fighting agents – Our non-toxic therapies and products will not harm healthy cells and are not likely to cause uncomfortable side effects.
- Enhance/optimize the immune system – Our products and techniques enhance your immune system’s ability to fight cancer cells throughout your body.
- Full-spectrum nutrition – Our alkaline-oriented nutrition program provides support to the body’s immune system.
- Detoxification – Our processes remove harmful metals and minerals from your body to keep it functioning properly and enhance your recovery.
- Eliminate microbes/pathogens – Our treatment modalities break down and eliminate infectious agents that play a role in cancer development.
- Oxygenation – Our oxygen therapies energize healthy cells, allowing them to more efficiently fight cancer.
- Spiritual and emotional integrity – To treat not only the disease but the entire being, we look to uncover traumatic episodes that may be at the root of the cancer development.
We’re also pleased to offer a supplement called Immune Power Plus (IPP) that uses magnesium, selenium and zinc in combination with beta-glucan, turkey tail mushroom and astragalus to deliver a powerful boost to the immune system. Originally designed to improve the quality of life for AIDS patients, the supplement also works remarkably well for those with cancer. I will share more information about this effective new supplement in a future post.
Also in future blogs, I’ll explain the damage caused to the immune system by traditional cancer treatments, the everyday threats to the immune system, and the new immunotherapy treatments that have been getting a lot of attention lately.
The link between the immune system and the fight against cancer is strong and should be something you consider when choosing the best treatment program for you. The importance of the immune system has always helped drive our philosophy on treating cancer, helping us make a big difference for many of our patients. If you believe these treatments could make a difference for you, don’t hesitate to reach out to us!