As we have already learned that cancer is really a breakdown of the immune system's ability to routinely eliminate abnormal cells, it is important that we look at all causes and factors that trigger off processes which facilitate the development of cancer.
It is useful to divide 'carcinogen' with this broad definition into initiators and promoters.
Initiators act as triggers which lead to a cell becoming abnormal. This involves damage to the cell DNA or genes. Thus, ionizing radiation for example, leads to DNA damage and this would be an initiator or a trigger. It creates the abnormal cells in the first place. These cells then multiply, creating more abnormal cells.
Promoters are things that do not damage genetic material but they facilitate or support the growth of the abnormal cells in any of the three stages (hyperplasia, neoplastic or cancerous). So when the cancer process has been triggered by an initiator or more, it will lie undetected because it is only very small at this stage. However, cancer promoters will facilitate and enhance the growth of this small number of abnormal cells and favour them over the normal cells. Now exactly where the tumour begins to grow and develop will depend on numerous factors, but the cancer promoting processes can sometimes have an influence on which location in the body the cancer cells lodge and grow due to favoured circumstances. Thus, cancer cells can migrate to other sites in the body, away from where they were initially triggered.
From the above we should understand that the development of cancer will depend on the level of exposure to cancer initiating 'carcinogens' and 'cancer promoting' processes which involve weakening of the immune system. If and when a person develops cancer is subject to these two affairs, triggers and promoters, and the extent to which a person is exposed to them in his or her lifestyle.
Now lets look at the list of initiators, promotors, facilitators (in no particular order):
- Chronic (long-term) EMF Exposure: Electromagnetic fields are invisible energy flows created by electricity that turn into magnetic fields. They can affect the balance of the biochemistry of the human body and in turn contribute to development of disease. Man-made EMF emitting devices and installations are more harmful than naturally ocurring EMFs. Modern homes tend to be surrounded with EMF producers that stress the body over the long term. Electrical wiring, computers, terminals, microwaves, lighting, fridges and so on all emit these fields. These types of device emit higher frequencies, way above those of the human body, and can lead too disturbing the brain's natural frequencies. This in turn can lead to cellular fatigue and contribute to the overall compromise of the immune system.
- Sunlight: Solar radiation, ultraviolet-B and ultraviolet-C radiation is a carcinogen and affects those with fair skin. One of the highest rates of skin cancer is in Australia. Long exposure to this radiation triggers abnormal skin cells by damaging DNA. Skin cancer takes three forms depending on which type of skin cell is affected: Melanoma, squamous and basal.
- Ionizing Radition: These are high-energy rays which can disturb matter and cause genetic damage, leading to abnormal cells and ultimately to cancer. [This type of radiation is found in X-ray technology]. Refer to this report [Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation] from Washington University. It should be noted that diagnostic and therapeutic procedures often involved X-rays and may be contributing factors to cases of cancer. The general rule is that the greater and more sustained the exposure the greater the risk of developing cancer.
- Nuclear Radiation: Living near nuclear power plants increases the risk of developing cancer in case of leaks and accidents where radioactive gases are released. A person may also consume foods which have been tainted by radioactive releases without knowing it. Cancer rates increase rapidly in places of high-level explosure such as nuclear bombs and nuclear disasters (Chernobyl).
- Pesticides and Herbicides: This is a particularly huge problem. The use of pesticides in agriculture has grown to a staggering level. Through this route many toxic chemicals enter the human body causing both damage to cells and also suppressing the body's biochemistry in its immune function. Despite regulations being used to limit use, these pesticides are very durable and remain in the environment for very long times. Studies have been performed which look at foreign chemicals found in the human body and they reveal that exposure begins right in the womb. In other words, due to the proliferation of these pesticides, the average person is likely to have them circulating in his or her body, potentially from before birth. When tumour masses are examined, they are often found to have unusually high-rates of toxic chemical residues. Pesticides can lead to very low T-cell and B-cell counts indicating that they are "promoters" of cancer in that they make it easier for abnormal cells to grow and proliferate by suppressing the immune system.
- Industrial Toxins: A large number of toxic chemicals used in industrial processes find their way into the human body. Heavy metals such as aluminium, lead, arsenic, mercury, nickel, cadmium can accumulate in fat cells, the nervous system, bones, brain, glands and can have negative health effects. Higher rates of cancer are found in places close to toxic waste dump sites. Many of these chemicals can mimic the effect of estrogen once they get inside the body. Whilst on their own, the effect is minimal, when the number of these chemicals increase, the effect is magnified. Many breast cancers are caused due to these types of toxins. An example is bisphenol A (an endocrine disrupter used in plastics). In women, breast tissue can serve as a dump site for toxic chemicals in the body. Cancer tissue in the breast will routinely contain pesticides, industrial chemicals and other toxins. In men, the prostate is also a dump site for toxic chemicals in the body. Certain types of professions are at increased risk of cancer because of exposure to industrial toxins. Those exposed to asbestos in the building and demolition industries, those who spray insecticides or pesticides, those who work in tanning or any process that makes use of chemicals toxic to the body have an increased risk of cancer.
- Polluted Water: Both tap and ground water may contain toxic chemicals including metals, pesticides, synthetic organic chemicals, solvents and even radioactive chemicals if there has been a leak around a nuclear plant which has found its way into the water supply.
- Chlorinated Water: Adding chlorine to water kills harmful bacteria. Due to the logistics of getting water into households across the terrain of the earth, the risk of contamination of the water is very high. Hence water companies add chlorine to the water. Whilst this serves an objective, the chlorine itself can form cancer-causing compounds. During summer, the amount of chlorine added tends to increase because warm weather favours the growth of bacteria. These cancer causing chlorinated compounds elevate the risk of colon and rectal cancers. When toxic chlorine reacts with organic molecules in water, trihalomethanes can be formed (such as chloroform and trichloroethylene), which promote cancer in the body. A particularly toxic mutagen is known as MX - and it shows up in every single chlorinated water source. That this compound (and others) is produced in chlorinated water is known to the authorities and they have commissioned studies on it to try and measure its impact. Refer to this UK government report for example to get a glimpse on the subject. In short, chlorine in water that is not free of organic materials is a recipe for carcinogenic compounds being created and you would be drinking them, or bathing in them. This would simply count as one of numerous stresses on the human body whose combined effect facilitate the appearance and growth of cancer.
- Tobacco and Cigarette Smoke: Obviously you do not have to be a smoker, if you are exposed to smoke from tobacco and cigarettes you will be breathing the most potent carcinogens. This is known as 'passive smoking'. Smoking (including passive) has been linked to a wide variety of cancers involving the various major organs of the body: mouth, throat, vocal cords, lungs, stomach, kidney, cervix, pancreas, lips, tongue and so on. Hundreds of toxic chemicals are released through the smoke including carbon monoxide which limits the amount of oxygen going to vital organs such as the brain. Smoking has two main effects. First, it produces harmful free radicals that induce cell damage. Second, it has adverse effects on the immune system. Hence, it is a potent cancer initiator and promoter.
- Immune System Suppressing Drugs: A significant number of conventional drugs and antibiotics have serious suppressive effects upon the immune system. These drugs decrease antibody production and suppress the vitality of the immune system. This also includes chemotherapy drugs which often lead to secondary tumours (see further below).
- Food Additives: A very large number of chemical additives are put into the food supply. These additives have not been sufficiently tested on humans to determine adverse health effects over long periods of time. These additives can include artificial sweeteners, preservatives, anti-fungals, dyes amongst others. Steroids and antibiotics also find their way into the food supply and increase cancer risk.
- Mercury Toxicity: The most common form of mercury exposure in people comes from mercury amalgams in tooth fillings. Recognising this danger, numerous European governments (Denmark, Sweden, Norway for example) have banned the use of silver amalgam fillings, making them illegal. Other countries (Germany, Austria) have banned them for use on children, pregnant women and those with certain health conditions. mercury is a carcinogen and impairs the body's immune system. Exposure leads to a huge increase in free radicals that cause cellular DNA damage, thereby creating cancer cells. When inhaled in the body, it forms into methylmercury which is a 100 times greater in toxicity in elemental mercury.
- Diet and Nutritional Deficiencies: Both what we eat and what we do not eat can contribute to the initiation of cancer by creating a nutritionally deficient and starved system. There are certain factors related to food such as quality, nutritional value, how it is grown, how it has been processed, how it is cooked, all of these play an important role how the body is benefited or harmed through the intake of food. Nutritional imbalances and deficiencies can act as promoters of cancer once it has set in through other factors. Whilst this is a topic in itself, a few notable things can be mentioned: Excessive animal meat intake, contaminated fish, hydrogenated vegetable fats, refined carbohydrates and sugar, excessive caffeine are just some dietary factors involved in the facilitation of cancer.
- Chronic Stress: The mind plays a large role in disease and emotional stress is a contibuting factor to the cancer development process. This is because the immune and nervous system are linked through a network of nerve endings in the bone-marrow, spleen, lymph nodes and thymus gland (a major source of T-Lymphocyte cells). Also, chemical messengers (hormones) can be found on the surface of white blood cells [catecholamines, prostaglandins, thyroid hormone, serotonin, endorphins and so on]. This indicates that the immune, hormone and nervous system are all linked. Thus, the mind and emotional states can have an effect on cancer (and other states of disease or health). This knowledge helps us to appreciate that cures can be effected by numerous means and are not limited to what is commonly known and practiced. This is why spiritual healings [such as du'a and ruqyah which are coupled with emotions such as hope, anticipation, optimism and so on] are only dismissed by those who are ignorant of the asbaab (ways and means) and ignorant of the reality of medicine [as noted by Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah in one of his statements]. Chronic stress upsets the immune system and it is a promoter of the cancerous process.
- Emotional Trauma and toxic Emotions: toxic emotions which are deep and remain for long periods of time generate symptoms which keep underlying illnesses in place. There are connections between emotions and biochemical events in the body. Emotions can be viewed as toxins, since toxins can be chemicals, affecting the body and they can also be thoughts, ideas and wrong harmful beliefs. The presence or absence of these emotions and stresses can determine the difference between cure/survival and greater illness/deatht.
- Air Pollution: Due to the industrial processes, automobiles and other affairs, the air is becoming increasingly polluted. Chemicals entering the body through pollution can affect the hormonal and other biochemical systems, thereby affecting the immune system. Sustained exposure to air pollution can be a facilitator, a promoter of cancer growth, once cancer cells have been created by other factors.
- Depressed Thyroid: Low thyroid activity (hypothyroidism) is being identified as a condition in the presence of which cancer growth is facilitated. The things that cause low thyroid activity are some of the other factors listed here. In women, pollution seems to be a particular problem. Often women who move to places where there is a lot of air pollution [due to heavy traffic, industrial processes, construction and so on], they develop thyroid problems. Medication would not really solve the problem because the underlying cause will remain unless they move from this harmful environment.
- Intestinal Toxicity and Digestive Impairment: The intestines are over 25 feet long when stretched out and can harbour the seeds of diseases when they become clogged and toxic on account of what is eaten and how poorly waste material is eliminated. Due to poor dietary habits and intake the gut flora (good bacteria) presence can be overcome by opportune, disease causing bacteria and parasites. Numerous cancers, allergies, infections, skin diseases, asthma and other conditions initially start out in the intestines. A toxic bowel leads to toxicity in the rest of the body and impacts the immune system significantly. Toxins leech out of the intestinal wall and accumulate in lymph vessels. Bad dietary habits can lead to damage to the stomach lining, a lining in the intestines that prevents absorption, weakening of gut flora, undigested proteins (due to excessive meat intake) acted upon by bacteria to create nitrosamines which are cancer-causing, increased inflammation and other negative effects. Combined, these adversely affect the immune system making this a major cancer promoter.
- Parasites: These tend to reside in the intestines but can migrate to the blood, lymph, liver, pancreas and other organs. They produce numerous symptoms such as diarrhea, gas, bloating, irritable bowel syndrome, joint aches, muscle aches, disturbed sleep, fatigue and gradual immune impairment. Parasites can also release toxins that damage cells and create inflammation.
- Viruses infections may be the cause of a large percentage of certain types of cancers. For exampole, the Hepatitis B virus is associated with liver cancer, HPV 16 and 18 are said to be connected to genital and anal cancers, Epstein-Barr virus is said to be connected to cancers of the upper pharynx as well as a percentage of Hodgkin's and non-Hodgkin's cancers. Promiscuity with lots of different partners involving the transmission of viruses can also be a means of facilitating cancer.
- Blocked detox Pathways: In a healthy body, its detoxification systems, chief of which is the liver, are able to eliminate toxins and prevent illnesses. However, these systems can be functionally blocked by a combination of the other factors mentioned and this leads to the major players in the immune system, such as lymphocytes, macrophages, natural killer cells and others being unable to efficiently detect and eliminate abnormal cells. The following types of system overload can overwhelm and block the body's inherent anticancer defences: a) Metabolic Overload. This is when a person is exposed persistently to high doses of toxins such as drugs, smoke, alcohol, chemicals, metals and so on. This will overwhelm the metabolic system and make a person prone to developing tumours. b) Endocrine Overload. Hormones can stimulate abnormal growth of cells. Growth hormones added to cows for example end up in dairy products, and estrogen mimicking chemicals which enter the body as environmental pollutants and toxins act upon susceptible cells (such as breast cells) to seed tumours. Pollutants such as DDT, DDE and PCBs (poly-chlorinated biphenyls) and BPA (bisphenol-A) are implicated as causes of Breast cancer. c) Free-Radical Overload. Free radicals will be discussed separately below, but they have capacity to attack and destroy the membranes of cells, making them vulnerable to cancer initiators. These free radicals may also interact with cellular DNA leading to cancer formation. d) Immune Overload. It is possible for the immune system to be too overloaded in dealing with other things (such as food allergies for example) to be able to divert resources (such as macrophages) do destroy and devour cancer cells. This means that cancer cells are able to multiply freely. Often those who develop cancer have some other underlying condition that is causing an overload and preventing their immune system from neutralising the cancer cells from the very beginning. An example of what preoccupies the immune system is chronic tonsillitis (inflammation of the tonsils) or whatever is similar.
