The sun rises and the sun sets. It seems like the sun rotates around the Earth. Can­cer cells rise and are killed by surgery, radi­a­tion and chemother­apy. It seems like can­cer is a dis­ease. But the sun does not rotate around the Earth, and can­cer is not a dis­ease. The many kinds of can­cer cells are the prod­ucts of the dis­ease neo­pla­sia that can emerge in our bod­ies’ organs and tissues.

Strange as it may seem, much of the fail­ure of the war on can­cer — and more impor­tantly, much of the poten­tial for finally win­ning it — has to do with the def­i­n­i­tion of can­cer. If we think of can­cer as a com­pli­cated array of con­di­tions aris­ing from the dys­func­tional bod­ily process of neo­pla­sia, it makes it eas­ier to orga­nize research and treat­ment around pre­vent­ing and stop­ping that process. The jour­nal Neo­pla­sia does this by encom­pass­ing the tra­di­tional dis­ci­plines of can­cer research as well as emerg­ing fields and inter­dis­ci­pli­nary inves­ti­ga­tions. Can­cer remains a daunt­ing chal­lenge, but at least we have con­cep­tual clar­ity now to guide us rather than over­whelm­ing confusion.

To sim­plify the mat­ter, killing can­cer cells is like using insulin to lower the blood sugar lev­els in dia­betes. Both can­cer cells and high blood sugar are prod­ucts of under­ly­ing dis­eases: can­cer cells of neo­pla­sia and high blood sugar of defi­cient insulin pro­duc­tion by the islets of Langer­hans cells of the pan­creas in type 1 or insulin insen­si­tiv­ity in type 2 diabetes.

The major focus of can­cer treat­ment has been on destroy­ing can­cer cells … not on pre­vent­ing or stop­ping their for­ma­tion. Tumors are iden­ti­fied, and surgery, radi­a­tion and/or chemother­apy are used to elim­i­nate can­cer cells. In the process, espe­cially with radi­a­tion and chemother­apy, nor­mal grow­ing cells are destroyed as well, and the body’s nat­ural defense sys­tem — the immune sys­tem — is com­pro­mised. This model relies upon the fal­lacy that med­ical inter­ven­tions can cure a dis­ease with­out the help of our bod­ies’ nat­ural defenses. Most impor­tantly, it focuses on the prod­ucts of a dis­ease — can­cer cells — rather than on the dis­ease  itself … neoplasia.

A more real­is­tic and pro­duc­tive model is based on the fact that our nor­mal body cells are con­tin­u­ously chang­ing and dying. If in that process they do not die nor­mally, they can mutate through neo­pla­sia and become can­cer cells. Although pro­posed in 1957 and sub­se­quent decades, only recently has the focus of can­cer research been shift­ing to why there is a lapse in our bod­ies’ nat­ural defenses in our immune sys­tems that ordi­nar­ily detect and destroy abnor­mal cells. That lapse per­mits can­cer cells to grow and spread.

So inter­ven­tion must occur ear­lier in the process of neo­pla­sia. To do this, the med­ical com­mu­nity has to break away from the notion that peo­ple in an early stage of neo­pla­sia are “healthy” and, there­fore, shouldn’t be treated. Peo­ple are not healthy if they’re on a path toward cancer.

If this seems rad­i­cal and far-fetched, con­sider this. We have pre­vented mil­lions of heart attacks and strokes by using the same strat­egy. Heart dis­ease does not start with the heart attack; it starts way ear­lier with dietary fac­tors and insulin that cause arte­r­ial plaque (hard­en­ing of the arter­ies). So we treat those. In the same way, a stroke doesn’t start with a blood clot in the brain. It often starts with hyper­ten­sion. So we treat that with dietary, lifestyle changes and drugs. Car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease, of course, is nowhere near as com­plex as can­cer is, but the prin­ci­ple is the same. We can pre­vent and com­ple­ment the treat­ment of can­cer with dietary and life style changes as well.


Jack C. West­man is a psy­chi­a­trist and pres­i­dent of Wis­con­sin Cares, Inc.  He is the author of The Can­cer Solu­tion: Tak­ing Charge of your Life with Cancer.

www.thecancersolution.net

www.jackwestman.com

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