This is Part 2 of 2 articles. Part 1 can be accessed here: Cancer: The Perfect Storm On Planet You
Cancer is a lot like Lord Voldemort, the exceedingly evil villain of the Harry Potter series who had his soul divided among seven horcruxes in order to provide himself with immortality.
In the Harry Potter series we see the desperate quest to find and destroy all of these horcruxes, because when combined, they bring Lord Voldemort life, creating an evil catastrophe.”
Thus, through the series (and movies) we see the desperate attempts by Dumbledore, Potter and others to find and destroy every horcrux.
Each horcrux is a part of Voldemort’s soul. When all in place, they allow his existence. With the destruction of each one, a part of him dies.
It’s not far-fetched to think of cancer as an evil catastrophe. And like Lord Voldemort, cancer must assemble its own set of horcruxes in an unbroken chain, in order for it to become malignant and spread its evil.
But if you break the chain by making lifestyle choices that avoid avoid horcrux exposures, then you can reduce your risk of contracting cancer.
It’s also important to keep in mind cancer’s horcruxes can be initiated by many if front factors: chemical exposures (including very low-levels of endocrine disruptors), radiation, genetic predisposition, bacteria and viruses.
In addition, your body has many different ways fighting cancer so that it can often destroy a horcrux. after it has appeared.
Horcruxes And Hallmarks
Instead of using the term horcrux to refer to each of the links in the chain leading to cancer, scientist refer to them as the hallmarks of cancer.
The following look at each of the Hallmarks holds for any form of cancer.
They are, however, especially relevant to assessing the Stealth Syndromes threat from EDCs. It is significant that BPA – the best-known, but by no means the most dangerous of the hundreds of EDCs you are exposed to — can trigger at least six of the ten steps all by itself. Research may uncover more. BPA-triggered steps are marked with an asterisk * .
* Sustaining Proliferative Signaling (Uncontrolled Cell Growth)
Cancer at its most basic is “cells gone wild” – way more cells being created than the body needs. Some chemical signals, hormones or other mechanism floors the cell division accelerator and where there was supposed to be one-city state, there are suddenly two.
Then four, eight, sixteen … 32, 64, 128. In solid tissues, they proliferate, push their city limits into the boundaries of other city states. They pile up, down, out in a massive ugly urban tangle that crowds their neighbors, pressures them out of place. Non-solid tumors like leukemia experience this phase, but without solid boundaries.
There are many types of growths that, at this stage may be inconvenient but harmless and the Planet You militia usually steps in to break up this rowdy party.
*Evading Growth Suppressors
Healthy city-state cells normally produce minute chemical signals that rein in the overgrowth from neighboring city-states.
These signaling chemicals can also be carried into the blood stream where they prompt the release of hormones and growth suppressors that can assist in turning off the cell division in the rogue city state conglomerates. In some cases, once this has happened, other cellular mechanisms –demolition and disposal contractors – dismantle the unwanted city states , recycle what they can and dispose of the rest.
But rogue city states, aided by EDCs and other factors, can ignore those growth suppressors and keep on growing.
Resisting Cell Death
Cells in your body tissues regularly die off when they malfunction. The enormously complicated and delicate machinery in Plant You’s city-states means that small things are constantly in need of repair or scheduled maintenance.
Healthy Planet You city-states have a large staff of inspectors that constantly check a million or more things: that DNA is free of mistakes, that proteins are cobbled together correctly, that sent signals are received, that the superstructure (cytoskeleton) is sound and properly constructed and that cellular trash has not been left about.
But sometimes – like a hurricane battered town with most of the infrastructure damaged – it’s just too far gone. In that case, the inspectors red-tag it and the deconstruction and recycling begin.
Scientists call this process “apoptosis.” This is a normal and highly regulated process that takes place constantly. Importantly, apoptosis is orderly and does not promote inflammation and a resulting immune response, both of which can be abused by cancer for its own ends.
Cancer cells resist this with the effect that old-defective city-states can continue to grow even though some are horribly twisted and defective.
Enabling Replicative Immortality
Like you, normal cells are not immortal. Most cells have a “speed limit” and will divide between 40 and 60 times (The Hayflick Limit). After that, they enter a stage known as senescence where they continue to function, but no longer multiply.
Cancer cells, on the other hand, have perfect radar detectors that allow them to escape detection from the best speed traps that the Planet You cops can devise. That makes rogue cancer city-states immortal with no limit except the death of the entire planet.
*Inducing Angiogenesis (growth of new blood vessels)
The city-state cells in Planet You need to breathe, to feed, to get rid of waste and have chemical signaling methods to communicate with the rest of the planet.
Under normal circumstances, the right signals prompt specialized city-states to create arteries and veins to support injury repair, growth and the growth of fetuses.
But crazy rogue city-states abuse those signals to support their uncontrolled growth so they can threaten the entire region and demand more of Planet You’s resources. By now, we have cancer.
*Activating Invasion And Metastasis (cancerous cells invade nearby tissues and spread to distant parts of the body)
The previous steps can be compared to a rogue region’s massive build-up of military weapons, all massed on the border and ready for attack. Invasion is inevitable if the rogue conspiracy is not stopped here by Planet You’s militia or extra-planetary medical intervention.
Cancer’s invasion happens in many steps. The cells transmit chemical signals that cause normal cells to provide it with compounds it needs to grow. The cancer’s chemical signals can also cause mutations in the cells that are invaded, turning them into allies, unwilling suppliers of food and other molecular goods, or into cancer cells themselves. A cancer is not homogenous and contains many different types of cells with varied genes.
The process of invasion is not well known. A number of possibilities involve cancer’s ability to hijack cellular repair mechanisms or even some of the processes used in the development of embryos.
But it’s clear that the normal cells that cancer does not subvert are killed and cannibalized by the invaders.
Until this point, an invasion by a cancer rogue city-state conspiracy can be compared with a massive land assault with tanks, troops and armored personnel vehicles that set out to cannibalize, pillage, loot and subdue adjacent city-states.
But things can get worse.
The most deadly of invading cancers are able to metastasize, spreading rogue city-states far from the original invasion. This amounts to an airborne campaign, broadcasting rogue city-states like paratroops through the blood vessels and lymph system.
The paratroops of metastasis are enabled by a prior chemical attack that loosens the adhesive ability of cells to stick together. That allows the cancer paratroops to break free in search of places to begin another insurrection, another cancer
Reprogramming Cellular Metabolism
Successful invading armies on Planet Earth realize that they cannot advance so quickly that they outrun their supply lines. Running out of fuel, food or ammunition in the face of an adversary’s counterattack is a quick way to lose.
Rogue cancer city-states face the same issues given their very rapid growth: faster than their own supply lines: blood vessels.
But the Evil Empire of cancer has ways to overcome those obstacles while new blood vessels are being constructed. Cancer cells use a different way of metabolizing glucose that’s less efficient than aerobic metabolism, but continues to work in low-oxygen conditions. While that means they must have more fuel to burn, there is no food shortage because they can always eat the city-states they invade.
Evading Destruction By The Immune System
“The long-standing theory of immune surveillance proposes that cells and tissues are constantly monitored by an ever-alert immune system,” says Hanahan and Weinberg’s paper, “and that such immune surveillance is responsible for recognizing and eliminating the vast majority of incipient cancer cells and thus nascent tumors.
“According to this logic, solid tumors that do appear have somehow managed to avoid detection by the various arms of the immune system or have been able to limit the extent of immunological killing, thereby evading eradication.”
The science on this, the authors point out, is far from conclusive. And because of that, “we present immune-evasion as another emerging hallmark, whose generality as a core hallmark capability remains to be firmly established.”
The updated 2011 paper states that, “Because neither capability is yet generalized and fully validated, they are labeled as emerging hallmarks.”
It may be obvious by now that Planet You has an ecology and environment just like Planet Earth. Food chains, energy, pollution, weather, and a boggling array of intimately interconnected, vitally interdependent, and frighteningly fragile components that all need to work well.
We’ve looked at the first eight of ten steps that cause Planet You’s Perfect storm if cancer. The two enabling characteristics that were added in the 2011 update of ‘The Hallmarks of Cancer” highlight the interdependence of, and raise issues of genetic determination that go beyond genes. These two also illustrate an ecology of how the activities of one of the ten steps affects the others.
*Genome Instability and Mutation
Cancer cells mutate rapidly to adjust to changing conditions. This comes from the helter-skelter frantic growth in an environment where the usual signals and mechanisms for accurate replication of DNA is missing in cell division.
In addition, cancer cells can also destabilize the genetics of nearby normal cells and change them to support the abnormal growth.
Cancer (like BPA and other EDCs) may also produce chemical compounds that change the way that a normal cell’s genes function. They do this in a way called “epigenetic” that does not produce a mutation by altering the DNA. Epigenetic effects can cause a gene to overproduce or under-produce the protein or other compound that it is responsible for.
This is an area of emerging science that is in its infancy.
When cell destruction is disorderly, (as opposed to the organized nature of apoptosis as described previously), it prompts a type of immune cell called a macrophage to destroy normal tissue at the cancer’s leading edge.
Microphages are a normal type of immune cell that your body needs to respond to injuries. Among the things it does is to dismantle damaged cells so new ones can grow. It also summons other molecules that repair blood vessels and grow new ones (our old friend angiogenesis).
A cancer invasion, however, subverts the macrophages so that they attack and destroy normal cells, instead of damage ones. This process releases the nutrients and other molecules that cancer cells use to thrive, reproduce and spread.
Ten Steps … Perfect Storm … Planet You
Cancer is the perfect storm on Planet You. We see that it’s defined by ten recognizable steps. And each of these steps is reached when by torrents of thousands of molecules and signal paths go wrong. And that brings home the importance of stopping the drops before they can organize into steps and gather into the storm.
It’s also vital to understand that your body has repair mechanisms to take care of these molecular injuries. Like Utzi the Iceman, your body can survive any single injury — or multiple ones — from Hallmarks of Cancer.
But even if an EDC is in your body only intermittently, it can still be dangerous. If, for example, nine of the ten steps to the perfect storm are present on Planet You, the brief addition of an EDC that completes the tenth step is all that’s needed to start cancer growing.
Chronic continual exposures to BPA and other EDCs, which the CDC has confirmed we have all had, makes it more likely that all ten steps can complete the detonator sequence that thrusts you into a battle to cure cancer rather than prevent it.
Curing cancer is a worthy goal, but preventing it costs far less in both human suffering, death and the vast expenses often needed to defeat it. I cannot imagine the person who would not be more grateful never to have had cancer than to survive it.
As you read farther, you’ll learn how other diseases – like obesity and diabetes – have a lot in common with many of the cancer hallmarks.
Hallmarks of Cancer: The Next Generation, Douglas Hanahanand Robert A. Weinberg, 646 Cell 144, March 4, 2011 ª2011 Elsevier Inc., DOI 10.1016/j.cell.2011.02.013