Why There Will Never Be a “Cure” For Cancer

Wow… that sounds like a supremely negative statement. In a way it is, but in another way, it isn’t. Promises of a cure for cancer are invariably misleading, and manipulative. The average person does not have a sufficient understanding of the concepts involved with cancer to realize that the promises of a cure are merely a tactic used by certain segments of the medical industries to persuade you to donate money to their cause. Money that is NOT used to “help” cancer patients. Money that does not reduce the cost of cancer care. Money that simply allows pharma companies to continue to pursue their own goals, which are NOT the goals they want you to think they are.

When our son had leukemia, I researched cancer extensively, both conventional and natural treatments. Later, when treating myself for Crohn’s Disease, I researched many of the same issues, since auto-immune disease treatments and chemotherapy overlap a good deal, and since Crohn’s has a higher risk for many types of cancers. My son made a full recovery, and has been in remission for 8 years. I no longer have Crohn’s… and never took any of the toxic medications recommended for it. Anyway, my background for this article comes from the months and years of research during that time and the knowledge gathered from it.

The “Cure for Cancer” issue has two facets that individuals need to understand. The first is the motives and goals of the pharma and medical industry (and the supplement industry, as well as the “natural health” industry, “cure cancer naturally” writer’s arena, etc). The second is the science and reality behind the disease itself.

Currently there is no such thing as a “cure” for cancer. Because no matter how much you believe you got it all, you never know for sure – a single cell in the human body can be the source of a new outbreak, and you can never be sure you got it all. Current treatments have a high risk of CAUSING secondary cancers, so the treatment for the initial cancer may cause another cancer.

It is not like Strep, where you diagnose the illness, administer an antibiotic, and know that you’ll be feeling much better in 24 hours, with manageable side effects. No, it is not like that at all, and no treatment currently available for cancer can be characterized as a “Cure”.

So… the goal of the pharma and medical industry is NOT to find a “cure”. The goal is to create “treatments” which profit the industry. There is a vast difference between the two.  How much could you really charge for a cure for cancer? Far less than you can charge for ongoing treatment. We see this in many illnesses – heart disease, diabetes, Crohn’s, etc. Even when a “Cure” is possible, the pharma companies really aren’t even looking. That is not their goal at all.

(It isn’t the goal of many in the natural health arena either – they simply prey upon hope. So far NO natural solution to cancer has a track record that is documented well enough to be persuasive as a real choice for most people, they are not available for all cancer types, and the natural solutions that do work require VERY careful monitoring because they have the same side effects and risks as chemotherapy.)

Even if they were looking, it is just not that simple. Periodically a news release will promise some new miracle thing that showed great promise “in the laboratory”. It killed cancer cells in a petri dish. Big deal. I could kill cancer cells in a petri dish – just pour gasoline over them and light them on fire.

Killing them inside the human body is equally simple. If you drink gasoline and set yourself on fire, it WILL kill the cancer cells!

Killing cancer cells inside the human body, without harming normal cells (which is the implied goal of a “cure”), is vastly more problematic. There are layers and layers of complexity which make it very difficult to kill cancer cells without killing healthy cells.

Cancer cells are normal cells which have mutated in such a way that they grow uncontrollably. The majority of the genetic material in them is identical to the genetic material in your normal cells. Only a small amount is different. This is why your immune system typically has a fairly weak response in fighting cancer cells. This is also why you cannot just boost the immune system to kill them – doing so will trigger auto-immune disease, where the  body attacks healthy cells, mistaking them for the damaged ones.

Hence, we have chemotherapy (including “natural” supplements), radiation, and surgery. All of which do NOT set out to “kill cancer cells without killing healthy cells” (because that is impossible), but rather, have the goal of “killing the cancer cells FASTER than you kill the healthy cells, OR, kill the cancer cells without killing TOO MANY healthy cells”. “Too many” is a relative term…

First of all, chemicals and radiation cannot think. A lab tech can look at a slide of normal and cancer cells, and usually distinguish between the two based on known characteristics of specific cancer cell types. A radiologist can look at an image (X-Ray, MRI, CT, PET, etc), and see evidence characteristic of cancerous tumors. Cancers may be suspected based on the levels of some elements in the blood – which may be used diagnostically to suggest cancer, but which is not definitive of cancer in many cases, and which is not useful in a treatment that needs to target specific cancer cells.

So, we have the problem of getting a chemical or biological substance to recognize a cancer cell, as separate from a healthy cell. It is not like getting a chemical to recognize a dog from a cat. Rather, getting it to recognize an English Collie as being different than a Border Collie (two similar breeds).

