Since many of you don’t seem to understand my problem with Somers and her cancer plan, perhaps a bit of a lesson in what cancer is will help. This is simplified for ease of understanding and for brevity, but you will get the point. Even though simplified for brevity, this is still a much longer post than I usually make. Cancer is a complicated subject.
Normally, your cells do their job. Each cell has a job to do, and they sit there and happily carry out their cellular business 90-96% of the time. During this time, a cell is very busy synthesizing proteins, copying DNA into RNA, engulfing extracellular material, processing signals, whatever its job is. The rest of the time, 4-10% of the time, the cell is busy copying its DNA and dividing to create its own replacement in a process called mitosis. Mitosis happens about once every 24 hours, on average. Some cells like hair follicles do it more often, while other cells like nerve cells, less so.
Your DNA is like a novel contained in the nucleus of your cell. It contains all of the information that your cells need to do their jobs, live their lives, and carry out everything that your body does- from your intelligence, to your looks, your health, and even your behavior. It’s all programmed in there using “words” spelled with chemicals called base pairs. These base pairs are made of four “letters”- G, C, A, and T. There are 3.2 billion of these letters in human DNA. They each must get copied when the cell undergoes mitosis, and they must be copied with complete accuracy.
The process of copying their DNA so the cell can carry out mitosis is incredibly accurate. The error rate during DNA replication is as low as 10^−9 to 10^−11 errors per base pair. Errors can be caused by exposure to chemicals that alter the DNA, by certain viruses, by ionizing radiation, or simply a bad chemical reaction. There are “checkpoints” built into the process that detect and correct errors in the DNA replication and will halt the process or even cause the cell to die if correction can’t be done. Cells are programmed through their DNA to only copy themselves a limited number of times before they die off in a process called apoptosis. They will also undergo apoptosis if errors in this DNA copying process happen.
Sometimes, there are errors that slip through. Most of the time, these errors aren’t a big deal. Sometimes they are, and that is what causes cancer. When this happens, there are processes in your body’s immune system that are supposed to locate and destroy these out of control cells, because cells damaged by cancer release a chemical called tumor necrosis factor (TNF). More on that in a future post.
Cancer cells flip the whole mitosis process on its head. They not only fail to undergo apoptosis, they also spend most of their time in mitotic division- making copies of themselves. They multiply out of control, creating tissue that is using more and more of the bodies resources as they multiply out of control.
So cancer is a failure of two parts of the body: the cancerous cells that have lost the ability to undergo apoptosis through a transcription error that appears in their DNA, and the immune system whose job it is to find and eliminate cancerous cells.
There are no magic foods that halt this process, because it is an error in the DNA of the cancerous cells that are causing the problem, and once there is a “spelling” error, there is no way to correct this spelling error in a cancer cell’s DNA. The best you can do is kill off the cancer cell. The “daughter” cells, being an exact copy of the cancerous cell, will also be cancer cells.
The tumors eventually grow large and numerous enough that they use up all of the organism’s resources. This is why cancer patients begin losing weight and looking so sickly. The tumors are spending so much time and energy replicating that there aren’t enough resources remaining.
There are a few ways to get rid of cancer. The main ones are:
Surgery. We use surgery to literally cut tumors out of the body. This doesn’t cure the cancer, it merely lowers the size of the tumor, and thus the energy requirements being used up by the cancer. The issue is that surgery can’t possibly get every cancer cell, so all this does is buy time.
These multiplying cells create their own environment- they cause the body to create new blood vessels to feed the growing tumor in a process called angiogenesis. There are drugs that prevent angiogenesis, and taking these causes the tumors to be starved out.
The growing cells also have one exploitable flaw- they are spending so much time multiplying that they don’t have time to repair damage to themselves. This can be used to our advantage. That’s what chemotherapy and radiation therapy do- they damage all of the cells in your body. The healthy cells then repair themselves in between sessions, the cancer cells do not. The more sessions of chemo or radiation that you undergo, the more unrepaired damage is done to the cancer cells, and the cancer can eventually be killed off this way.
No treatment is 100% effective at eliminating cancer, because no matter how effective, there will always be a cell or two left that the treatment didn’t eliminate. The earlier that a cancer gets detected and treatment begins, the better the results. Although there are no curable cancers, melanoma, Hodgkin lymphoma, and breast, prostate, testicular, cervical, and thyroid cancer have some of the highest 5-year relative survival rates. The 6 cancers with the lowest survival rates are lung cancer, liver cancer, brain cancer, esophageal cancer, stomach cancer, colon and rectal cancer.
Since everyone is different, and so is the DNA error that causes the cancer, each person and each cancer will respond differently to treatment. That’s why one person can get breast cancer and survive, while another does not. This is why people like Suzanne Somers live for twenty years, while someone else doesn’t. Writing a book about how your special diet is the reason why you aren’t dead yet is a complete scam. You are alive because of the random chances of fate and the simple mathematical variances of chance, not because you have the cure for cancer by eating beet roots.
What makes her claims of a cure so despicable is that the people who forego medical advice to try her cure frequently discover the truth that it doesn’t work months or even years down the road, and it is then too late for them to be treated for what may have been a cancer that was easily treatable.