Oh dear - immune system doesn't fight cancer - article

Well have been looking to see if diet /lifestyle can help prevent cancer progression, by strengthening the immune system, and have come across this article which suggests that trying to strengthen the immune system is pointless because the immune system doesn’t recognise cancer cells as foreign invaders. Makes a interesting read for those contemplating the Gerson programme etc.

by immune system do you mean the bit of our body that recognises invaders and attacks them??? Never thought the immune system was any good at that at all.

from my limited understanding (getting better by the day after reading Dr Love) i thought that cancer was our own cells mutating, so the imune system would never recognise them as an invader and never try to fight them. Even when cancer throws off cells to go round the body to try to settle somewhere else, its still one of our own cells, not a foreign invader.

I thought people who asked about immune systems on here were those who had had chemo, i was niave enough to think the chemo messed with that and so people wanted to strengthen up to stop infection, not to stop cancer spreading.

“that is my opinion and I might be wrong”

Not sure where that link is from or who is responsible for it but it goes against everything Ive read up on that the a healthy immune system is the only thing that protects us in the 1st place even my onc said this to me !

The article certainly makes for interesting reading.

Having had a compromised immune system for many years as a result of another illness, I asked both my GP and my oncologist whether this would have played any part in me getting breast cancer and the answer was an emphatic no.

I had a long discussion with my onc about this is and she was firmly of the opinion that the immune system is not able to recognise cancer cells because although mutated, they still contain DNA/RNA that the immune system recognises as ‘belonging’ and not foreign to our bodies.

What she did say was that a stronger immune system helps with overall health which can be an important factor when it comes to some of the well known cancer triggers - i.e. much of what we have discussed on the diet/health threads. I was told that sadly until scientists better understand the how process of how breast cancer works, whilst there are some things we can do as individuals to protect ourselves, a lot of it is still down to just plain old bad luck.

For me personally improving my immune system now is all about recovering from the damage inflicted on it by chemotherapy and I’ve read some wonderful advice and ideas here on BCC for which I am hugely grateful.

I think this could be another hugely complex subject.

You might like to look at this link on immunotherapy on the American Cancer Society website. There is a section on immunotherapy by type of cancer:


A simpler general explanation is from Cancer Research UK:


I also have this one from a breast cancer site on the subject


Another good read I had book marked


Hi Lemongrove,
Yes ive read a lot about this subject before its very interesting isnt it how cancer cells are not always reconised by the immune system, il see if i can dig out some of my own research into the subject, if i can find it again il put it up later.


Ah, yes this is from Johns Hopkins Cancer Center “Email hoax contention #3: A Strong Immune System Destroys Cancer”

When it comes to cancer and the immune system, it is not a matter of strong or weak as the fictional report contends, but rather an issue of recognition. “The immune system simply does not recognize cancer. In its complexity, the cancer cell has learned to disguise itself to the immune system as a normal, healthy cell. Cells infected with viruses or bacteria send out danger signals setting the immune system in action. But cancer cells do not, explains Elizabeth Jaffee, co-director of cancer immunology and leading expert on cancer and the immune system.” By deciphering the methods cancer cells use to make them invisible to the immune system, Jaffee and team have developed cancer vaccines that have successfully triggered immune reactions against prostate cancer, pancreatic cancer, leukemia, and multiple myeloma.


Very intersting i though, as i expect most of us would have naturally thought that haveing a strong immune would help fight cancer.


Ive read several reports on these vaccine & trials they all look very promising & probably the way forward with all cancers, shame the UK is so far behind the USA & other countries with these trial seems we always get the butt end compared to the rest of the world when it comes to health care :frowning:

There is just so much conflicting information, it’s difficult to know what to think or do. I actually asked the Professor in charge of my treatment if improving my immune system would help prevent progression, and he said only in the sense that it would improve my general health. He added that the immune system is hardly implicated in breast cancer because the immune system does not recognise cancer cells as foreign bodies (and therefore doesn’t attempt to fight it), and in any case, once cancer cells have got past the immune system (which is the case with metastatic cancer), the cells become increasingly aggressive - meaning that the immune system would find it harder to deal with them any way.
Trouble is though, there is also the theory that we have cancer cells floating round our system all the time, and our immune system keeps them under check - so how does that happen, if the immune system doesn’t recognise cancer cells? Having tried to research this the suggestion is that it is all to do with the type of cancer we get, rather than whether our immune systems fight cancer. In other words, most of the time, the cancer cells we have floating round out system do not cause any problem, because they are not aggressive, but when we are unfortunate enough to get aggressive cancer cells it’s a different story.
But at the end of the day, who knows? Scientists disagree about this stuff, so I guess we have to make up our own minds.

I would have to read that bit of susan loves book again, but i dont think that its the immune system that keeps the cancer cells in different parts of our body in check, its the cells around them. If they are healthy and the cancer cell is in its early stages then the other cells encourage it to behave and not develop, so it lays dormant. These are body cells, nothing to do with the immune system. Then one day years later something compromises the health of those other cells and they can no longer keep the cancer under control so it mutates to the next stage and grows.

Yeah defo comflicting reports all over the place I do find the reports on ‘trying’ to improve the NK cell activity with all that ive read on the subject these are the only hope with the ‘T’ helpers that DO recognise the rogue cells & put them into a ‘suicide mode’ I know the vaccine trials out in the USA up & running at the moment are aiming at this theory !

The report 1st posted quite disheartening when you think about it I said to myself after reading it, this being the case we are all pretty s**ewed :(( because the chemo & rads don’t keep it at bay theres only so much you can have of those

I feel a bit deflated now to be honest

Hi OAL yes I read that too & I think its something that shuts down in the immune system that stops those cells doing there job proper, usually a nasty illness/ bacterial viral infection/ extreme stres/ grief etc etc its explained very well in one of the books Ive got one of the 3 Elinda mentioned on the other thread (male Auther) he goes into great detail on this subject.

O&L, there are just so many theories aren’t there?.
I have just found a very interesting article by the Cancer Institute (see link below), that suggests that sometimes the immune system fights cancer and sometimes it doesn’t, and they go on to talk about all the different approaches to harnessing the immune system to fight cancer -such as genetic engineering, and immunotherapy. Unfortunately they don’t say whether diet has any effect, but it’s very worth a read.

yes thats the one I was reading I posted link on page one no they dont mention diet

Sorry Melakar, I should pay more attention to the links others provide.

no not at all im pleased you read it :slight_smile:

The thing is there are so many different types of cancer, and therefore conflicting reports. My Onc told me that with my particular type, very aggressive fast dividing that FEC, TAX and Herceptin would work well as one attacks only fast dividing cells and therefor gets the bad (C) in with the good (Hair, nails etc). The TAX is hell on your immune system but try to keep it healthy to fight other regular infections. Then the Herceptin attaches a marker to the cells to get the immune system to attack them. So with the first the immune system is shot to bits with the chemo, but now the bio (as they call Herceptin here) works with a healthy immune system!! I don’t google anymore it’s too confusing and scary!! My Onc said it’s a big no no as you don’t really know if they are even real docs on the sites, and there are lots of false ones out there, like the John Hopkins report for instance. I used to be an information freak but this thing has made me bury my head in sand quite a bit I’m afraid :frowning: