We can tell a lot about a person knowing his or her origins. It doesn’t define the whole person but it can give us a clue about his or her behavior in certain situations. The same is true with animals, bacteria and viruses. Suppose we apply this to the origins of cancer. But where does cancer really come from?
To date, our knowledge on the origins of cancer is focused on a causative agent, the so-called action-reaction theory. An excellent example is cigarette smoking or exposure to industrial compounds for some years. The causative agent produces an increased mutation in the genes of the cells of the lung and causes cancer. 15% of cancer causation is explained by this theory. This developed in the 1950s. But it doesn’t explain treatment resistance, metastasis and cancer recurrence. What behavior of cancer actually kills?
Cancer researches evolved
Over time other theories tried to explain the origin of cancer. One such theory is the presence of an oncogene. A virus through infection causes a mutation in a normal cell gene and initiates cancer. One example is the Human Papilloma Virus responsible for cervical cancer. A second theory is on initiation and promotion. An event initiates genetic damage in pre-malignant cells. A promotion factor stimulates other damages to the cells’ gene to become cancerous.
The third theory is the multistep carcinogenesis theory. This theory is the trend model for doctors and cancer researchers. The cell needs to acquire an abnormal amount of specific genes such as p53, k-ras and 18q in order to mutate and consequently become cancerous.
The burning question
What if cancer cells don’t evolve from normal cells? What if from the beginning of life the precursors of cancer cells are already lurking in the body? They lie in wait for just the right environmental conditions to express themselves, show their true colors, thrive, proliferate and create havoc. This theory is the stem-cell cancer theory. Let’s look at what this is all about.
Theory of cancer stem cells
Stem cells are blank cells and aren’t differentiated as yet. They function as spare parts to replace old worn out cells. Like cancer cells, they are immortal. They differentiate into any type of cells such as skin, muscle, fat, blood vessel, liver cell and other cells. Why not cancer cells too?
If this theory turns out to be true, it would explain most cancer origins. If we know where it originated then we can control it. Luckily, we have a lot of ammunition around. Our first option is to make that environment as bleak, as inhabitable and as mean so they won’t ever have the chance to emerge from their dormant holes and express themselves.
The key of control
This environment is our very own bodies. We can create a better environment by consuming 5-10 functional veggies and fruits every day. Add in 30 minutes of exercise daily. That way we’ll surely give us the best chance to keep that beast silently asleep inside.