The means by which this is typically done, is to target fast growing cells. Cancer cells typically grow faster than the majority of normal cells. Chemo drugs and radiation both have a stronger effect on fast growing cells. Unfortunately, the body has many fast growing normal cells – in the bone marrow (affecting blood cells and the immune system), surface cells within the digestive tract (starting with the mouth, and ending with the rectum), hair growth cells, and some skin cells. This is why people receiving those treatments typically lose their hair, experience digestive upset and pain, have a compromised immune system and possible anemia, and why they may have mouth or skin sores.

Some newer drugs block the uptake of certain nutrients, critical for growth of cancer cells. Some cancer cells use abnormally high amounts of certain substances. But normal cells use these substances too. Block it too much, and you won’t just kill cancer cells, you’ll create wholesale slaughter of healthy cells.

Natural supplements, cancer fighting foods, etc, work the SAME WAY as chemotherapy. There is no single distinguishing factor which flags a cancer cell with a chemical marker – in fact all types of cancer cells do not even respond the same to various substances, natural or manmade. Cancer cells typically just do things in a more extreme manner than healthy cells, which means natural or manmade substances can use that behavior as a means of killing them faster than they kill the healthy cells. It is important to understand, that there simply IS NO miracle substance which “cures cancer with no side effects”. This is a lie. It cannot happen. The human body simply does not function in that manner. The myth that cancer cells can survive without oxygen is also just that. A myth. The majority of cancer cells require MORE oxygen than normal cells, because they grow and replicate faster. Only a few slower growing ones can survive longer than healthy cells without oxygen, and they are extremely difficult to kill, because they cannot be targeted by higher needs. They are not killed by PH level in the body either, unless YOU are dead too.

The nasty backlash is that with chemo (or natural substances) or radiation, either one, it may not just KILL healthy cells. It may merely MUTATE them – damage them instead of kill them, but the cell survives, with genetic damage. Remember, cancer is simply a mutation of healthy cells? There is a very high chance that some cells will be damaged by the radiation or chemo in such a way that those damaged cells become cancerous, or that they are damaged in a way that makes it highly likely that any further insult (perhaps from chemicals in food, perhaps from other illness) will cause an additional mutation that then becomes cancerous years later. A tiny time bomb waiting for the switch to be flipped.

In general, the risks of a secondary cancer occurring from chemotherapy REDUCE over time. In general, the risks of a secondary cancer occurring from radiation therapy INCREASE over time at a very slow rate.

Surgery is problematic as well, and often a biopsy can cause a cancer to metastasize (spread to other parts of the body), and surgery to remove cancerous tumors may also liberate cancerous cells into the blood stream, and increase the risks of metastasizing. This seems to be especially a risk with bone cancers, but has also been reported with other cancers.

Surgery cannot always remove all of the cancer without causing too much damage to healthy tissues. When it can be, it takes a portion of healthy tissue with it – and results in significant side effects which may impair function long term. Amputations are common with bone cancers, colostomies are common with colon cancers, and seizure disorders are common with brain tumor removals.

So… “cutting edge” experimental therapies…

Better chemo. That just means chemo that is less toxic, or which works on more types of cancer. It still dances the dance of trying to kill more cancer cells than healthy cells.

More closely targeted radiation. Significant progress in delivering radiation in more targeted methods, which affects fewer cells in the body, and produces fewer side effects. But it still affects non-cancerous cells, and still has a significant rate of secondary cancer, which slowly increases over time.

Microsurgery techniques. Again, a refinement of current therapy, with reduced side effects, but with no less risk for metastases caused by the surgery.

Immune boosting therapies. In the research stages. The problem with it is that if you boost the immune system to target cancer cells, the risks of triggering auto-immune responses is not controllable. Cancer cells are too genetically similar to your healthy cells – if the immune system targets them, it is likely to target healthy cells as well.

Gene therapy. Again, problematic and VERY risky. The theory is that a genetic repair can be loaded into a virus that has the ability to permeate the cells, and effect the genetic change within the cells. If it is even possible, it is pretty scary stuff. The problem here is that it essentially has the potential to affect EVERY cell in the body, or any cells at random. The virus can’t tell a healthy cell from a damaged one, or even a pancreatic cell from a liver cell. Even worse, viruses tend to NOT be stable entities. If the virus is affected once it is in the body, perhaps by a reaction specific to that individual (high or low blood sugar, another virus exposure, environmental chemical reactions, an allergic reaction, etc), a minor mutation in the genetic load of the virus, or a minor mutation in the virus itself, and you can have anything from a worsening of the situation, to a deadly contained reaction within  a single individual, to the creation of a new contagious disease outbreak of any intensity. And these are not potentials that you can contain simply by minimizing the risks – the risks are NOT containable. As long as the risks remain, the potentials for harm are simply so horrific that one has to question the ethics of scientists who are researching these options.

