Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Free Radicals!

Actually, we don't want to free them. So terminology aside....

There has been growing medical evidence that when excessive "free radicals" are allowed to exist near the nucleus of the cell, significant damage to the DNA of the cell results. This "free radical" damage may then lead to mutation of the DNA of the cell. When the cell replicates, this mutation to the DNA is carried to the next generation of cells and the actual genetic damage that occurs can lead to abnormal growth of the cell.

Despite the "may", this is actually close to what does happen when cells turn into cancer cells: the genes are altered. The Oncotype DX tests 21 genes; the canadian algorhithm, 50. I'm going to look up the Seatlle computer model too.

Well, it is not what we're interested. Here's the title of his '96 paper:

Tumor progression to the metastatic state involves structural modifications in DNA markedly different from those associated with primary tumor formation

We're not very interested in metastatic cancer here. And not very interested in 14-year-old research. Let hope it stays that way!

The free radicals, though, changing genes -- this does seem to be an idea with merit and proof. Medical doctors want to be able to identify the change to be able to treat; nutritionists leave on a countering free radical agency tangent.

At the heart of most of this is one of my questions for my allergist/immunologist and my oncologist: in younger people with low-grade, low-stage tumors fully removed, and/or people with compromised gastrointestinal systems and immune systems, is it wise to depress the immune system in order to let the chemo deconstruct the cells more efficiently, or is it better to keep immune function up and at-risk systems protected to prevent permanent damage -- when the side effects *could* outweigh the small risk of -- not recurrent cancer (tho that risk is quite small), but recurrent, metastasized cancer (that risk is even smaller)?

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