How Do Natural Killer Cells Fight Cancer?

Fighting Cancer Naturally
Fighting Cancer Naturally

Natural Killer Cells, or NK Cells, could be considered the body’s elite fighting force. These cellular warriors form the body’s first line of defense when it is invaded by viruses or other harmful agents and when it detects aberrant cells such as cancer cells that appear as “foreign”.

Living up to their name, Natural Killer Cells attack and kill tumor cells and virus-bearing cells by bombing them with protein granules. That these attacks take place at the microscopic level makes them no less devastating. Bombarded by a fuselage of protein “bombs,” tumor cells disintegrate and die in a process known as apoptosis, or programmed cell death.

The body’s immune system is divided into two divisions:

Innate responders, such as Natural Killer Cells, form the front lines of your immune system’s defensive force, providing immediate defense when cancer cells develop.

• Adaptive responders, which include T-cells (more about them next time), are your immune system’s occupying force, providing long-lasting protection and immunity from future attacks.

Natural Killer Cells evolve from lymphoid stem cells which originate in your bone marrow, as do all immune system cells. Lymphoid stem cells produce the lymphocytes that identify foreign invading organisms and “foreign” appearing cancer cells, so they can be targeted by the immune system. Administration of Issels Autologous Lymphocyte cancer vaccine may be included in individualized integrated immunotherapy programs to enhance immune system response and promote the activation of NK Cells.

Natural Killer Cells have been shown to eliminate solid tumors and metastatic cells circulating in the blood stream. A 2009 analysis of 129 cancer patients who underwent Issels Out-Patient Cancer Treatment at our Santa Barbara, California medical center showed an average 48% increase in absolute NK Cell levels after three weeks.

Using Thermal Therapy to Fight Cancer

Alternative Cancer Therapy
Alternative Cancer Therapy

Fever is one of the natural defensive weapons your body uses to fight infection. When bacteria, viruses, toxins or other foreign invaders cause infection, your body turns up the heat. Under the guidance of knowledgeable and experienced physicians, this powerful immune system response can be used to help fight cancer via a therapy known as Hyperthermia.

Also called Thermal Therapy or Fever Therapy, Hyperthermia is the deliberate heating of the whole body or affected parts of the body for therapeutic purposes. For many patients at Issels Alternative Cancer Treatment Centers, thermal therapy has proven to be a valuable and effective component of integrative cancer treatment.

Fever Therapy has a long history of medical use dating back centuries but fell out of favor with the traditional medical community with the rise of the pharmaceutical industry and development of fever-reducing drugs such as aspirin and acetaminophen. More recently, practitioners of western medicine have begun to realize that the body knows best.

As Discovery Fit & Health explains, “It used to be standard medical practice to knock that fever out as quickly as possible. Not so anymore. The value of fever is recognized.”

Hyperthermia is now being used to treat cancer at several university hospital centers in the U.S. and Europe; however, our founder, Dr. Josef Issels, recognized the value of invoking this powerful immune response in the treatment of cancer in the early 1950s. Trained in Dr. Issels’ effective techniques, Issels’ cancer treatment teams have extensive experience administering hyperthermia in the treatment of cancer. Visit our website to find out more about thermal therapy and our non-toxic integrated immunotherapy approach to cancer treatment.

Amish Girl Who Fled U.S. to Avoid Chemo Is Cancer-Free After Alternative Therapy

Childhood Cancer
Childhood Cancer

That 11-year-old Sarah Hershberger is cancer-free after undergoing alternative cancer treatments is wonderful news. That Sarah and her family had to flee the country to obtain the treatment that has made her healthy and are being treated like fugitives by their own country is considered by many Americans to be a travesty of justice and a breach of personal liberty.

If Sarah were an adult, her desire to stop the chemotherapy that was making her horribly ill and pursue non-toxic alternative cancer therapies would be respected and considered her decision to make. However, because Sarah was 10 years old when she was diagnosed with leukemia, those decisions were made by her parents.

Perhaps unwilling to look beyond the limited cancer treatment options offered by traditional medicine, the hospital administering the chemotherapy sued to force Sarah to continue treatments they believed would save her life. Unwilling to subject their daughter to more unbearable pain and suffering, Sarah’s parents left the comfort and support of their family and Ohio Amish community and fled the country with their daughter to obtain the alternative treatments they were convinced would make her well. Shortly after the family went into hiding the court appointed the hospital’s attorney, who is also a nurse, Sarah’s legal guardian with the power to direct her cancer treatments. Sarah’s parents have appealed the ruling and remain in hiding, although they have reportedly returned to the U.S.

