on the heels of recent revelations that x-ray
mammography may be contributing to an epidemic of future radiation-induced
breast cancers, in a new article titled, "Radiation
Treatment Generates Therapy Resistant Cancer Stem Cells From Aggressive
Breast Cancer Cells," published in the journal Cancer July 1st,
2012, researchers from the Department of Radiation Oncology at the UCLA
Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center report that radiation
treatment actually drives breast cancer cells into greater malignancy.
researchers found that even when radiation kills half of the tumor cells
treated, the surviving cells which are resistant to treatment, known as
induced breast cancer stem cells (iBCSCs), were up to 30
times more likely to form tumors than the nonirradiated breast cancer
cells. In other words, the radiation treatment regresses the total population
of cancer cells, generating the false appearance that the treatment is working,
but actually increases the ratio of highly malignant to benign cells within
that tumor, eventually leading to the iatrogenic (treatment-induced) death
of the patient.
month, a related study published in the journal Stem Cells titled, "Radiation-induced
reprogramming of breast cells," found that ionizing radiation reprogrammed
less malignant (more differentiated) breast cancer cells into iBCSCs, helping
to explain why conventional treatment actually enriches the tumor population
with higher levels of treatment-resistant
body of research now indicts conventional cancer treatment with chemotherapy
and radiation as a major contributing cause of cancer patient mortality.
The primary reason for this is the fact that cancer stem cells, which are
almost exclusively resistant to conventional treatment, are not being targeted,
but to the contrary, are encouraged to thrive when exposed to chemotherapy
to understand how conventional treatment drives the cancer into greater
malignancy, we must first understand what cancer is....
Are Cancer Stem Cells, And Why Are They Resistant To Treatment?
are actually highly organized assemblages of cells, which are surprisingly
well-coordinated for cells that are supposed to be the result of strictly
random mutation. They are capable of building their own blood supply (angiogenesis),
are able to defend themselves by silencing cancer-suppression genes, secreting
corrosive enzymes to move freely throughout the body, alter their metabolism
to live in low oxygen and acidic environments, and know how to remove their
own surface-receptor proteins to escape detection by white blood cells.
In a previous article titled "Is
Cancer An Ancient Survival Program Unmasked?" we delved deeper
into this emerging view of cancer as an evolutionary throw-back and not
a byproduct of strictly random mutation.
tumors are not simply the result of one or more mutated cells "going
rogue" and producing exact clones of itself (multi-mutational and clonal
hypotheses), but are a diverse group of cells having radically different
phenotypal characteristics, chemotherapy and radiation will affect each
cell type differently.
are composed of a wide range of cells, many of which are entirely benign.
most deadly cell type within a tumor or blood cancer, known as cancer stem
cells (CSCs), has the ability to give rise to all the cell types found within
are capable of dividing by mitosis to form either two stem cells (increasing
the size of the stem population), or one daughter cell that goes on to differentiate
into a variety of cell types, and one daughter cell that retains stem-cell
means CSCs are tumorigenic (tumor-forming) and should be the primary target
of cancer treatment because they are capable of both initiating and sustaining
cancer. They are also increasingly recognized to be the cause of relapse
and metastasis following conventional treatment.
are exceptionally resistant to conventional treatment for the following
account for less than 1 in 10,000 cells within a particular cancer, making
them difficult to destroy without destroying the vast majority of other
cells comprising the tumor.[ii]
2. CSCs are slow to replicate, making them less likely to be destroyed by
chemotherapy and radiation treatments that target cells which are more rapidly
3. Conventional chemotherapies target differentiated and differentiating
cells, which form the bulk of the tumor, but these are unable to generate
new cells like the CSCs which are undifferentiated.
existence of CSCs explains why conventional cancer treatment has completely
missed the boat when it comes to targeting the root cause of tumors. One
reason for this is because existing cancer treatments have mostly been developed
in animal models where the goal is to shrink a tumor. Because mice are most
often used and their life spans do not exceed two years, tumor relapse is
very difficult, if not impossible to study.
first round of chemotherapy never kills the entire tumor, but only a percentage.
This phenomenon is called the fractional kill. The goal is to use repeated
treatment cycles (usually six) to regress the tumor population down to zero,
without killing the patient.
normally occurs is that the treatment selectively kills the less harmful
populations of cells (daughter cells), increasing the ratio of CSCs to benign
and/or less malignant cells. This is not unlike what happens when antibiotics
are used to treat certain infections. The drug may wipe out 99.9% of the
target bacteria, but .1% have or develop resistance to the agent, enabling
the .1% to come back even stronger with time.
antibiotic, also, kills the other beneficial bacteria that help the body
fight infection naturally, in the same way that chemotherapy kills the patient's
immune system (white blood cells and bone marrow), ultimately supporting
the underlying conditions making disease recurrence more likely.
reality is that the chemotherapy, even though it has reduced the tumor volume,
by increasing the ratio of CSCs to benign daughter cells, has actually made
the cancer more malignant.
has also been shown to increase cancer stem cells in the prostate, ultimately
resulting in cancer recurrence and worsened prognosis.[iii] Cancer stem
cells may also explain why castration therapy often fails in prostate cancer
Natural Substances Which Target and Kill CSCs
compounds have been shown to exhibit three properties which make them suitable
alternatives to conventional chemotherapy and radiotherapy:
margin of safety: Relative to chemotherapy agents such as 5-fluorouracil
natural compounds are two orders of magnitude safer
Cytotoxicity: The ability to target only those cells that are cancerous
and not healthy cells
3.CSCs Targeting: The ability to target the cancer stem cells within a tumor
primary reason why these substances are not used in conventional treatment
is because they are not
patentable, nor profitable. Sadly, the criteria for drug selection
are not safety, effectiveness, accessibility and affordability. If this
were so, natural compounds would form an integral part of the standard of
care in modern cancer treatment.
indicates that the following compounds (along with common dietary sources)
have the ability to target CSCs:
(Red Wine; Japanese Knotweed)
(Cultured Soy; Coffee)
research found on the GreenMedInfo.com Multidrug Resistance page indicate
over 50 compounds inhibit multidrug
resistance cancers in experimental models.
reprogramming of breast cancer cells. Stem Cells. 2012 May ;30(5):833-44.
Human acute myeloid leukemia is organized as a hierarchy that originates
from a primitive hematopoietic cell. Nat Med. 1997 Jul ;3(7):730-7. PMID:
Long-term recovery of irradiated prostate cancer increases cancer stem cells.
Prostate. 2012 Apr 18. Epub 2012 Apr 18. PMID: 22513891
Stem-Like Cells with Luminal Progenitor Phenotype Survive Castration in
Human Prostate Cancer. Stem Cells. 2012 Mar 21. Epub 2012 Mar 21. PMID: