For ease of explanation, we will refer to chemotherapy as the poisoning of dividing cells using cytotoxic drugs, which do NOT target only cancer cells. That’s what chemotherapy is.
There are as well lots of other drugs used in cancer treatment to attempt to artificially manage adverse reactions to the poison; alter hormonal balance; modify biological responses; or attempt to artificially boost the immune system.
In a study published in the May 23, 2011 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine, the researchers found that the average drug has 70 different side effects, with more commonly prescribed drugs averaging around 100 side effects. The upper range was remarkably high, with a single label containing as many as 525 reactions. How can any doctor know what the side effects are when a patient is taking 5 or 10 prescribed medications at the same time? Arch Intern Med. 2011;171(10):941-954.
Chemotherapy uses various combinations of toxic drugs to poison cells as they replicate. Can you imagine 37 trillion? That’s the number of cells in the average adult body. Each day approximately 86 billion of these replace themselves by division. The cancer cells are also dividing to form new malignant cancer cells.
Chemotherapy drugs cannot distinguish between normal healthy cells and cancerous cells. Oncologists blast all cells with the same poisonous chemicals. Do you know why nearly all chemotherapy patients lose their hair? Guess where some of the fastest dividing cells in your body are? They’re in your hair. Not cancer cells, just healthy cells replacing themselves, but the chemotherapy affects fast growing cells preferentially. There are lots more fast growing cells in your intestines and other vital organs as well as your bone marrow.
That’s why most chemotherapy patients feel horrible and many would rather die! When anyone loses the cells lining their intestines, they develop malabsorption. Although the patient may be getting excellent nutrition, they are physiologically unable to absorb it. That’s why more than forty percent of all cancer deaths are attributable to malnutrition.
Chemotherapy drugs have a high rate of failure because they usually kill only specific types of cancer cells within a tumor, or the cancer cells mutate and become resistant to the chemotherapy. One reason these drugs are not working is that they usually only suppress one growth factor. Scientists now know of more than 20 growth factors used by tumors. Late stage breast cancer cells, for example, may express as many as six different growth factors. Cancer cells emit these growth factors to draw new blood vessels into tumors (angiogenesis) and/or to over-express cell receptors sites that bind to normally occurring growth factors in the body (such as the epidermal growth factor used for skin maintenance).
We know that cancer cells mutate each time they are exposed to a new therapy. By testing promising cancer drugs only on patients who have failed previous therapy, a tremendous burden is being placed on these new drugs since they are being expected to kill cancer cells in their most aggressive stages.
Most tumors contain a small percentage, approximately 2%, of Multi Drug Resistant cells. Chemo is not effective against these cells. After the first round of chemo, the tumor can appear to be effectively destroyed or greatly diminished. The weak cancer cells may have been killed off by the treatment. However, the MDR cells remain and start to multiply. Eventually, a new tumor is formed that is entirely MDR. The next time chemo is used, very few of the cells can be destroyed because they are all MDR. Eventually, all are strong and treatment resistant. This is why patients treated with chemotherapy sometimes seem to get better, only to have the cancer recur in a few months or years in a more aggressive form. Additionally, the cancer that returns is resistant to the previous chemotherapeutic agents used.
Conventional chemotherapy severely damages your immune system, and has been found to reduce the activity of natural killer cells by 96%! 1 So if there are tumours growing elsewhere in the body, then chemotherapy could make things far worse by allowing more rapid growth of other tumours. Curing cancer cannot be done by destroying the body’s immune system! These defenses also won’t quickly return to normal.2
1. Surgical Oncology, August 1994, Volume 3, Issue 4, Pages 211–219
Natural immunity in breast cancer patients during neoadjuvant chemotherapy and after surgery
By: Beitsch et al. “We conclude that the initial treatment of breast cancer patients, whether it involves surgery alone or with neoadjuvant chemotherapy, profoundly impairs their natural immune system and could increase the risk of metastasis.”
2. Nursing Research, 2009 ; 58(2): 105–114
Significant Impairment in Immune Recovery Following Cancer Treatment
By: Kang et al. “Significant delays in immune recovery and large variability persisted at 12 months, which was at least 6-10 months after the completion of any adjuvant therapy.”
It’s like trying to rid your house of ants by using a flame thrower!
We would be remiss not to note that there are a few malignancies that are responsive to chemotherapy. In December, 1972, Dr. Gordon Zubrod, Clinical Director of the National Cancer Institute, presented a list of the cancer malignancies which were “highly responsive” to chemotherapy in the journal Cancer, 1972, Dec; 30 (6):1474-9. The basis for progress in chemotherapy, by Zubrod CG. All of these are rare in adults, and most importantly, the list has not changed since 1972. Here is the list:
Burkitt’s lymphoma; Choriocarcinoma; Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia; Hodgkin’s Disease; Lymphosarcoma; Embryonal Testicular Cancer; Wilms’ Tumor; Ewing’s Sarcoma; Rhabdomyosarcoma; Retinoblastoma.
Here is the Article by Dr. Zubrod.
In the 40+ years since that list was published, there is no solid evidence that chemotherapy for the other, more common, cancers results in significant increased survival.
“BUT I KNOW SOMEBODY WHO WAS CURED…”
All of us have heard of people who have been “cured” of their cancer using chemotherapy. Remember Lance Armstrong? The now disgraced chemotherapy poster boy? It so happened that Lance had one of the few rare cancers (testicular cancer) in which chemotherapy has a success rate of more than just 2 or 3%
You may know someone who has had their cancer go into “remission” after treatment with chemotherapy drugs. They are among the very lucky ones. But, please consider other gentler alternatives before you accept “any dose” of chemotherapy. Approach chemotherapy with the same skeptical attitude that many use to approach gentle natural alternatives. Most of the time you don’t have to subject yourself or your loved one to this torturous form of “treatment.”