It is your immune system that stops cancer in its tracks.
It is the job of your immune system to keep you healthy.
It is your job to keep your immune system healthy.
In order to keep your immune system healthy, it helps to know the basics of how your (immune) cells function.
I once won a lamb at a charity silent auction. That was an experience because I didn’t know the first thing about how to take care of a lamb. It would have helped if I had known at least a few basics. After a few weeks, I gave the lamb to a local 4-H club. The point in mentioning this incident is to illustrate the importance of knowing at least a few fundamentals about how your cells operate.
The starting point is to be aware of three key facts about all of the cells in your body. First, all of your cells are packed with intelligence – your DNA contains all of the instructions (genes) for what that cell is supposed to do. Second, each cell has thousands of receptor sites on the outside of its cell membrane. Through these receptor sites the cell receives messages from other cells. Third, each cell is acutely aware of its environment, which includes your every thought.
The genes in each cell tell that cell what to do. However, all the cells in its environment tell each cell what to do next. The wonder of this is demonstrated in the development of a single “first” cell into a complete living human body.
“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.” ~ Psalm 139:13
Every cell in your body comes from a fertilized egg – the single cell that contains your unique DNA. How does this first cell end up as so many different kinds of cells that form a human being?
In the development of the embryo, we know cells grow and divide – one cell divides and becomes two “daughter cells.” Second, each of these daughter cells differentiates. They become specialists such as bone cells, nerve cells, immune cells, and all other cell types in the body. Third, they migrate to various locations; and fourth, they influence the behavior of their neighbors.
In a most profound phenomenon, one week after fertilization, the cells that will become the baby assemble themselves into a complex formation. These cells begin crawling over one another, pushing between each other, tunneling deep into the mass of other cells to take the exact position in the embryo for their unique development. In other words, when a cell divides into two daughter cells, although they have exactly the same set of genes, they have different neighbors. To visualize this, picture two twins sitting in the stands at a large stadium. The people to the left, to the right, directly behind, and directly ahead of each twin are different. The signals, or messages, that arrive at a given cell depend upon that cell’s location in relationship to its neighbors. It is these signals that switch on or off different genes within each unique cell. This is why one cell crawls off to the perfect location within the embryo to become a heart, for example, while its “twin” has a completely different destiny.
This process is beyond our comprehension, but not beyond our ability to marvel at its complexity. Within three weeks after fertilization, when the embryo is no bigger than a sesame seed, a heart has been formed and is beating!
You are made up of approximately 10 trillion cells. Cell division happens at least 10 million times in an adult human body every second. Every time cell division happens, your DNA needs to be copied. This is a complex process and mistakes are bound to happen. There are several built-in checks and balances to catch and repair gene mutations, but they still go undetected and a daughter cell, due to gene mutation, loses its ability to receive the signal to stop proliferating – to die. The result is a cell-run-amok that, if not stopped, will keep reproducing endlessly without regard to functioning as part of the community. This cell has become a cancer seed.
This seed, if not stopped, will form a tumor that by the time it is detected may have more than 100 million cells. Researchers believe that these cancer cell seeds arise in the body every day, but the immune system’s natural killer cells eliminate them before they can get a foothold and cause trouble. Only when the immune system is somehow suppressed do tumors develop to the danger point.
This is why it is important for you to be aware of how sensitive a single cell is to its environment. Remember, each cell’s genes determine what that cell will do; but, the messages from its neighbors, and its environment, determine what that cell does next.
In this respect immune cells actually read your mind. Negative thoughts cause the brain to secrete stress hormones that suppress the immune cells.
Each cell in your body receives information from its environment and responds to it purposefully. Genetic mutations are the root cause of cancer. All cancers begin when the genetic material in a single cell becomes damaged by one or more of many different types of cancer-causing agents known as carcinogens. We are exposed to carcinogens all of the time.
Your body is well equipped to prevent, heal, and stop the spreading (metastasis) of cancer. Cancer is thwarted and healed by a healthy immune system all of the time. There are many steps you can take to restore the health of your immune system. It starts with the awareness of how individual cells function – cancer is fought at the cellular level. However, as the American Institute for Cancer Research cautions: “We humans are notoriously terrible at self-awareness.”