YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM

Your immune system is an extraordinarily sophisticated network of organs, tissues and cells which has a very simple purpose. That purpose is to recognize, disable and dispose of all intruders or mutations– and remember them, in case they return at a later date. The immune system is constanly scanning and analyzing all of your cells to see if there is anything awry. Working properly, your immune system can detect a wide variety of agents, known as pathogens, and distinguish them from your own healthy tissue. These pathogens can include parasites, viruses, foreign bodies, and even cancer. If your immune system detects a threat, it is immediately attacked. This is what is known as the inflammatory response.

In order to perform this amazing feat, the immune system has armed itself with numerous methods of attack. Some components of the immune system will engulf and destroy any and all pathogens indiscriminately. Other components produce specialized proteins designed to wipe out specific targets with pinpoint accuracy.

Think of your immune system as both the police force and garbage collector as it kills the bad guys and takes out the trash. Of the estimated 37.2 trillion cells in your body [1], 10 trillion are part of the Immune system, and “the gut immune system has 70–80% of the body’s immune cells. [2]”



There are 10 times more bacterial cells in your body than human cells [3], which means you have approximately 350 Trillion bacteria cells right now! Experts say that at any point in time, our body has at least 1000 to 10,000 cancerous cells. One million cells die every second in the human body, according to several studies, [4-7] and these cells are replaced every second to maintain homeostasis. 60 billion cells are replaced every day according to another study. [8] In multicellular organisms, the regulation of cellular proliferation and cell loss is important for maintaining appropriate cell numbers of each individual cellular compartment.

So every second your body makes one million new cells. Now, in that process, with so many billions of cells being made in one day, there is bound to be errors here and there, escpecially in the precense of inflammatory influences. Imagine copying one million pieces of paper every second. Do you think you might make an error or two if you are distracted? The error-free distribution of genetic information during each cell division is critical for the survival of organisms, but as your body creates one million new cells each second, mistakes and mutations happen due numerous environmental factors. All of this is played out in a world whose dominating force is entropy — the second law of thermodynamics, the certainty that order inevitably gives way to randomness, that any complex arrangement of parts, like the cells that make up a human, will become increasingly disorganized over the span of time. Your body has a system to deal with this, because it inherently knows that errors happen. Even if only one in a million cells made is cancerous, that is approximately 86,400 cancer cells your body made in just one day! “…DNA copying errors are inevitable due to the sheer volume of replication that occurs every day.” [9]

Your immune system works hard every day to destroy these cancer cells, and the pathogens we normally encounter. [10] It has been known for over a century that the body can rid itself of cancer.

In 1909, Dr. Paul Ehrlich, M.D., suggested that, thanks to the immune system, tumour development was usually suppressed. The immune system has an amazing ability to seek out and destroy that which is deemed foreign, and generally leaves ‘self’ alone. Yet, tumour cells, thanks to accumulated mutations and altered patterns of gene expression, differ from their normal counterparts. Could the same killing power that eradicates infection be harnessed to destroy cancer cells — cells that are nevertheless self?” Ehrlich, P. Über den jetzigen stand der karzinomforschung. Ned. Tijdschr. Geneeskd. 5, 273–290 (1909)
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“Undoubtedly, a large proportion of cancer cells are destroyed by the defense cells of the body.” DR. A. C. BRODERS, M.D., JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) March 6, 1920 page 656
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Nearly a century later, this process is still being studied and proven.

Research has shown that NK cells can spontaneously recognize and kill a variety of cancer cells (Herberman 1981)

2011
Berkeley Lab Scientists Find that Normal Breast Cells Help Kill Cancer Cells
It is well known that the human body has a highly developed immune system to detect and destroy invading pathogens and tumor cells. Now, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have shown that the body has a second line of defense against cancer – healthy cells.
“We found that normal breast cells provide an innate defense mechanism against cancer by producing interleukin 25 (IL25) to actively and specifically kill breast cancer cells,” says world reknowned breast cancer authority Dr. Mina Bissell, Ph.D., of Berkeley Lab’s Life Sciences Division, who led this research.
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UC Berkeley Report
Science Translational Medicine

2014
Body kills ‘spontaneous’ blood cancers on a daily basis, research finds
According to investigators at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute in Melbourne, Australia, it would appear that cells in our blood stream, called B cells, tend to undergo spontaneous changes every day. Some of these changes can turn them cancerous, but our immune system kills them off promptly. The results of the study were published in the journal Nature Medicine and Cancer Discovery.
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“Our finding that immune surveillance by T cells enables early detection and elimination of these cancerous and pre-cancerous cells provides an answer to this puzzle, and proves that immune surveillance is essential to preventing the development of this blood cancer.”Dr. Axel Kallies, Ph.D.

