Cancer 2

Continued from yesterday….

After I found one photo of a cancer cell online, I started finding a lot more.

Many of them were pictures of dividing cells joined by double cones, much like my constant A/V ratio cells (shown at right).

I wondered what might be dangerous about such cells, and it struck me immediately that cells like this, if they were long enough, could push past adjacent cells. Something like 40% of the human body consists of extracellular fluid that surrounds cells. So there’s probably plenty of space for cells to do this. By contrast, short cells (i.e. most normal cells) wouldn’t extend far enough, and if they could grow at all, they’d grow in situ. Cells with a long extension, if they were sufficiently energetic, could push their way past adjoining cells, first forming local tumours, and then metastasising into surrounding tissues. They’d be malignant cancer cells.

The longest cells (at the point of division) that I came across were HeLa cells. Below is a video of HeLa cells dividing over a 27 hour period ( 0.5 hours per snap). They divide almost explosively, moving far apart, and appear capable of easily pushing past adjoining cells.

Dividing cells with a short extension, that couldn’t escape in this way, would be confined to the locality where they first appeared. If they were energetic enough – pushy enough – they could form a local ‘benign’ tumour, which might if it grew large enough break through to surrounding tissues. Which suggests that cancer cells are rather more energetic – more pushy – than normal cells (shown in green). I’ve read occasionally that cancer tumours have a slightly higher temperature than surrounding tissue, which would be consistent with a higher energy consumption.

Another way that dividing cells might get past surrounding cells is if they’re small enough to slip between them. Such cells might not be particularly energetic or pushy. They might form a local tumour, and as the pressure in the tumour rose, small cells could be expelled into the local tissues.

Ordinary cells, which don’t seem to divide with cones connecting the two halves of the cells, would appear to have a short extension, and to be less energetic than cancer cells.

I was rather surprised that none of these characteristics of cancer cells received any attention in descriptions of the characteristics of cancer cells, which were described as uncontrolled proliferation, invasiveness, indefinite lifespan, loss of normal function, lack of adhesion. What they looked like didn’t seem to matter much, although it seemed to me that quite a lot could be deduced from their appearance, particularly while the cells were dividing. And in fact, many of the given characteristics of cancer cells seem to grow from their visible behaviour.

For if cancer cells can push past adjacent cells in the various ways that I have described, then they are inherently invasive, and also inherently likely to proliferate. And if a cancer cell escapes from the locality where it first appeared (for example, as a liver cell), the characteristics which had survival value there might not have any value elsewhere. If, by analogy, a Durham coal miner finds himself moved to Brighton, his mining skills may be of little value because there are no mines in Brighton (that I know of), and he’s likely to lose those skills as he learns new skills. Same with cells – a liver cell in a lung has the wrong skill set.

All of which inclines me to think that cancer cells may be a bit like vagrants. Normal cells – the cells in livers, kidneys, lungs, etc – would be solid citizens living in the suburbs and holding down steady jobs. But the cancer cell is a drifter (and perhaps a highwayman) who has lost his job and his home. If so, life is probably pretty hard for cancer cells, rummaging through dustbins for scraps of leftovers. Which may be why many of them don’t survive. And why those that do survive are often highly aggressive and energetic.

There’s quite likely a process of natural selection of cancer cells. As cancer cells multiply, some variants of them fare better than others, and these survive and have offspring which are even better adapted (as highwaymen, pirates, muggers, burglars, etc) to living on mean streets. So what starts out as a relatively innocuous form of cancer may gradually mutate into a successful variant whose numbers might occasionally explode (e.g. when they learn how to rob banks).

This is a variant of my nomads and settlers account of human society. The cellular settlers are the normal cells living in co-operative societies. The cancer cells are wandering nomads.

To be continued…

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32 Responses to Cancer 2

  1. Pingback: Cancer 1 | Frank Davis

  2. Richard Green says:

    This is the DINOMIT model proposed by Dr Garland that you have discovered. I am impressed by your reasoning, Richard Feynman would be impressed as well. See

    • Frank Davis says:

      Very interesting. I’m a bit too sleepy to study it closely right now though.

    • Frank Davis says:

      In outline, Garland’s theory seems to be that Vitamin D deficiencies result in cells ceasing to adhere to each other, and ceasing to be contact-inhibited from new growth and division. Cells start multiplying, and the ones that multiply fastest come to predominate (in a process of natural selection). These multiplying cells overgrow surrounding cells, and get everywhere. The solution is to take lots of Vitamin D tablets, or get some sunshine.

      This is a little bit like my secondary notion of natural selection of cancer cells. But he’s not using my constant A/V ratio cell growth and division model, or any model of cells that grow very long when they divide. And this is central to my approach.

      So while I’d say they were some similarities, these are really two quite different ideas.

  3. Rose says:

    I give up.

    I have been looking for hours for an early study that I posted only once on the Doctor’s blog, I think it was from the 40’s, as an example of how easy it is to get the wrong end of the stick.
    The scientist had observed that the tissues around a tumour were depleted of nicotinic acid and rather than realising that it was the aftermath of the body fighting a battle to destroy the cancer, they thought it meant that the tumour was feeding on the nicotinic acid to grow.

    It’s a long shot, but does anyone have a copy of that study?
    It isn’t in the Garden so I may have posted it sometime after 2009.

    Of course time has moved on since that study was done.

    “A new interest in the relationship between niacin and cancer has evolved from the discovery that the principal form of this vitamin, NAD, is consumed as a substrate in ADP-ribose transfer reactions. Poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase, an enzyme activated by DNA strand breaks, is the ADP-ribosyltransferase of greatest interest with regard to effects on the niacin status of cells since its Km for NAD is high, and its activity can deplete NAD. Studies of the consequences of DNA damage in cultured mouse and human cells as a function of niacin status have supported the hypothesis that niacin may be a protective factor that limits carcinogenic events.”

    But back when the study was done, nicotinic acid had only just been discovered as being in anyway valuable and then only as the cure for pellagra..

    “Conrad A. Elvehjem, (May 27, 1901 – July 27, 1962), was internationally known as an American biochemist in nutrition. In 1937 he identified a molecule found in fresh meat and yeast as a new vitamin, nicotinic acid, now called niacin”

    But up until then nicotinic acid was only known as a product of the oxidization of nicotine.

    Organic Syntheses, Coll. Vol. 1, p.385 (1941); Vol. 4, p.49 (1925).

    Submitted by S. M. McElvain
    Checked by J. B. Conant and B. B. Corson.

    “In a 5-l. round-bottomed flask is placed 4 kg. (2816 cc.) of c.p. concentrated nitric acid (sp. gr. 1.42) (Note 1). To this is added, in 25-cc. portions, 210 g. (1.23 moles) of nicotine (Note 2).”

    Do you catch my drift?

  4. Rose says:

    By strange coincidence, “Nicotinic Acid Determination in Body Tissues” is printed right beside “Abuse of Tobacco and Carcinoma of Lungs”, translated into English in the Journal of the American Medical Association, published 30th Sep 1939

    Klinische Wochenschrift, Berlin

    Nicotinic Acid Determination in Body Tissues
    July 8 1939

    “Ritsert describes the procedures for and the results of determining the nicotinic acid and the nicotinic acid amide content in the urine, organs and blood of human and animal bodies.”

    Zeitschrift Fur Krebsforschung, Berlin

    Abuse of Tobacco and Carcinoma of the Lungs. F. H. Muller.
    June 24 1939

    “Muller states that considerable increase of primary carcinoma of the lungs has been observed in the recent decades.
    To explain this increase various causes have been pointed out, such as increased • street dust, exhaust gases of motor cars, tarring of the streets, war gases, x-rays, trauma, influenza, tuberculosis and increasing industrialization.

    There appears to be agreement only as to the exogenic character of the causes. Increased attention has been called of late to the significance of smoking as a cause of carcinoma, and the simultaneous increase of carcinoma of the lungs and consumption of tobacco supports this view.”

    • smokervoter says:

      This is a very belated reaction to Rose’s gem of link regarding those organic cigarettes meant to appeal to hipsters who shop vinyl stores and farmer’s markets.

      To anyone who has read my comments before it’s pretty clear that I’m sort of an anti-hipster, having once spent over a decade in the hipster capital of the world in Santa Cruz, CA. Suffice it to say that I’m comfortably in with the out crowd and out with the in crowd.

      One of the first used vinyl stores popped up in Santa Cruz during the early 80s when they were still selling new ones. The ex-wife and I liked to go down there to snag old Hank Williams Sr. & Johnny Cash albums and the like. It goes without saying that we always had the country & western rack all to ourselves. Even the ridiculous Urban Cowboy fad had come and gone by then.

      I still treasure an old 33 & 1/3rd platter we found (one of the harder vinyl variety it is so old) that contains the Hank Williams classic “Lost Highway”. In fact I just put it on the turntable and listened to it – about 20 times in a row as usual. What a song. What a soulful voice and a simple, plain vanilla arrangement. No drummer, but you’d never know to listen.

      For reasons unknown, onions have gone from being Chevrolet vegetables to pricey Cadillac’s. Onions are essential vegetables to me. They can even make liver palatable, esp. when used in conjunction with mystic Worcestershire sauce*.

      To remedy this budget-busting quandary I took a little trip down to the local farmers market a while back, thinking that lower transport costs and the lack of a middleman’s share would result in Chevrolet onions. No such thing; they cost more than the supermarket offerings, but they were labeled organic, so we all know how that goes.

      I wrote a short piece on that outing over at Livejournal Pro Smokers a couple of years ago.

      My Trip to the Local Hipster Farmers Market

      I imagine those organic cigarettes will cost somewhere between the price of gold and bottled water.

      * Frank, I understand that Worcestershire and Herefordshire are in the same vicinity. That sauce has a very unique flavor. It’s kind of like a highbrow Anglo-Saxon sweet and sour sauce if you will.

      • churchmouse says:

        Worcestershire sauce was developed in India during colonial days to help the British deal with meat that was past its best. If I remember correctly, it was part preservative and part flavour enhancer.

        On onions — they’re expensive here, too. Same for prices at our farmers markets.

  5. Margo says:

    I am trying to understand all this, from a starting point of almost total ignorance and minimal science background (and also I can never see the videos on this site – don’t know why, just get black screen with tantalising bits of pic coming and going). Do ‘cancer cells’ start off as ordinary cells? But something out of the ordinary happens (for some reason) at some point – i.e. they keep on growing and dividing when they should stop, or the normal cells fail to kill them off when they should, or they create themselves in the first place when they’re not needed, and then the normal cells can’t kill them off?? Why? Why?

    • Frank Davis says:

      from a starting point of almost total ignorance

      Me too.

      But I think that cancer cells do start off as normal cells, and then they get transformed in some way, and become fast-multiplying cancer cells.

      Why? Why?

      Nobody knows.

      • Margo says:

        I’ve read your other earlier piece now, that you referred to, about settled co-operative communities and nomadic individuals and see the comparison you’re making. It’s a weird thing about the ‘natural selection’/survival idea, because the wayward cell that’s decided not to co-operate and just to run off and do its own pushy thing is actually going to kill the host and so die itself, so in the long run it’s a suicidal way to behave.
        Nobody knows, you say.
        I wonder, I wonder, how a cell knows what to do, anyway, how it knows it’s a liver cell or part of an ear or whatever in the first place, and how it knows when to stop dividing, when to die, etc. Something goes wrong with the ‘message’ part of things, it seems.
        How weird to be a scientist and spend 50-odd years researching cancer and end up still not knowing.

  6. cherie79 says:

    My surgeon said that a healthy immune system controls the growth in cells. When it fails the cells start to grow out of control eventually forming a tumour thus anything which compromises your immune sytem puts you at risk and the cells will develop in your particular weak point. This would manke sense in my case where my immune system seemed to collapse after my husband’s sudden death and I was constantly ill with one thing after another for about six months. I have seen this happen to quite a few people after a traumatic shock. I am sure it is not the only cause but, in my opinion, stress does have a role in the development of cancer.

    • harleyrider1978 says:

      Cherie that could also explain why so many married couples tend to die within a couple of years of their spouces!

      • cherie79 says:

        Could be, it was three and a half years after my husband’s death that the cancer was picked up incidentally, I had no symptoms at all. Had it not been picked up I would most likely have died about a year or two later, surgeon said that is would have taken about three years to develop. Another friend developed cancer within a year of his daughter’s suicide, as it was gullet cancer he had the early symptom of not being able to swallow and survived.

    • Margo says:

      Yes, there’s definitely something in this. I had about 10 solid years of illness (not cancer, but one thing after another) following an extremely traumatic time. Then, suddenly, it all stopped. I think it was a kind of ‘breakdown’ but it wasn’t recognised. Maybe my immune sytem crashed. Anyway, I had to stop working, and hence am poor forever more.
      But what exactly is the ‘immune system’? Do we know?

  7. harleyrider1978 says:

    O/T But if you havent hit this story comments yet READ EM! Its hillarious

    UK Could Be A ‘No Smoking Nation’ By 2032Campaigners want to make cigarettes more expensive and too socially unacceptable for most people to continue smoking.

    • harleyrider1978 says:

      The TIDE she is aturning,get this:

      John Holmes
      1:44 PM on 1/9/2012

      It was John Stuart Mill who, in his essay On Liberty, said:

      “Neither one person, nor any number of persons, is warranted in saying to another human creature of ripe years that he shall not do with his life for his own benefit what he chooses to do with it. All errors he is likely to commit against advice and warning are far outweighed by the evil of allowing others to constrain him to do what they deem his good.”

      These lifestyle Laws are MORALLY REPUGNANT

    • harleyrider1978 says:

      Sounds like a surrender headline from the nazis! Our collectivist ship maybe be sinking but we refuse to abandon ship. Onward with even more outlandish plans…………….

    • Messalina says:

      They never stop, do they! This never-ending persecution of people who enjoy smoking tobacco. Those people at Tobacco Control really do live in a fantasy world. All the evils of the world blamed on the humble tobacco plant.
      Perhaps they should all go and form their own country, and live on their own little island where there will be no smoking, no alcohol, no salt, sugar, pastries, fizzy drinks, chocolate, or anything else which they deem to be bad for you. Then I hope they live forever and happily ever after in their dull grey world.

      • smokervoter says:

        I really shouldn’t read articles like that one, they tend to put me in a temporary homicidal rage. On the upside I get a nice quick cardio workout from a great, ferocious shadow boxing session.

        Did you notice that Ms Rutter said “We really can push further. We can make smoking history, and I do truly believe that it’s the right thing to do.”

        And we can push back further and twice as hard, Ms Nutter. We can make you and your bile-ridden, healthist ilk history.

        And the UK could be a “No Busybody Nation” by 2032 just the same.

        That gray ‘perfection island’ where these pencil-necked geeks are banished to by 2032, might well be New Zealand.

        • Messalina says:

          It’s a shame about New Zealand – it looks like such a beautiful country, from what I saw in ‘Lord of the Rings’. It’s such a shame it’s now such an unfriendly place. Same with Australia, it used to be such a cool laid-back place. Is there anywhere in the world that is safe anymore from the smokerphobics?

    • churchmouse says:

      Thanks. I read the first page of comments, which seemed mostly negative (as in ‘leave people alone’) — a good sign.

  8. harleyrider1978 says:

    Now I just happen to know that the only thing know to cause cell mutation is radiation:

    Lets look at that for just a second:

    The U.S. national annual background dose for humans is approximately 360 mrem. A mrem, or millirem, is a standard measure of radiation dose. Examples of radiation doses from common medical procedures are:

    Chest x-ray (14 x 17 inch area) – 15 mrem

    Dental x-ray (3 inch diameter area) – 300 mrem

    Spinal x-ray (14 x 17 inch area) – 300 mrem

    Thyroid uptake study – 28,000 mrem to the thyroid

    Thyroid oblation – 18,000,000 mrem to the thyroid

    Average Annual Total
    361 mrem/year

    Tobacco (If You Smoke, Add ~ 280 mrem)

    Not quite 1 dental xray for a whole years smoking ehh!


    Thyroid oblation – 18,000,000 mrem to the thyroid /shrinking the thyroid

    Tobacco (If You Smoke, Add ~ 280 mrem)

    18,000,000 / 280 = roughly 64,000 years of equivalent years of smoking!

    Click to access 320-063_bkvsman_fs.pdf

    • Margo says:

      Cheers, Harleyrider, that’s exactly what I keep going on about. We’ve got radiation from this incessant bombing (there are plenty of reports online about the damage done to soldiers and the civilians they’ve dropped the dirty bombs on, genetic mutations that follow, etc), we’ve got the nuclear power stations with their leakage, accidents and waste, and we’ve got medical radiation. Note the secrecy and the media block-outs on all this (not a word coming about Fukushima – still leaking radioactive stuff 24/7, still unfixable, still could destroy northern Japan – not a word). I think that’s the main culprit. Tobacco is the scapegoat. They can get away with it because it can take a decade or so for a cancer to develop. It causes other illnesses too (heart disease and a host of others). And it’s getting worse all the time.
      Thank goodness I’ll be dead by 2032. Though half of me wants to live forever, because whatever I die of, and whenever, they’ll say it’s because I smoked.

    • Margo says:

      I’ve just found mutations from radiation

      There’s a paragraph: ‘In order to achieve its objectives, the IAEA cannot admit that these seious and common illnesses were caused by ionising radiation because, once known, it would prevent the development of the nuclear industry throughout the world.’
      That’s what it’s all about.

