How Chemotherapy kills cancer cells

Chemotherapy and cancer drugs

Historically, chemotherapy set out to kill cancer cells by using the fact that they were rapidly dividing cells.

Normal healthy cells burn carbohydrate in the presence of oxygen for their energy in a complex 25 or 26 step process in the mitochondria, or cellular power stations.

Cancer cells burn glucose in the absence of oxygen, in a simple 4 step process.

This simple process requires lots of glucose, and the cancer cells work hard, dividing rapidly.

Chemotherapy traditionally set out to kill cancer cells - unfortunately taking many healthy, rapidly dividing cells with them (like nails, hair follicles and intestinal cells).

These Weapons of Mass Destruction are hopefully coming to an end. A new breed of drugs, called Biologics, seek to target a genetic factor, an enzyme or a protein unique to the cancer process, the theory being that they will only kill the cancer cell, and leave the healthy cells intact.

Unfortunately, cancer cells are clever and all too often they get round the drug, or learn to protect themselves.

You can read all about Biologics on this site. In An anti-cancer Diet For Chemotherapy Patients, you can read how to maximise the effectiveness of your chemo and protect your heralthy cells.

You can also follow this link: A recent study by Memorial Sloan-Kettering researchers sheds light on why certain cancer cells die in response to chemotherapy, while others stop proliferating and try to repair the damaging effects of the drug: www.mskcc.org/mskcc/html/11769.cfm.

Chemotherapy and cancer drugs
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