Cancer and Its Causes

From a biological viewpoint, cancer is fundamentally a rational process. Once its physiological and biochemical mechanisms are understood, however, therapeutic approaches can be successfully deployed against it, in many instances producing stabilizations, remissions, and, practically speaking, life after cancer. Without this understanding, however, appropriate treatments are unlikely, as is the case when rational treatment is approached solely by conventional medical thinking and practices.

A Chaotic Process in the Rational Order of Biology

Cancer is a disease process in which healthy cells stop functioning and maturing properly. A mishap occurs inside these cells. Perhaps it begins with a change (mutation) in the genetic blueprint, its DNA. The altered DNA makes copies of itself and passes its information and gene sequencing on to other cells, which then become cancer prone. As the normal cycle of cell creation and death is interrupted, the newly mutated cancer cells begin multiplying uncontrollably, no longer operating as an integrated and harmonious part of the body.

In its simplest terms, cancer represents an accelerating process of inappropriate, uncontrolled cell growth—a chaotic process within the order of biology. Cancer cells, when examined under a microscope, are abnormally shaped, inconsistently formed, and disorganized and contain misshapen internal structures—the essence of biological disorder. Cancer, despite its horror for the individual, is a natural phenomenon: it represents the body's response to a continuous attack on its balancing and regulatory mechanisms by numerous factors.

Cancer may seem to us a modern epidemic, but traces of cancer have been detected in the bones and skulls of mummies from Egypt and Peru embalmed 5,000 years ago. Hippocrates (circa 400 B.C.), the renowned Greek physician, first coined the term carcinoma to indicate skin cancer; to him, this Greek word (karkinoma means "crab") is appropriate because of the way a spreading cancer extends clawlike extensions across the cell, tissue, or skin. What is different today is the incidence of cancer: it is steadily affecting more people each year, specifically one out of every three. It is no longer one serious disease among many, but the disease of our time.

The development and growth of a cancer is called carcinogenesis. Physicians now understand that it involves many steps, beginning with specific, undesirable changes in the nucleus of the cell, specifically in its genetic components, the DNA. What distinguishes a cancer process from life-as-usual in the cell is that normally— in a state of health—DNA mutations are repaired or rendered harmless by the immune system, an intricate, multifaceted biochemical defense system. When undesirable genetic alterations remain uncorrected, then a cancer process can potentially escalate to its next stage of uncontrolled rapid growth.

It does this by making copies of itself. This replication, again, is a normal function of DNA, but the trouble here is that it is altered, mutated, and undesirable DNA that is copying itself. As more cancer cells are generated, the process continues to expand and form a tumor. The normal mechanisms of cell growth, replication, differentiation, and maturation then become unregulated, leading to chaos in the body.

Modern oncology (the study of tumors) needs to radically rethink its cancer model, which is based on the Halstead theory of cancer (developed by W. S. Halstead, 1852-1922). G. Zajicek, M.D., of the H.H. Humphrey Center for Experimental Medicine and Cancer Research at Hebrew University-Hadassah Medical School in Jerusalem, Israel, argues that the Halstead theory, whose central premise is that the primary fact about cancer is the tumor, not the patient as a living organism, must be dropped in favor of a more systemic model.

The fact that the age-adjusted mortality rate for cancer has remained virtually unchanged for 60 years means that the standard treatments devised to kill tumors have failed because they are "based on false premises," says Dr. Zajicek. "This hypothesis implies that tumor removal should cure the patient, yet 60 years of intensive effort to remove the tumor did not change the biological outcome of the disease. Obviously, the hypothesis is wrong and should be modified." Focusing medical efforts at removing the tumor is fundamentally a mistake, argues Dr. Zajicek, and will not cure cancer because cancer is "a metabolically systemic deficiency" and "a chronic system disease." Halstead's cancer theory is flawed, says Dr. Zajicek, because it emphasizes the tumor and ignores the patient.

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