- Free Radicals: free radicals are unstable molecules which steal electrons from other molecules thereby inducing damage and harmful effects. They are produced when molecules in cells react with oxygen (oxidize) as part of a normal metabolic process. If they are not controlled, they can break down cells, damage enzymes, cell membranes, lipoproteins, DNA and chromosomes. They can be produced by external influences too such as radiation, pollution as well as metabolism and immune system action. When free radicals production goes on uncontrolled, this plays a major role in the development of a very large number of degenerative conditions including cancer, heart disease and premature aging. Things that increase free radical production include pollution, smoking, viruses, infections, stress, certain types of food, excessive exercise, inflammation amongst others. Anti-oxidants are natural biochemical substances that protect living cells from harmful free radical. They include vitamins A, C, E, Beta-carotene, seleniuum, co-enzyme Q10, L-Glutathione, bioflavonoids amongst others. Garlic and Gingko Bilboa are plant antioxidants. The amount of anti-oxidants in the system determines the normal functioning of the immune system. Thus, exposure to things which increase free radical creation and lack of anti-oxidants can lead to cancer-creation process being set triggered because cells are being damaged and becoming abnormal faster than they can be protected or destroyed.
- Lack of Cellular Oxygen When cells are starved of oxygen they transform into cancerous cells according to two-time Nobel-prize winning Biochemist, Dr. Otto Warburg. When deprived of oxygen, cells turn to a "primitive" state of existence and rely on glucose reactions for survival. This is a very inefficient method and takes up a lot of energy. It also produces lactic acid which puts a strain on the body and creates imbalances in pH levels. Over time, as acidity increase, cells find it more and more difficult to use oxygen normally. Cancerous tumours can contain ten times more lactic acid than normal healthy tissues. Some of the ways that cells can become oxygen deficient include exposure to pollution, devitalized foods (overcooked, processed, preserved with chemicals), lack of exercising, shallow breathing.
- Genetic Predisposition and Oncogenes A large amount of cancer research today focuses on genetic causes and origins of cancer. Oncogenes (meaning the genes that start a tumour mass) have been described and they are said to transform normal cells into cancer cells. Hence, they are initiators. Conventional cancer research tends to treat the oncogene as the primary causal unit in cancer. However, this is not correct. Environmental factors constitute around 80% of the cause of cancer. Genes may predispose a person to develop cancer, but only in the right circumstances. If the bodies repair mechanisms are not functioning optimally [due to factors we have already mentioned above] then any cancer cells produced through oncogenes will be able to multiply for longer, eventually leading to a tumour mass. It is important to note about the gene-causation theory that we are dealing with susceptability to the disease and not a guarantee that inherited genes guarantee a person will get cancer. Environmental factors are the greatest influence.
From everything that has preceded: We can see that the root causes of cancer are multifactorial and they all center around two fundamental things: a) environmental influences that trigger the cancer process and b) factors which impair the immune system from doing its job of eliminating cancer cells as a matter of routine. Different factors are at play for different people and different types of cancer will develop on the way these factors influence and interact with the human body. In light of this, any cure has to be empirical. Meaning that treatment must be based entirely around each individual patient and his unique circumstances. This type of holistic treatment is never available in conventional medicine and nor is it even considered legitimate.
One should note that the first perception of cancer we looked at through our analogy in Part 2 of this series does not really concern itself much with most of what has been discussed in this article and is concerned only with annihilation of the tumour through the routes of cutting (surgery), poisoning (chemotherapy) and burning (radiotherapy) even at the expense of setting the person up for secondary cancers which can sometimes not even show up till many years later (thus it can be easily denied that the treatment caused more cancer). Most of the factors discussed above which are the initiators and promoters of cancer in a person will be completely ignored. It is here that we enter the world of "Cancer Politics" where surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy have been made the law of the land with an iron fist. As we have said repeatedly in this series, this is a narrow-minded, deficient approach - as is clear to any intelligent, reasonable, thinking person - and to understand why things have turned this way requires a few history lessons on how the modern cancer industry got established which is outside the scope of this series.
To conclude this article, we have looked at precipitators (initiators) and facilitators (promoters) of cancer, and the important lesson to take from it is that cancer is multifactorial, it is caused by a combination of factors working together unique to a person's lifestyle and environment (genetic factors play a role in creating susceptibility but are far outweighed by lifestyle and environment). Looking at things like this and looking at each case like this means that a non-standard, unique, specifically crafted form of treatment for each patient is what is demanded in reality - but in practice this never takes place. The patient is subjected to treatments which in themselves are carcinogenic and in cases this may even be legally enforced.
From this point onwards in the series we will start looking at matters of prevention and treatment.