Like it or not, the scientific issues in question are the SAME for herbal and nutritional treatments! The success rates so far are lower – some remarkable successes, but more failures than healings. The same issues are pertinent – if you kill cancer cells, you kill healthy cells, boost the immune system you trigger auto-immune disease, turn off nutritional or chemical support for cancers and also turn it off for healthy cells. There are many natural treatments which are every bit as effective as chemo for specific cancer types (though they are less studied and not well documented) – but they are also every bit as risky, so practitioners won’t recommend them out of fear, people won’t try them due to lack of data or dosage, and doctors look upon them with horror because they aren’t approved by the FDA for promotion by a pharma company. The point here is, the ones that WORK have significant RISK. Most do NOT work, and the Natural Health world is rife with opportunism and predatorial companies that heartlessly prey upon the hopes of the desperate (the pharma companies do this also, and with no better ethics – but it is foolish to demonize one side, and think that the other does not have MANY individuals driven by equally shameful motives).

There have been many “miracle cures” reported in the last three decades. None of them have significantly affected the treatment protocols for cancers in any significant way. Chemo is still toxic, surgery is still dangerous, radiation is still nasty, and those are still the only options through mainstream treatments. Alternative treatments are still mostly useless and risky when they do work.

What happens is this:

Some is researching something. They need money. In order to get money, they need to make it seem like they are really on to something. So they puff it up, list all the possible benefits, and do not mention the well known obstacles which stand in the way of the actual USE of the thing they are researching. They hope the public and those deciding on funding won’t notice those significant obstacles – or the fact that the scientists themselves have NO IDEA how to overcome those obstacles. They merely hope that at some point they’ll get a flash of brilliance that defies the rules of biology. And because a “cure for cancer” is a beguiling phrase, and a popular one, funders allow hype to overcome their common sense, and they fund another round or two, until it proves futile and is abandoned. Or until another rather ordinary chemotherapy drug is the result, which is then puffed up all over again to get physicians to prescribe it and make some money from it.

The science behind cancer dictates that certain things are possible, and certain things are not. Most of those rules WILL NOT change! There are some pieces to the puzzle which will remain puzzling, and some which will stay the same awkward shape they always have been.

The human body is an imperfect thing, affected by an imperfect world. You cannot remove the interactions between the two – hence, cancer will always be a factor in life. It will always affect people. The increase in negative environmental factors simply increases the number of people whom it affects.

Cancer will never be an easy thing to treat. And it will always be impossible to offer a guaranteed “cure”. It will never be possible to be sure that one lingering cancer cell is not hiding out somewhere waiting to be triggered into explosive growth. This is just the reality of life!

I think, rather than running around with pink ribbons begging for a “cure”, we’d all be better off if we looked at the chemical causes in modern life, which are inflating the number of people who are developing cancers, and reduce those. Because while “curing” cancer is not, and never will be possible, no matter how much treatments are improved, eliminating 90% of cases IS possible. But the medical community and the pharma companies aren’t interested in that either – there is no money in avoiding cancer in the first place!

Preservatives in foods, artificial flavorings and dyes, pesticides and herbicides, and antibiotic or antibacterial washes applied to foods, and especially chlorine in our water, are ALL mutanogenic (they mutate cells), and carcinogenic (they specifically cause cancer). They are KNOWN to be – they are all designed to KILL LIVING CELLS, and any time a substance is created to do that, it also DAMAGES living cells, other than just the type you wanted it to kill. If cells are DAMAGED, they are often damaged in such a way that they become cancerous. The more exposure you have to chemicals and substances that kill and damage living cells, the greater the chances that you will develop cancer.

Stop buying the line that our only hope is a cure for cancer. Our best hope is to avoid it in the first place!

So buy organic foods or grow your own. Use well water or use a good chlorine filter on your faucet water, AND in your shower (chlorine absorbs through the skin). Avoid organic foods that have been treated with detergents (loose gala apples [get the ones in bags], sprouts, and a few others – you can smell it and taste it on them).

There are no side effects, and no long term secondary cancer risks to that!

UPDATE: Our book Medicinal Mushrooms: Traditional and Emerging Uses for More than 90 Edible Mushrooms is now available on Amazon for Kindle, and in PDF format from our Firelight Heritage Farm Books website.

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