Imagine this scene: people trapped in a burning building. They’ve stopped their normal routine; now they are frantically looking for ways out. They take risks they wouldn’t otherwise take to find any exit. They are desperate, and in their desperation they might succeed in getting out. Once they are safe, they can calm down and return to normal.
Cancer is alive, and it reacts as living things do. We make a mistake by assuming that it has no intelligence beyond just “eating” and multiplying. When threatened, cancer cells focus on survival. They will do whatever it takes to live. Some of the ways that they do so are ingenious. Not only can they rearrange their gene segments to bring out dormant traits, steal gene segments from other cells, change their metabolism, form a colony and signal to others in that colony, and increase their multiplication rate; but cancer cells have another trick as well: they can “roll the dice” and take a chance that random DNA copying errors might work in their favor — that some mutation will allow them to resist their toxic environment.
Copying or Replicating?
Cells in your body attempt to replicate; that is, make an exact replica. An error means that the new cell is imperfect, and may be unable to perform properly in the body. The differentiated cells in our bodies have specific, highly tuned functions, and random errors will usually only damage those. The more complex the cell function, the more likely random errors will be detrimental, but cancer cells are less complex and they have less to lose.
Replication can’t be guaranteed when the physical process involved has to exactly copy about 3 billion “letters” of DNA code. Computers have the same issue: when you copy something to your flash drive, you need gigabytes of data to all copy correctly. Any error, even one bit, will damage your files or even make them useless. To try to avoid this, even more data is added to the copy process for “error correction”. The extra information is a mathematical error-checking composite of the original data, and the computer checks it against the data that it is copying. If there is no disagreement between the data and the error-checking data, the copy continues, but if it fails, the computer drops that piece of data and tries to copy again. If the copy continues to fail, an error message occurs. While this doesn’t guarantee perfection, it drastically reduces the chances of an error getting into the copy.
With DNA replication, error-checking is also part of the replication process. This produces a high degree of accuracy in the cell reproduction. The number of errors that get by this process is extremely small, and would be statistically insignificant where it not for the huge number of cells that reproduce. Without that error-checking process, the number of errors increases dramatically, and with many cell divisions, this means a large number of cells have different DNA than the original.
Normally, cells — even cancer cells — want to reproduce accurately. Accurate division is their best way to develop a good strong community or organism. Stress changes all that. When cancer cells are under stress and threatened by chemotherapy or radiation, they “roll the dice”, drop their high-accuracy DNA duplication process, and instead let the errors happen. So long as the stress remains, they are acting like people trying to get out of a burning building, hoping that crashing through a window or running through flames will work. This is a desperation move, but sometimes the errors created do make some cells resistant to the therapy. Once resistant, they replicate unchecked while the others succumb to the therapy. Since it takes time and perhaps many replications to “stumble” on a good DNA combination, the cancer first appears to remit, and then may come back with a vengeance.
Perhaps even normal cells, when under threat from their environment, will abandon error-checking in search of survival, leading to cancer as a result? What we have learned from a study by the Garvan Institute of Medical Research is that, at least in the case of cancer, that the same error-check abandonment process that bacteria uses to “luck” into a way to resist antibiotics happens also with cancer cells. This is called “stress-induced mutagenesis”, and once the DNA changes produce a path around the therapy, the new cells copy that DNA. Now that they have an effective DNA to deal with their current environment, they switch back to high-accuracy replication and lock in their new advantage.
In a study published by the American Association for Cancer Research, two different cancer cell lines were treated with radiation and their RNA checked against a control group. Forty genes were significantly altered, and certain proteins affecting reproduction were up-regulated within an hour. The cell genetics of the cancer cells readjusted to the radiation. An article in the Annual Review of Cancer Biology refers to stress-induced mutagenesis as “molecular mechanisms of abrupt, transient genomic instability that are up-regulated by stress responses.” So stress on any cell appears to activate intentional attempts at random genetic changes, but in the case of cancer, the aim is to thwart the chemotherapy or radiation.
Like bacteria developing a resistance to antibiotics, the conventional treatment has been rendered ineffective if the genetic changes succeed. Unlike the mutated antibiotic-resistant bacteria which can spread to other people and continue to thrive with new hosts, cancer is individual to each person and the resistance process has to start from scratch. This explains why the cancer doesn’t always find a resistant DNA combination immediately, or why it takes a different amount of time in each instance to develop resistance. Some cancers respond well to chemotherapy at first but then in time find the resistant DNA combination and no longer is the chemotherapy effective. Other cancers find the resistance quickly and the chemotherapy seems to not help much from the start.
Dr. Nemec’s Comments:
It is not about the treatment but the environment. All treatments work temporarily until the drug resistance DNA combination is found by the cancer cell. Cancer cells come from base cells called cancer stem cells. These are the cells that build the entire colony of cancer cells. Cancer stem cells have been stimulated to survive in the most harsh environment, one of inflammation and toxicity. The only way to change this is make an environment where the cancer stem cell does not have to produce more cancer cells to survive the environment. What does that look like? Eating the proper food, drinking sufficient amount of water, getting enough sleep, getting enough oxygen in your cells, exercising your cells, your heart and your muscles, and most of all letting go of past and future to live fully today, thanking God for today. If you want to do chemotherapy and radiation to kill non-stem cancer cells, that is good, but what are you doing about the inflammatory and toxic environment that caused the cancer in the first place? You can kill cancer, but it will come back if you don’t heal the environment that the cells live in. This is what we have helped many achieve in the last 36 years.