Red alert: Body kills ‘spontaneous’ blood cancers on a daily basis
Blood Cells Spontaneously Turn into Cancer Cells Every Day
Your Body is Killing Spontaneous Cancers As You Read This

2014
Killing Cancer Through the Immune System

When it comes to cell replication, the immune system monitors and checks for irregularities. Threats are typically destroyed quickly, effectively nipping it in the bud. In some cases, there is a real battle, where small tumors begin to grow, but get beaten back before becoming very problematic, or symptomatic. You may have had a small bout of proto-cancer that “went away” (the immune system rallied and caught up) before you ever felt it. It’s like having the sniffles that never turns into a cold. The average adult gets 6 bouts of cancer in a lifetime [11], yet only 42% of Americans will end up in a cancer hospital. The other 58% had a respectable immune system, which protected the person against defective cells rising up to become palpable life-threatening cancer.11 This is why early detection of cancer through cancer screening is so dangerous. The body will destroy the tumor naturally IF the immune system is strong enough. However, sometimes our immune systems lose.

When the mutant cell war goes very poorly for your immune system, you’ll eventually feel it. If you are fortunate, your tumor may be “benign”. Even if it is not benign, your cancer may be localized to one area. Or, your cancer may have metastasized, which means a spread to other areas of your body.

When enough of the signs appear, and your doctor comes to find cancer, that’s the point from which you’ve got a serious battle ahead. Realize that this is just part of an overall war that’s been going on inside your body for all of your life. The tumor is a symptom, not a problem. It’s a symptom of an immune system that failed to do it’s job. If we simply remove the tumor by chemo, radiation or surgery and don’t strengthen the body to do it naturally, the cancer almost always returns. Removing a tumor is like removing flies from garbage, they ALWAYS return. This is why chemo and radiation are so harmful. They just treat the symptom and not the root cause.

The immune system is essentially a three-layer system:

1. At its most basic is the skin and mucous membranes, which act as a physical barrier to prevent invasion from foreign bodies and other antigens, such as parasites, bacteria, viruses and toxins.

2. The second layer is known as the innate immune system, which is a broad-acting, short-term, non-specific immune response to pathogens such as bacteria or viruses.

3. The third layer, is the most complex. At its root is a population of white blood cells known as lymphocytes that have a cellular membrane embedded with thousands of identical receptors that are used to recognize and bind to specific antigens and mount an immune response locally. However, if the infection is too large, the lymphocytes secrete a molecule that alerts helper T cells that combine with the molecule as well as fragments of antigens to form a type of cell called a lymphoblast, which then secrete a variety of interleukins that provides a more powerful type of immune response. These cells can also promote the growth of cytotoxic T cells, which are thought to destroy tumorous cells or cells infected with viruses. A third class of immune cells, known as phagocytes, meanwhile, work by engulfing microbes or other unwanted products in the bloodstream. The main phagocyte is the macrophage, which literally means “big eater,” based on its ability to gobble up foreign substances.

Our experience has shown us that in a normal healthy person having an efficiently operating immune system, there is no issue with cancer because research has shown that NK cells can spontaneously recognize and kill cancer cells. [12]

References

1.E. Bianconi et al, An estimation of the number of cells in the human body. Ann Hum Biol, Early Online: 1–11.
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2. Furness JB1, Kunze WA, Clerc N. Nutrient tasting and signaling mechanisms in the gut. II. The intestine as a sensory organ: neural, endocrine, and immune responses. Am J Physiol. 1999 Nov;277(5 Pt 1):G922-8.
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3. Wenner M. Humans Carry More Bacterial Cells than Human Ones. Scientific American, Nov. 30, 2007.
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4. Ravichandran KS. Beginnings of a good apoptotic meal: the find-me and eat-me signaling pathways. Immunity 2011;35:445-455.
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5. Liu et al. Apoptosis in Living Animals Is Assisted by Scavenger Cells and Thus May Not Mainly Go through the Cyto-chrome C-Caspase Pathway. Journal of Cancer 2013, Vol. 4, pages 716-723
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6. Nagata S, Hanayama R, Kawane K. Autoimmunity and the clearance of dead cells. Cell 2010;140:619-30.
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7. Han CZ, Ravichandran KS. Metabolic connections during apoptotic cell engulfment. Cell 2011;147:1442.
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8. Cotter TG. Apoptosis and cancer: the genesis of a research field. Nat Rev Cancer 2009;9:501-7.
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9. U.S. President’s Cancer Panel’s 2008-2009 annual report, “Reducing Environmental Cancer Risk: What We Can Do Now”, April 2010
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10. ‘The Diet and Cancer Connection’, publication 348-141, Virginia Tech, Nov. 1997.
By: Dr. Kathleen Stadler-Thompson, Ph.D., Professor of Human Nutrition at Virginia Tech.
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11. Dr. Patrick Quillan, Ph.D., RD, CNS. Taking Charge of cancer. One day at a time. Wellness News Winter 2013 Cancer Support WA, pages 12-19.
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12.Herberman RB, Ortaldo JR. Natural killer cells: their roles in defenses against disease. Science. 1981 Oct 2; 214 (4516):24-30.
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