I guess I’m still not sure exacty what the difference of opinion between macgyver and George is here. I suspect it’s semantics more than anything else. Let’s see if we can break down “We all have cancer all the time” into narrower statements and see if we can find the difference of opinion. If George and macgyver will each respond with agreement, disagreement, or clarification to the following statemets, maybe that will help.
1. A “cancer cell” is a cell with sufficient mutations in relevant genes to undergo uncontrolled division. (Technically, these are called “neoplastic cells,” and can refer to the cells of both benign neoplasms, which show uncontrolled local growth but not tissue invasion or metastsis, and malignant neoplasms, which show both uncontrolled growth and invasion/metastasis. The term “cancer cell” is limited to malignant neoplastic cells per NCI Dictionary of Cancer Terms- “Neoplasia-Abnormal and uncontrolled cell growth.
neoplasm-An abnormal mass of tissue that results when cells divide more than they should or do not die when they should. Neoplasms may be benign (not cancer), or malignant (cancer). Also called tumor.”)
2. “Cancer” is the disease caused by the activity of “cancer cells.”
(This is based on the NCI Dictionary of Cancer terms, which defines “Cancer” as “A term for diseases in which abnormal cells divide without control and can invade nearby tissues. Cancer cells can also spread to other parts of the body through the blood and lymph systems.”)
3. At any given time, there is a high liklihood that any individual will have neoplastic cells in their body capable of forming either benign or malignant tumors and, if malignant, can potentially lead to the disease state called “cancer.”
4. Most of the time, individuals who have neoplastic cells in their body do not develop tumors or cancer because natural defense mechanisms destroy neopastic cells before they are able to replicate sufficiently to form tumors or invade tissue/metastasize.
5. Changes in immune function, due to drugs, supplements, environmental exposures, disease states, age, and other factors can lead to the proliferation of neoplastic cells into tumors or cancer which would not have occured without these changes in immune function even though these cells were present in the body.
If we follow these definitions fairly strictly, it probably isn’t accurate that “We all have cancer all the time” but rather “We all have neoplastic cells with the potential to develop into tumors or cancer all the time.” However, the basic point is atill correct that cancer often develops not simply from the appearance of neoplastic cells but from the malfunction of the immune mechanisms which normally kill neoplastic cells before they can form cancers. Thus, the basic point that taking supplements which can interfere with these immune mechanisms (such as antioxidants) can theoretically raise the risk of cancer (and this has proven to be clinically true in some cases; e.g. Vit E and lung cancer in smokers, Vit E and prostate cancer).