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Chris Woolmams / Catherine Woollams
Does Chemotherapy promote cancer?

Alarming study from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center in Seattle: Chemotherapy ´backfires´

Researchers from Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center in Seattle, lead by Peter Nelson M.D. have shown that chemotherapy drugs can CAUSE a cancer to come back, by producing a protein that stimulates cancer cell growth, even affording protection against further rounds of chemo! Chemo can cause 16-fold increases in this protective protein.


In Cancer Watch we have covered a number of research studies on the effectiveness of chemotherapy. Most notably the Australian study that looked at the contribution of Chemotherapy to increased survival in the USA and Australia and concluded that increased survival due to chemotherapy was less than 2.5 per cent.

We have also covered research suggesting that breast cancer chemotherapy may cause ´foggy brain´ and diminished response.

We have also covered research suggesting that some patients go on to get a second cancer years later and this may be caused to the original chemotherapy. But then that´s what we do - we bring you research.

We have also covered several studies that show cancer stem cells lie at the heart of cancer tumours - and there is no drug available today, that can kill cancer stem cells off. Thus many drugs can ´knock a cancer back´ by 40, 50, 60 or even 70%. But the cancer (from Breast to Multiple myeloma) can regrow.

(One study (2012 NCI, Dr Young S. Kim) showed that eating bad foods would cause the cancers to regrow; but eating foods with bioactive compounds such as sulphoraphanes, resveratrol, curcumin, piperine, Vitamin E and A, choline, EGCG (from Green Tea) and genistein, could stop the re-growth.)

The sad fact is that traditional chemotherapy is limited. The basic aim of most is to poison rapidly dividing cells, and unfortunately this includes rapidly dividing healthy cells too.

Not all drugs are ´chemotherapy´

It is important to note that in breast cancer treatment, for example, drugs like Tamoxifen and Aromatase Inhibitors should not be called chemotherapy as their action (respectively, to block cellular receptor sites, and to cut oestrogen production in the body) is quite different. Equally a host of new designer drugs are on their way with a completely different and very specific action; Herceptin is one such example.

However the fact is that there is hardly a cancer patient whose drugs do not include at least one old fashioned chemo offering.

It has long been known that in many cases the chemo drug seems to decrease the tumour size initially, but then a while later the tumour starts to grow again.

The reasons for this are usually explained because

        * The drug kills cancer cells, but not all of them are dividing during the treatment so some escape

        * Cancer is much more than just having cancer cells in one location it is a multi-step process, including metastatic pre-cancer activity. The chemo is simply incapable of taking out all the steps

        * Cancer cells become resistant to the chemo agent.

        * Several research studies have looked at the last point and we have covered those in Cancer Watch for example the study that showed cancers produced a protein designed to shut out the chemo agent.

New Research - Chemo CAUSES cancers to return 

New research by the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle (Nature Medicine) goes further. Much further.

It suggests that there is a risk that Chemotherapy may not work in the long-term because when chemo agents attack nearby healthy cells called fibroblasts, they produce a protein WNT16B which is taken up by adjacent tumour cells causing them to increase their growth and invasion rates, and also giving them immunity to further chemo attack. Researcher Peter Nelson M.D. talked of 16-fold increases in this protein level caused by the chemotherapy agents. (To read more: Click Here)

Put simply, despite good work at the outset, chemo may actually promote the re-growth of the cancer in the longer term.

These findings were confirmed using chemo with prostate cancer, breast cancer and ovarian cancer.

Cancer Research UK has attacked the media coverage of this research saying that
        1 We knew cancers may come back after chemo anyway
        2 It is wrong to alarm cancer patients about to have chemotherapy
        3 The idea that chemo ´backfires´ is not what the research concluded.

We have checked the research and the research did conclude that chemotherapy backfires. Full stop! And the researchers actually did say that they were ´surprised´ by the findings. Moreover, this was not a passive finding as CRUK suggest (i.e. cancers may come back a few years later; cancers sometimes return). This research said that chemo may actually CAUSE the cancer to come back.

Finally, there is an issue, obviously, over whether to tell patients or not. We have presented research in the past that showed surgery could spread cancer and the response by patients was overwhelmingly in favour of being told. And so we present this research too.

If there is a problem with chemotherapy possibly causing a cancer to return, then fix the problem. Sweeping it under the carpet and keeping it from people is not what patients want. After running this story for three days, again the overwhelming response is ´Thank you for telling us something this important´. 

We did exactly the same when German Scientists presented their findings at the European Breast Cancer Symposium - research concluded that Taxol could CAUSE metastases.

We think you have a right to know about the drugs you have been offered so you can make more informed personal choices.

Clearly, if replicated, these new findings also have incredibly serious implications for the whole cancer drug industry, especially when put together with the Professor Sikora article on the Lancet report on the inadequacies and apparent poor cost/benefit findings for a number of new designer drugs, the supposed next generation that was going to advance cancer drugs to a new level. (CLICK HERE to read article) 

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