Cancer occurs when our powerful immune system is weak or compromised, so the cancer cells are able to bypass it. With a holistic approach to immunity against cancer, it is possible to strengthen our in-built defence mechanism, both for prevention and healing. In this 3rd article from the series, find out how you can take concrete steps – physical, emotional, mental, relational and spiritual – to support your immunity.
According to available research, an average person typically has around 70 cell mutations in their lifetime. Any one of these mutations could lead to cancer … and yet, a large majority of them don’t.
Why? Because a healthy immunity against cancer is able to detect and deal with such mutating cells … it is only when the system is compromised that the odd cell will get through that begin its relentless cycle of uncontrolled growth and replication.
Immunity Against Cancer: Detection & Action Against Cancer
- When a healthy cell turns malignant, certain antigens on its surface also change, thereby making it different from normal cells.
- The immunity against cancer recognises this cancer-specific antigen as ‘non-self’ and immediately mounts a multi-pronged response.
- It despatches an elite group of natural killer (NK) cells to execute quick strikes against cancer cells, killing them instantly.
- Some cells produce interferons and interleukins which have specific anti-cancer properties and they are deployed if needed.
- And finally, the macrophages – the garbage collectors described above – also produce a Tumor Necrosis Factor (TNF) – its usually referred as the body’s natural chemotherapy – in the way it targets and destroys cancer cells so it works as immunity against cancer.
The Healer Within
So it is not for nothing that our immune system is called the healer within as its immunity against cancer. As our intelligent and faithful detective, policeman, judge, doctor, nurse, dispensary, not to mention courier, messenger, garbage collector and memory bank, it is biologically the ultimate inner guide and protector.
A Holistic Approach to Immunity
Immunity against cancer is pivotal in the healing process. Stress compromises immunity, we need to address it in a holistic way.
Medical science shows that cancer-causing stressors are physical in nature, and advocates that we stay clear of carcinogens and environmental pollution. Cultivating healthy dietary/lifestyle habits, on the other hand can boost immunity against cancer.
Mind-body medicine makes a strong case for addressing mental and emotional stressors. Either by eliminating them from our lives or developing better coping mechanisms to deal with them can boost immunity.
Eastern and Western psychology know that stressors can also be systemic ie, they can arise from within one’s family, work place or social network. Healing dysfunctional relationships can boost immunity against cancer.
Yoga and Chinese medicine understand stress as being caused by blocked energy. Shifting and moving our life force (qi/prana) can boost immunity.
Finally, stressors can also arise at the spiritual plane, for instance, from a distorted relationship with one’s higher/deeper Self or from asking existential questions like “Who am I?”, “Why am I here?”, “What is the meaning of Life”, etc. Cultivating a personal spiritual practice and following it consistently can also boost immunity.
- What changes can you make in your lifestyle – diet, exercise, rest, etc – to be physically healthier?
- How can you manage your mental and emotional stress differently, and better?
- Where can you find help and guidance to deal with your systemic and spiritual stressors?
More from this series
|Title||About the article|
|A Little Known Marvel||While there exist innumerable disease agents inside and outside of us (bacteria, viruses, toxins, cancer cells etc.), nature has also provided us with an in-built defence system which is constantly at work.|
|How It Works||The immune system mainly functions through a highly specialised group of cells that travel to every nook and cranny of our body through our blood and lymphatic system.|
|Dealing With Cancer||According to available research, an average person typically has around 70 cell mutations in their lifetime. Any one of these mutations could lead to cancer … and yet, a large majority of them don’t.|
|Mind Body Bridge||Until recently, medical science considered the immune system to be an independent, self-regulatory system.|