Weigh the Risks vs. Rewards of Radiation

I’ve talked a lot about the limitations – and even the dangers – of conventional cancer therapies. In fact, even when conventional therapies have some success against cancer tumors, their effectiveness against cancer stem cells is almost nonexistent.

As you know, stem cells carry the information needed to create every cell in the body. Stem cells not only divide, but also differentiate, making different types of cells with specialized functions, such as blood cells, muscle cells, connective tissue cells, nerve cells, and others. The body maintains a reserve of stem cells used whenever a replenishment of different cell types are needed.

Unfortunately, tumors also have stem cells, and these cancer stem cells have special properties that make cancer difficult to heal. While cancer stem cells only compose less than 1 percent of the tumor, these cells contain all of the information needed to regrow a tumor. In other words, even if a treatment is capable of eradicating nearly all of the remaining 99 percent of a tumor, those remaining stem cells can simply regrow what was just eliminated. To make matters worse, stem cells are often difficult to target because they can easily morph into other forms of cancer cells.

Causing More Harm Than Good

Cancer stem cells have been proven to be very resistant to radiation and chemotherapy. But even more concerning is research from the UCLA Department of Radiation Oncology at UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, which showed that even while radiation is capable of eliminating half of breast cancer tumor cells during a typical treatment, it also transformed other non-cancer stem cells into new cancer stem cells.

Plus, the research also showed that the newly created breast cancer stem cells were 30 times more effective in their ability to create tumors, as compared to the original stem cells. In other words, not only did the radiation fail to eliminate the cancer stem cells, but it had the opposite effect of making new cancer stem cells even more powerful than the originals.

The researchers believe the cancer cells are using the same cellular mechanisms that allow other cells to adapt and survive in the face of stressors. Dr. Frank Pajonk, associate professor of radiation oncology and researcher at Jonsson Cancer Center, explains:

“We found that these induced breast cancer stem cells (iBCSC) were generated by radiation-induced activation of the same cellular pathways used to reprogram normal cells into induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS) in regenerative medicine. It was remarkable that these breast cancers used the same reprogramming pathways to fight back against the radiation treatment.”

Try the Safer Approach

Further research that studied this effect of radiation against cancer cells only added more evidence that conventional cancer therapies, such as surgery, radiation and chemotherapy, have very little effect against systemic (or advanced) disease. In fact, these therapies really have no way of targeting cancer stem cells and generally have no effect—or, as we discussed above, the opposite effect.

In truth, cancer is only healed by treatments that serve to boost the body’s immune system to allow the body to heal itself. Only by using gentle, nontoxic therapies that support the body – instead of stressing it – can be successful in the long run.

If your doctor has recommended radiation to treat your cancer, I encourage you to get in touch with Hope4Cancer for a second opinion so we can discuss some alternative therapies that allow the immune system to be the primary participant in the healing process. We’d love to help you!

Dr. Subrata Chakravarty is the Chief Science and Technology Officer at Hope4Cancer. Join the conversation by tweeting @Hope4CancerMex or commenting on the blog or Facebook page.

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