Understanding Cancer is an Autoimmune Disorder
“Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.”
It is truly the ‘small things’ that move the masses. When we begin a discussion of our immune system, it is the small things, the chemicals that form the slurries of our defense system that eventually influence much happening in our body.
If you learn anything from my book may it be to stimulate you to ask one simple question – “why?” Most people, after the devastation of the cancer diagnosis settles in, just accept the fact that they have a grave disease and follow the doctor’s orders as to the next step. They may hear a, “We just don’t know” or “It’s probably genetic” if they are so bold to ask such questions of ‘why’ to their oncologist. Most don’t feel qualified to dig for themselves and simply follow in blind faith that what is recommended. I beg you to be different!
I come from the philosophy that an effect always has a cause. If something is set in motion, there existed an initial stimulus that propelled it. Cancer, though scary and often deadly, seems to numb most people into a fearful obedience to the culturally accepted treatment plan. After all, it is only human to want someone else to remove the responsibility from us regarding any painful situation. Cancer is serious; cancer isn’t to be ‘played’ with; I need to go to a ‘real’ doctor. I am not asking you to trust me or anything in this book; I am asking you to NOT check your brain at the door of the hospital and to demand answers from your doctors or those who will help you through this journey.
The quality of your experience as well as your outcome depends on the quality of the questions you ask. You have the right to receive logical answers; keep asking ‘why’. Don’t stop asking and don’t accept any treatment that isn’t logically treating the answers to your constant questions of, “Why?” When we see a person that has a diagnosis of cancer of any name, the goal really is to discover the cause or the reason why the body has allowed or responded in such a way. Is it logical to believe that, though medical intervention may be best to slow a fast growing cancer, finding and correcting the cause would be the best approach to treating any dysfunction?
In this chapter I will explain the connection between cancer and the immune system as simple as I know how. You’ll see that if you don’t support and modulate your immune system you will NEVER improve your physiology and the cancer will simply progress.
Some highlight points to know about your immune system:
- Your immune system does one thing and only one thing – it KILLS things.
- Your immune system may be separated into two responses – Th1 and Th2 (simplistically, there are more but we’ll leave it at that for now)
- Your immune system is supposed to only ‘turn on’ against bio-toxins (living organisms like bacteria, virus, parasites…that is, things that it can kill)
- The Th1 response is the immediate, killer cell response (think of it as the Marine Corps) against the enemy and is the primary killer of antigens and cancer cells. What it ‘turns on’ against is called an antigen in the immune response.
- The Th2 response is sent out secondarily and is mainly responsible for making antibodies against the antigen that the Th1 system ‘turned on’ against. The antibodies ‘tag’ that antigens and the Th1 system can then kill it.
- Your immune system assists in the cleaning up of old cells necessary for cancer to NOT develop in the first place. This is primarily a Th1 function.
- Both Th1 and Th2 responses are named such because they carry a slurry of different chemicals (chemokines and cytokines) that make up such a response.
An AUTOIMMUNE disorder happens when your immune system starts attacking self-tissue. Really, an autoimmune disease develops because your immune system has ‘turned-on’ against something IT FOUND lodged in self tissue and now is destroying self-tissue as well. Let’s expand that a little more so you can fully understand it: If my immune system fires a response against a flu virus I just picked up and it’s a particularly virulent virus, a strong Th1 response is released in an attempt to kill the foreign invader and bring me back to health. My ‘strong Th1 response’ is really a collection of different cells that are looking for a battle; they are seeking an enemy with guns loaded. Let’s say they find the flu virus and recognize that it is the enemy they were commissioned to kill, they attack it, kill it and then retreat in victory. The Th1/Th2 system goes back into balance and life is good.
An autoimmune disease begins when, for a multitude of reasons we won’t breach here, stray cytokines from a Th1 response didn’t recognize the flu virus as the enemy but recognized something that they were never supposed to recognize as an enemy – let’s say a heavy metal toxicity in my thyroid. Because I was exposed to a great amount of mercury from amalgams, vaccinations, and just living in a toxic world, mercury had lodge in the fat cells surrounding my thyroid and other tissues. My liver, unable to clear out that which I was exposed to caused my system to shunt the toxicity to fat storage cells for safe keeping. Never was my immune system supposed to ‘turn-on’ against such chemical toxicity!
Is my immune system ever going to be able to kill mercury? Of course not; mercury is an element on the periodic table, not a living organism. If my immune system inadvertently turns-on against something that cannot or will not die, there will be a lot of collateral damage and I might even begin to start making antibodies against the tissues surrounding the attack. This is an autoimmune disease; it isn’t really a disease at all, it is an immune attack on self-tissue because my immune system is firing against something it never should of fired against! Remember, when the immune system turns-on against something, it does so until it achieves victory, until it kills it.
Summary: An autoimmune disease is when my immune system is firing against something (either constant Th1 dominant or constant Th2 dominant) that it found lodged in self-tissue that either cannot or will not die and is destroying self-tissue in the process.
