Immune Support And Regulation
One of the reasons behind the survival and evolution of the human being on this planet is our immune system.
The immune system is in charge of the defense and repair process.
Through inflammatory response, the immune system is able to repair wounds and combat external agents.
The immune system is represented by white blood cells, which are composed of a large number of different cells with different functions, yet all with the common purpose of repairing, healing and defending our body.
Our immune system is in constant, ever-vigilant activity running all over our body and ready to face any possible threat.
Within this large family of white blood cells, there are clusters of cells with specific immunological activity as is the example of the T-cells, which in turn comprise another group of distinct cells, these cells have an important function against various diseases including cancer.
As we have already mentioned, cancer is a multifactorial disease in which immune dysfunction is part of these diverse etiologies.
To better understand this we use a simple example; Imagine the human body as a cell factory, these cells must maintain a specific order for the organ to be converted, this will help preserve the integrity of the organ and its function, as well as theintegrity and function of the system to which that organ belongs, thus generating balance.
Within this imaginary factory, we have a “quality control” department represented by a specific immune system action and mediated by T-cells, their job is primarily vigilance as to the “quality” of each cell in the body, in In other words, the immunesystem ensures that all cells are healthy in order for them to be fully functional.
When this happens, an inadequate immune response is unchained, where cells areunable to recognize the malignant cell as defective resulting in the absence of an immune response against these dysfunctional cells, this gives freedom to the malignant cell to multiply and implant themselves in other areas.
As a result we have an active immune response but no specific one, that is; the immune system is active but is not able to cope with the disease, generating damage in different adjacent tissues where there is tumor activity, as well as increasing the risk of pro-inflammatory complications such as lymph node growth, clot formation, vascular alterations, pain, etc.
The mere activity of the immune system is called inflammation, in situations where the immune system can cope with a threat and resolve it, the immune system will cease to be active and return to a vigilant state.
Chronic inflammation is defined as the activation of the immune system for a longer-than- normal period of time, where it typically fails to solve the problem it faces, becoming a factor of damage to the body through this constant pro- inflammatory activation.
In cancer, many of the symptoms and complications that patients present are due to the chronic inflammation they present. It is important to note, that this situation may vary in intensity from patient to patient.
Thanks to different blood markers we can use multiple lab-tests that allow us to determine the magnitude of the immune system activation, this is of great help to identify those patients with an over-active immunological response, with great possibilities of presenting some type of complication derived from this high and constant activation.
By definition, and based on what we have explained here, cancer is considered as a disease that generates immunological compromise, putting the patient at risk of not having proper immune response.
In conventional management and depending on the situation, the drug of choice for controlling the symptoms produced by chronic inflammation is dexamethasone, we can say that within the range of anti-inflammatory drugs this is the most potent, so much that it can suppress the immune response, putting the patient at even more risk for an inefficient immune response, in some cases leading to the need to perform prophylactic interventions with the use of antibiotics. On the other hand, this drug generates metabolic alterations as an undesired side effect, resulting in alterations in blood sugar levels, requiring in some cases medical management.
Another challenge we see with the use of anti-inflammatory drugs is; its high irritability to the gastric mucosa, where prolonged use of these drugs forces us to take preventive measures to protect the integrity of the digestive system.
Now, we are not questioning the use of such drugs or the need for its use in some cases, however, we must always take into account these unwanted effects and explore alternative management that may not only reduce symptoms but even decrease the dose or some cases eliminate the need for these medications.
As we said earlier, cancer by definition is considered a state of immunosuppression, and one of the angular treatments against cancer, chemotherapy, generates an important impact to this system, decreasing, in many cases severely, the number of white blood cells in circulation that are ready to respond to a threat, in other words, chemotherapy treatment brings an unwanted side effect which is immunosuppression, adding to the immune dysfunction often accompanied by cancer.
This is why it is very important to maintain the integrity and modulation of the immune system for the good of the patient and the disease (cancer). Try to limit immune damage as much as possible and consider combining other anti- inflammatory or immuno-regulatory measures where possible.
Agents such as Japanese Fungi, Chinese Herbs, Green Tea Extract, Tumeric or Curcumin, Essential Fatty Acids in High Doses, Probiotics and Vitamin D are a few I can mention.
All these agents have anti-inflammatory or regulatory properties of the immune system, in some cases they have even more attributable properties such as in the case of curcumin, where anti-inflammatory properties have been shown to have anti-angiogenesis properties.
Another example of great importance is the relationship between vitamin D deficiency and the development of chronic degenerative diseases, which is why it’s measurement is part of the range of blood tests that make up comprehensive assessment, this helps us determine the individuality of each patient and therefore develop a correct dose for each.
These multiple benefits in addition to the primary benefit, which would be the immune-modulation, we can observe practically in all the previously mentioned agents, another benefit to be noted is its possible long-term use without generating physiological alterations or damage, mainly to organs not related to the pathology to be treated; making these agents a great tool within the comprehensive treatment for cancer management.