Cancer: The Costs, Causes, and Cures


Cancer is a major killer of people all around the globe. We do not have a
definite cure, but the amount of research done on this one disease costs on the
average of $1.2 billion dollars annually, and $20 billion annually in care of
cancer patients.

What is Cancer?

Cancer is a broad ranging term that is used by many people, including medical
professionals such as doctors. Cancer, in its most fatal and aggressive form, is
of a larger class of diseases known as neoplasms. There are two forms of a
neoplasm: benign or malignant. A benign neoplasm is encapsulated, or surrounded,
so that it\'s growth is restricted, whereas a malignant neoplasm is not closed in.
Malignant tumors grow much more quickly than benign forms and spread into the
surrounding normal tissue, and virtually destroy it, (Grolier Electronic
Encyclopedia, Cancer).

The question is, what exactly is cancer? Cancer, is the break down and mutation
of the cells of the body, when the DNA (Deoxyribonucleic Acid) sequences in
those molecules are disrupted and errors form in the structures, (Grolier,
Genetic Code). This mutation spreads through surrounding tissue until it
disrupts major systems in the body (such as respiratory, digestive and waste
management) cause that system to fail.

What causes Cancer to become active?

Since it is believed that almost all people have some type of cancer in their
body, (although benign), any person that comes in contact with a carcinogen,
(any cancer-causing agent), will cause these benign cells to become malignant.

It is when the cells become malignant, that cancer actually occurs. Cancer, in
this context, can be caused by many different agents; chemical, biological or
physical.

Chemical Agents

Chemicals that can cause a benign cell to become active include things such as
complex hydrocarbons, aromatic amines, certain metals, drugs, hormones, and
naturally occurring chemicals in plants and molds. Hydrocarbons and nitrosamines
can be found in cigarette smoke and may contribute to the condition called "lung
cancer". Other chemicals that seem to cause incidents of "bladder cancer", such
as 2-naphthylamine, were used in the dye industry for dyeing cloth, but when a
number of cases of cancer turned up, its use was discontinued. Vinyl Chloride, a
chemical gas, has also appeared, seeming to cause "liver cancer" ,(Grolier,
Cancer)

Drugs, such as some cancer-treating alkylating agents, are also carcinogens.
These agents are used to break the DNA strands in the cells, thereby killing the
cells, but it also effects the cells surrounding the tumor, actually making them
malignant. When these chemicals are used to treat cancer in this way, they must
in exact proportions for each person and if the dosage is incorrect, the
chemical will create a cancerous effect. Estrogens, a group of female hormones,
usually administered to women after menopause seem to cause an increased
incidence of cancer of the uterus. This has been alleviated today by
administering estrogen in combination with progesterone. Certain salts, that
contain arsenic, are suspected to casually relate to cancer of the skin and
liver, (Grolier, Cancer).

The suggestion that cancer is caused by an alteration of DNA within the benign
cell, was proposed by James and Elizabeth Miller in the 1960s, who demonstrated
that chemical carcinogens must be metabolized and broken down so that they may
interact with the DNA of the cells in question, directly, (Grolier, Cancer).

Biological Agents

Our own bodies, in conjunction with parasites found in different parts of the
world, have been related to the causes of many types of cancer. Some of the most
clearly established biological agents are the oncogenic (cancer-causing) viruses
that commonly cause the formation of neoplasms in lower animals have been linked
to some human cancers, and at least one has been definitely proven to cause
cancer of the blood (leukemia), (Grolier, Cancer).

Physical Agents

High energy and ultraviolet radiation are two of the major causes of human and
animal cancer. It has been proven that there is a relation between the sun\'s
ultraviolet rays, and the development of skin cancer in humans. Cancer caused by
radiation include just about every known variety, including leukemia, cancer of
the thyroid, breast, stomach, uterus and bone, (Grolier, Cancer).

It has also been suggested that electromagnetic fields can pose a risk of
contracting cancer when the field strength is extremely high. Power lines
running through cities and through the country, including large hydro towers
that carry power through the countryside, create such electromagnetic fields.
These fields are strong enough, in most cases, to light a oi= scent tube that a
person is holding just by walking underneath the power lines. In several
instances in the United States, especially in Washington and New York, the
fields are so