Chemotherapy Can Lead To More Cancers

Wednesday, 28 August 2019

Despite advances in understanding the development of cancer and how it spreads, the method of cancer treatment has not changed much. For the past several decades the main treatment options for a cancer patient have been surgery, chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy. Although there are newer chemotherapy drugs available to treat cancers, the cancer death rate continues to rise. Each of the current treatment options is associated with inherent risks and side effects and most patients are submitted to some combination of these options.

Chemotherapy drugs are designed to kill the rapidly growing cells, and therefore they attack cancer cells as well as healthy cells in the body. Due to such indiscriminate killing of all cells, the chemotherapy drugs cause wide spread damage in the body. All the well-known side effects from chemotherapy ranging from nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and hair loss to decreased immunity and its complications, bleeding, and damage to the vital organs can be attributed to this non selective cellular destruction. In some cases the patient succumbs to the side effects of the treatment earlier than the cancer itself. Studies show that chemotherapy drugs could be killing up to 50% of patients in some hospitals within the first month of initiation of the treatment. However, these may not be only temporary side effects as is perceived by everyone. Most of the chemotherapy drugs are also linked with secondary cancers.

The cellular components left over after a cell dies as a result of chemotherapy (called the cell debris), can be dangerous too. Such cell debris can induce inflammation, which in turn can lead to other cancers. To investigate the cancer-inducing potential and other damages caused by such cell debris, the scientists at the Dr. Rath Research Institute recently conducted a study by using breast cancer cells and cancer cell debris in animal models. One group of mice was exposed to the breast cancer cells together with debris generated by the chemotherapy drug, docetaxel, and another group of mice was exposed only to breast cancer cells. The results indicated that the group of mice that was given the cancer cell debris after docetaxel showed significantly more pronounced tumor growth than the mice that were exposed only to breast cancer cells. The weight of the tumors in the first group of mice was 40% higher than the second group. Additionally, the cancer cell debris also aggravated the inflammatory markers tumor necrosis factor (TNF-alpha) and interleukin (IL-1). The tumors developed in the docetaxel-induced cell debris group had higher levels of tumor promoting markers and other angiogenetic factors such as VEGF indicating their potential to further promote additional tumors. This group also showed increased secretion of matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) enzymes, which are known to digest collagen and are closely associated with cancer’s spread (metastasis).

The actual safety of chemotherapy drugs is already debatable. However, our study is another confirmation that these drugs not only cause temporary side effects, but they significantly promote cancer growth and recurrence of cancer, for which the drugs are originally intended as a treatment.

Ref: M. W. Roomi, et al., J CM & NH, Aug 2019

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