      • Rose says:

        Smoking Helps Protect Against Lung Cancer
        And here are some of the mice who helped to prove it!

        Click on the link to see the dancing mice.

        “Then one day as if by magic, a few thousand mice from the smoking experiment accidentally found their way into the radioactive particle experiment, which in the past had killed every single one of its unfortunate test subjects.

        But this time, completely against the odds, sixty percent of the smoking mice survived exposure to the radioactive particles. The only variable was their prior exposure to copious quantities of tobacco smoke.

        Government pressure was immediately brought to bear and the facts suppressed, but this did not completely silence the real scientists. Tongue in cheek perhaps, Professor Schrauzer, President of the International Association of Bio-inorganic Chemists, testified before a U.S. congressional committee in 1982 that it had long been well known to scientists that certain constituents of tobacco smoke act as anti-carcinogens [anti-cancer agents] in test animals.

        He continued that when known carcinogens [cancer causing substances] are applied to the animals, the application of constituents of cigarette smoke counter them.

        Nor did Professor Schrauzer stop there. He further testified on oath to the committee that no ingredient of cigarette smoke has been shown to cause human lung cancer, adding that no-one has been able to produce lung cancer in laboratory animals from smoking. It was a neat answer to a rather perplexing problem. If government blocks publication of your scientific paper, take the alternate route and put the essential facts on the written congressional record!

        Predictably, this hard truth drove the government and quasi medical researchers into a frenzy of rage. By 1982 they had actually started to believe their own ridiculous propaganda, and were not to be silenced by eminent members of the scientific establishment.

        Quite suddenly they switched the blame to other secret ingredients put into cigarettes by the tobacco companies. Yes, that must be it! they clamored eagerly, until a handful of scientists got on the phone and pointed out that these same secret ingredients had been included in the mice experiments, and had therefore also been proved incapable of causing lung cancer.”

        • Margo says:

          Ace, Rose!

        • Messalina says:

          Excellent! Thanks for the link to that article, Rose.

        • Rose says:

          I couldn’t find this last time I looked.

          16 Mar 1982
          Professor Schrauzer
          extracts – assuming this is the right one

          “I am Professor of Chemistry at the University of California, San Diego. I hold a Ph.D. degree in chemistry from the University of Munich and a m the president and founder of th e International Association of Bioinorganic Scientists.

          I am a member of several scientific societies, including the American Chemical Society, the Association of Clinical Scientists, and the American Public Health Association. I am the author of approximately 200 research publications and have edited 2 books.

          My main research interests are in cancer-prevention, cancer epidemiology, trace minerals in human and animal nutrition, and various fields of experimental chemistry. I have done pioneering work on the prevention of cancer by the essential trace mineral selenium and in 1978 received a special award from the Santa C1ara Section of the American Cancer Society. As a chemist, cancer researcher and American Citizen I wish to comment upon the “Comprehensive Smoking Prevention Act”

          “In this Act, it is stated, among other things, that “smoking is the number one cause of lung cancer in the United States”. In my opinion, what role, if any, smoking plays in the causation of cancer, including lung cancer, has still to be determined.

          Those who claim smoking causes cancer rely upon the reported statistical association and ignore the inconsistencies of the smoking causation theory in the scientific literature.’ For example, to date, no one has ever been able to produce lung cancer in 1aboratory animals through exposure to fresh, whole cigarette smoke.

          Moreover, the vast majority of smokers never develop lung cancer and there are serious inconsistencies in the epidemiological evidence and dose-response relationships. For example, a Japanese male smoking 50 cigarettes per day has a lower risk of dying from lung cancer than a British smoking doctor smoking only 1-14 cigarettes per day. In addition, no ingredient or combination of ingredients, as found in tobacco smoke, has been shown to cause human lung cancer.”

          “Since it is probable that the many hundreds of compounds present in smoke interact with each other, it is highly artificial to focus upon the effects of any one ingredient or combination of ingredients in isolation from the others. It has long been known that certain smoke constituents act as anti-carcinogens in test animals.

          For example, tobacco belongs to the selenium accumulating group of plants and selenium has been shown to possess anti-carcinogenic properties.

          Also, constituents of cigarette smoke previously thought to be lacking altogether in carcinogenic activity have recently been found to be anti-carcinogenic when applied with true carcinogens in test animals.”

          This might or might not be the experiment.

          Combined action of cigarette tar and beta radiation on mice
          March/April 1961


  9. Pingback: Cancer 3 | Frank Davis

  10. Pingback: A Polyhedral Cell Model | Frank Davis

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