The idea of using the immune system to fight cancer actually has a long history. In 1891, Dr. William Coley, a New York bone surgeon, injected streptococcal bacteria into a patient with an inoperable sarcoma (bone cancer), and demonstrated considerable shrinkage of the tumor. He repeated this procedure on more than 1,000 patients, and a significant number were cured. The procedure became known as “Coley’s toxin.”
Despite remarkable results against some very aggressive and advanced cancers, Dr. Coley was either attacked or ignored by members of the medical community. As the new science of chemotherapy and radiation treatments rose in popularity, his findings were all but forgotten.
This scenario has been repeated over and over throughout medical history. In the 1960s, two physicians — Dr. Tilden Everson and Dr. Warren Cole — reviewed hundreds of cases of spontaneous regression of cancer. The most common factor in the cases was something that had stimulated the immune system, most often an infection. And it appeared that certain tumors — kidney cancer, choriocarcinomas, neuroblastomas, and malignant melanomas — were more affected than others.
Studies have shown that those types of cancer are more likely to elicit an immune reaction. (Some tumors have very little immune sensitivity.)
The last decade has seen a resurgence of interest in using the immune system to fight cancer. The most successful approach thus far has been the use of immunotherapy to combat malignant melanomas. Ironically, most conventional cancer treatments suppress anticancer immunity, particularly the most important part of the anticancer immune system: cellular immunity.
In fact, most chemotherapy agents significantly suppress the entire immune system, which allows cancer growth, invasion, and spread (metastasis). Surgery and anesthesia also profoundly suppress immunity. And that condition lasts for at least two weeks after a procedure.
In addition, blood transfusions and many other drugs that are commonly given to cancer patients suppress immunity.
But those factors are not the main problem. When a cancer begins to develop, it uses certain chemicals from the tumor’s microenvironment to suppress the body’s anticancer immune cells. In fact, the cancer hijacks a mechanism that switches the immune system from an attack mode to one that actually suppresses immunity (called a Th1 to Th2 shift and an M1 to M2 shift). The immune system then actually protects the cancer by rendering cancer cells invisible.
As a result of the combination of immune suppression by traditional treatments (surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation), and the cancer’s immune-suppressing effects, a person with cancer is essentially left defenseless.
In most cases, no effort is made by oncologists to correct this critical problem, even though solutions — in the form of natural compounds — now exist. But of course, pharmaceutical companies can’t make billions off these simple natural treatments.
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