For decades the medical establishment’s go-to treatment for cancer has been small doses of chemo paced out in cycles.
Doctors have long believed that the low doses of chemo can kill cancer cells while allowing healthy cells to rebuild between treatments. Unfortunately, this heavy reliance on chemo has meant that any gains in survival rate among cancer victims have been offset by terrible sickness and a low quality of life during treatment.
Now, new research published in Nature Medicine shows that chemotherapy can actually be extremely counterproductive in treating cancer as it could spur healthy cells to release a compound that actually stimulates cancer growth.
According to the researchers, the effect is caused by the impact of chemotherapy drugs on healthy connective tissue cells called fibroblasts which when blasted with chemo can pump out a cancer facilitating protein at a rate of 30 times more than they normally would.
“Cancer cells inside the body live in a very complex environment or neighborhood. Where the tumor cell resides and who its neighbors are influence its response and resistance to therapy,” said senior author Peter S. Nelson, M.D., a member of the Hutchinson Center’s Human Biology Division.
Nelson contends that the reasoning behind believing chemo is an effective treatment against all forms of cancer is not faulty. Chemo kills cancer, but in doses high enough to irradiate cancer from a person in one blast, the patient would certainly die.
“In the laboratory we can ‘cure’ most any cancer simply by giving very high doses of toxic therapies to cancer cells in a petri dish. However, in people, these high doses would not only kill the cancer cells but also normal cells and the host,” Nelson said.
As a result the small-dose option is used for solid cancer tumors such as those of the breast, prostate, lung and colon by practitioners of mainstream medicine, leading to a chance that the cancer could spread more rapidly through the body in some cases than if no treatment were given.
Alternative medicine has long shunned chemotherapy as a viable option for cancer treatment because of its harmful effect on the rest of the body and immune system.