Despite the hospital’s warnings, Sarah’s grandfather reports that Sarah is doing well and the “treatments are working.” He recently told the Associated Press that “blood and imaging tests” show that Sarah is now cancer-free.

New Research Finds Tantalizing Similarities between Aging and Cancer Cells

Similarities to Aging and Cancer Cells
Similarities to Aging and Cancer Cells

That cancer risk dramatically increases with age is a known fact. But why that is so has puzzled scientists. The general assumption has been that living longer simply increases our exposure to cancer-causing agents. However, a new study recently published in the journal Nature Cell Biology indicates that the very process of aging may play a major role in the connection between increased cancer risk and aging.

In studying the aging process of connective tissue cells, called fibroblasts, a team of Scottish researchers discovered aging cells exhibit many of the same DNA changes that occur in cancer cells. As explained on, as we age our cells go through a process called senescence which causes changes to the epigenome. The epigenome consists of the proteins and biochemical compounds that attach to and can alter our DNA. While not actually part of our DNA, epigenetic alterations can be passed from cell to cell during cell division.

When aging cells enter senescence, changes in the epigenome direct cells to stop dividing; however, as cells age they begin to lose control over their epigenome, leaving it more vulnerable to modification. Scottish researchers discovered that the epigenetic modifications that occur during senescence are remarkably similar to the epigenetic changes observed in cancer cells. Scientists hope the revelation will take them a step closer to solving the puzzle of how cancer cells are able to continue multiplying and ignore genetic imperatives to stop dividing.

Like the tumor microenvironment targeted by Issels integrative immunotherapy, the epigenome may turn out to play a surprising role in cancer treatment.

Cancer Care in Crisis: Are You Getting the Right Treatment?

Get Proper Treatment
Get Proper Treatment

Cancer care has become so complex that many physicians lack “core competencies in caring for patients with cancer,” warns a recent report, Delivering High-Quality Cancer Care: Charting a New Course for a System in Crisis, by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine (IOM). “Patients need to be asking, Is my doctor giving me appropriate treatment?” said cancer specialist Dr. Patricia Ganz of the University of California-Los Angeles. Gantz chaired the medical panel tasked with updating IOM’s 1999 report on the quality of U.S. cancer care. Progress has not been as great as hoped. “Barriers to achieving excellent care for all cancer patients remain daunting,” the new report notes.

Over the next two decades, an expected increase in new cancer diagnoses precipitated by the aging baby boomer generation and a predicted shortage of oncology specialists will make it more difficult to provide cancer patients with adequate care. But the growing complexity of cancer care in an age of genetic discovery is what most concerned the IOM panel.

As scientists continue to explore the genetic mechanisms of cancer tumors and the importance of the tumor microenvironment, highly individualized cancer treatments are expected to become the norm. The IOM panel expressed concern that the volume and speed of new cancer discoveries appears to be outpacing the ability of many physicians to keep up with new knowledge and apply it to patient treatment. That knowledge/treatment gap is only going to widen as cancer treatment moves away from one-size-fits all chemotherapy and radiation treatments and toward modern advanced targeted cancer therapies tailored to meet the specific individual needs of each cancer patient.

Study Links Allergies to Greater Blood Cancer Risk in Women

Allergies Linked To Cancer
Allergies Linked To Cancer

Women that suffer from airborne allergies, including hayfever, appear to be at greater risk of developing blood cancers, according to a study by researchers at Seattle’s Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. Curiously, a similar risk was not found among male allergy sufferers, prompting the research team to suspect “a possible gender-specific role in chronic stimulation of the immune system that may lead to the development of hematologic cancers,” Science Daily reported.

Allergies and cancer are both linked to dysfunction of the body’s immune system. “If your immune system is over-reactive, then you have problems; if it’s under-reactive, you’re going to have problems,” study leader Dr. Mazyar Shadman explained. “Increasing evidence indicates that dysregulation of the immune system, such as you find in allergic and autoimmune disorders, can affect survival of cells in developing tumors.”

Over an 8-year time span, the study tracked the health histories of 66,000 adults with no prior history of cancer malignancies other than non-melanoma skin cancer. The relationship between the development of blood cancers and various types of allergies was studied. Women with allergies to plants, grass and trees were found to have the highest risk of developing hematologic cancers. Researchers found study results surprising because men typically have a greater risk of developing blood cancers than women. Additional research is needed, but the chronic strain allergies place on an already weakened immune system may allow cancer the foothold it needs. Following in Issels’ footsteps, the American medical community is increasingly recognizing the importance of a strong immune system. Cancer vaccines to boost the immune system may someday become as common as allergy injections.