NEWS UPDATE - 18 Nov 2015 -
Global task force tackles problem of untreatable cancers and disease relapse: non-toxic chemicals in plants and foods may be key.
Published today in Seminars in Cancer Biology (details here
People living in Canada, the USA, and many other western nations now have a 35-50% chance of getting some type of cancer in their lifetime. Lifestyle and other environmental factors are now known to be largely responsible for this problem, but to really understand the challenges that we face in trying to address this issue, you first need to understand the disease.
While many cancer charities and cancer prevention organizations are focused on the contribution of "lifestyle" factors as the primary modifiable causes of cancer, the state of cancer science has evolved rapidly, and we can now see that there may be other important environmental exposures of concern as well. For example, while many people have suspected for decades that low dose exposures to a wide range of chemicals that we encounter every day (e.g., pesticides, food additives, chemicals in cosmetics, chemicals in personal care products etc) may have a role to play in cancer causation, this has been very difficult to prove. The effects of mixtures of low dose chemical exposures is an area that we simply don't know a lot about, but this is an area that is important to understand and quite worthy of additional exploration.
Given all the cancer research that has been done so far, why do cancer patients who are being treated with chemotherapy still face so much uncertainty? Why do patients who have experienced a remission have to live in fear of a relapse?
One of the most important findings over the past decade is the fact that most cancers contain many different subpopulations of mutated cells that simply cannot all be reached using any single chemotherapy. Combination chemotherapy has been used by physicians in some instances to reach multiple targets simultaneously, but the narrow margins of safety associated with many of these drugs make this a difficult strategy to execute without excessive toxicity. Fortunately, however, there is a solution on the horizon that promises to help us to reach many cellular targets simultaneously with improved margins of safety....