So, what is the CAUSE of an autoimmune attack? It is not really an “immune system gone wrong” as it is an immune system thinking it is doing “right” but firing against something that it can never kill. The only way to ultimately correct an autoimmune disorder is to remove the antigen it is making war against. This way you are essentially fooling your immune system to think that it has won and the enemy is dead. In the case of autoimmune disease against a specific organ like Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism, there is little help in direct organ support without correcting the cause. The mechanism for the issue is the immune response in the first place and not that the organ is deficient in any type of nutrient; the reason the person may need hormone replacement (such as Synthyroid) in hypothyroidism is because the immune system is actually destroying the cells, but replacement without halting the destruction is missing the point.
What does this all have to do with cancer? Everything! Remember, your Th1 response not only kills foreign enemies but helps mop up cells that are supposed to die when they’ve served out there usefulness. Cancer may be defined as cells NOT dying but instead reproducing a useless cell again and again. If a person has a Th2 dominant autoimmune disorder, their Th1 system will be suppressed. If your Th1 system is suppressed, normal cell death will be hindered.
When we look at a person that is not well, one of the first questions needs to be, “what’s the mechanism”. With cancer it’s no different. Why did you get cancer? Could it be that you’ve had a Th2 dominant autoimmune disorder for years and never even knew it?
Usually people with an autoimmune disease that involves a lot of destruction and therefore a lot of symptoms has a Th1 dominant disorder, that is, the immune response is stuck in a Th1 (killer cell, Marine Corps) attack. This typically brings about much tissue damage, much inflammation and a greater number of symptoms that causes them to seek medical care and arrive at a diagnosis. They eventually know they have MS, RA, Hashimoto’s, etc.
But the same process that may leave an individual ‘stuck’ in a Th2 dominant situation often produces a slower attack on tissue, lesser symptoms, a suppressed Th1 response and a chronic, undiagnosed condition. This can lead to secondary conditions from a suppressed Th1 response – cancer!
Neither the standard medical nor an alternative healthcare has adequately dealt with autoimmune conditions. Medically, the patient is given steroids, anti-inflammatories that may relieve the symptoms but do nothing to remove the cause; alternative doctors have supported to organ with glandulars or other supplements. Let’s face it, if either traditional medical or the alternative models had any great percentage of success treating autoimmune disease, you wouldn’t be reading this book because you probably wouldn’t have cancer.
Let’s reason together: Is it “reasonable” to think that if the part of my immune system responsible for aiding in normal cell death is suppressed, cell replication may proceed? Is it “reasonable” to think that maybe I should be checked for Th2 dominance? Is it “reasonable” that failure to discover the cause of immune dysregulation would lead to further destruction? I think it is “reasonable” that someone ‘out there’ must be able to find out what was causing the dysregulation; and I think that it is “reasonable” that if whatever was at cause for such dysregulation could be evaded, then it is “reasonable” that the damage suffered would at least slow down.
It is important to understand that an autoimmune disease is a ‘state’ that the immune system is in. It is NOT a disease of an organ; and even though it is given a multitude of names depending on the tissue currently affected, it is a STATE of the immune system attacking the tissue it was meant to protect.
Usually the immune system is slowly attacking the tissue over several years. And then, the person eventually has a great enough destruction that brings about symptoms that lead them to seek some type of doctor. In the case of Hashimoto’s, they often get diagnosed with hypothyroidism because their TSH is high. And then, the TSH is managed by replacement but no management for the immune response is initiated because it was never assessed. In the case of other autoimmune disorders, the patient is often misdiagnosed for years, even decades; and they are left laden with multitudes of drugs attempting to suppress their symptoms.
The autoimmune response is an inflammatory response, which produces chemicals called cytokines, which are part of the body’s natural defense system against outside invaders. Remember, the body’s immune system may be separated into a Th1 and a Th2 response. The Th1 response may be thought of as the police force or Marine Corps, the body’s initial strike force against an invader or what is called an antigen. When an antigen is present, the Th1 system fires and kills the virus; should the bug be of a nasty persuasion and strong enough to resist the Th1 response, the Th2 system kicks in, creates antibodies against the virus, tagging them so appropriate white blood cells can finish them off. A person with an autoimmune disease has this process stuck in the ‘on’ position, either hyper-Th1 or hyper-Th2, which prolonged, destroys the tissue where the antigen is recognized.
Hence, both the traditional medical and the traditional alternative models of care are doomed to failure. The most important battle to fight is to calm down their immune response and stop the destruction or in the case of cancer, decrease the Th2 response that is causing the Th1 suppression!
The “new model” we are proposing is simply to be more specific. If an autoimmune disease is a hyper-Th2 attack (Th2 dominant) against an antigen, doesn’t it make sense to do everything possible to find out what the antigen is, attempt to remove it and calm down the Th2 dominance? I’m no rocket scientist, but this makes sense to me. It’s logical and possible to find the specific biochemical pattern perpetrating the response so we can determine how we treat them.
If you can understand this chapter and the role of the immune system, you can understand how antigens (non-living toxins or nasty, hard to kill virus, mold, candida…) can be at the heart of cancer.
A MAJOR part of my practice is IDENTIFYING and ELIMINATING antigens! In doing so, the body can return to homeostasis (balance) and miraculously heal itself!