Carcinogenesis

High Treason—The Formation of Lung Cancers

He takes a drag off of his cigarette, it feels incredible. He loves the taste, the smell; the texture of the tobacco rolled together—the rush of nicotine to his central nervous system. The brain relays the same message around the body, the feeling of eternal awareness, concentration and relaxation. It is better then sex, some say; the high from smoking tobacco—especially after a twelve hour plane flight to seemingly no-where. What is there not to miss? His brain is in love with the addicting nicotine; essentially a true love, as far as his brain is concerned. The oral fixation, the rich smooth taste, the increased feeling to live life to the fullest—what could possibly go wrong?

“I have been smoking for nineteen years,” he said. This gentleman is a good man, a father of two, and a man who has been faithfully married for fourteen years. He has a mortgage to pay, a car loan—the usual bills for a person his age in the United States. Secretly inside of him, a rebellion has finally started after the past nineteen years of assault to his respiratory system. The lung cells which have come and gone, have been outraged at the fact that they are deprived of their essential lifeline—oxygen, for so long, so often. It makes sense though; wouldn’t a life form lacking its absolute necessity eventually rebel against the body in which governs the life form? One of these cells did indeed rebel; the cell had had enough. Think about it though, why would this lone cell rebel? Whilst the others did not? Beware, the cell did spread the word of it’s’ mutiny so soon after. Other lung cells listened carefully, and soon followed. But alas, enough story telling let us answer the questions in full. No science jargon knowledge is required during this reading, so get comfortable; who ever may read this might learn something.

Lung Cancers' Processes

Many processes must occur before lung cancers are constructed out of a seemingly loyal cell. Structurally it is called either a benign (usually non-life threatening) or a malignant (always life threatening) tumor or growth. A cell must receive an extensive amount of genetic damage from carcinogens to transform a seemingly innocent cell into an expansive, devastating, seemingly rebel without a cause. Carcinogens (chemical compounds that stimulate cancer) will transfer their genetic data to the cell, thus compromising the host’s stability. This genetic tampering will destroy parts of the blue prints in which the DNA of the cell holds dearly. One area of the DNA that must be damaged extensively to create a cancer cell is the area which governs Programmed Cell Death (PCD). A cell is programmed to be replaced at a certain point in its life, to sacrifice itself for the greater good of the body. The human body cell is commanded to perform this form of suicide around seven years after its birth. When carcinogens eventually convince the lung cell (or any organ cell for that matter) to turn against its creator (the human); it is granted seemingly unlimited life—free from the PCD in which the body has demanded of the cell, after its years of slave-driving labor. Why though is the cell demanded to commit an honorable form of suicide? The answer is relatively simple and logical—older cells have reduced efficiency respective to the cell’s job; veteran soldiers eventually need to be replaced with fresh recruits eventually (but in no way am I saying that a soldier should be executed after his or her ‘usefulness’ is extracted!). The body draws a line arbitrarily, as to preserve the efficiency of the body. The objective is to keep the organism alive, not necessarily the cell. It may sound like a conundrum, but the common sense behind is—cells are expendable, the organism is not. “For the Greater Good!” is rallying cry of the body’s cells. Sacrifice is asked of cells when & if the time calls for it, and they will do so without question. Alas though, carcinogens are sly and cunning enough to deceive some cells, to commit a form of treason, which will bring the death of the organism if the cancer is not destroyed in its infancy.

I digress, enough of the appeal to emotion. Abstract appeals to emotions are powerful, but the details that guide them must be disclosed to who ever reads these words. Everyone deserves the right to know what is going on in your body at a cellular level, particularly when the body’s internal security has been compromised. There are ways to prevent lung cancers of course, but more importantly there are ways to provoke lung cancers.

Lung cancers have the instinct to invade other cells around them if they are indeed malignant. Worse off, they have the ability to use the national highways of the body (the body vessels) to travel to far off regions of the body—creating cancers sporadically and reducing the chances of survival to nearly nothing. As we have established, cancer cells do not respond to PCD, in turn, the cell division of these cancer cells is uncontrollable, and these daughter cells do not respond to PCD either.

These carcinogens do not simply destroy the DNA in which they seek; they replace the DNA with their own, causing mutations. These mutations are what create the cancer for which it is, mutating the cell of the parent organism into a life form of an unknown invader. Does the body have a natural defense mechanism? No. Or at least not yet, perhaps in many (and I emphasize many) generations the body may, through evolution create a natural defense towards this extremely complicated invader from within. But Evolution will be saved for another time, while very relevant to this topic; the discussion of which bears little importance in this particular context.

Important Statistics

How many people die of lung cancers in the world every three hundred and sixty five days? Oh not many, around 1.3 million people according to the World Health Organization. As Joseph Stalin said “The death of a single man is a tragedy, the death of a million is a statistic.” A sad quote but a true one at that, we often become desensitized to large, intimidating numbers like the one mentioned casually above. This subject ranges into the topic of psychology, but nonetheless it is relevant to this topic.

“Lung cancer is the leading cancer killer of women in the U.S… Lung cancer kills 30,000 more women than breast cancer annually in the U.S.,” says the National Lung Cancer Partnership, but what does this mean? At the chance of sounding embarrassingly obvious; this means that more women (and men of course) are lending themselves to the aid of carcinogens by volunteering as the host. This is not without its exceptions of course; some cases are merely the case of terrible luck—asbestos, second hand smoke, et cetera. Direct tobacco inhalation is by far the leading contributor to lung cancer cases. Approximately 87% of lung cancer deaths are a direct result of tobacco consumption. “…tobacco contains over 19 known cancer-causing chemicals (most are collectively known as "tar") and more than 4,000 other chemicals. These include acetone, ammonia, carbon monoxide, cyanide, methane, propane, and butane.” According to Dr. Koop of Dr.Koop dot com*, the argument is not whether tobacco inhalation causes cancer, it is whether or not tobacco consumption is influential enough, speaking in terms of cancer production & growth of course—clearly it does.

Conclusion & Review

What are the main factors in the formation of lung cancers? It includes certain processes triggered by the carcinogen over time and the cooperation of the host to work with the carcinogen. What are the processes? The insertion of Carcinogenetic DNA into the host cells; the removal of the gene which conducts Programmed Cell Death, causing an uncontrollable division of cells (which are also cancerous) of which all of these evade PCD. The use of the blood vessels to transfer cancer cells to distant parts of the body is a dooming factor when the malignant cancer is in its later stages. It is a shame that the body has not evolved to cope with carcinogens yet, but is this really the solution we should depend on? Should we wait until evolution solves the problem? Probably not, the answer lies in the ability to resist our intake of carcinogens (mainly cigarettes and other tobacco products), and to limit our exposure to asbestos and other cancer causing material. If we (the hosts) refuse to cooperate with these unwanted guests, the process of carcinogenesis will cease. Nonetheless, I would hope all this information (in regards to avoiding tobacco intake) is common sense. I hope this brief analysis of what creates a cancer entices us to think critically when and if we smoke our next cigarette.

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Comments 2 comments

Cris A profile image

Cris A 7 years ago from Manila, Philippines

Mike

I'm a smoker and shouldn't have read this. But I value my life too so I did. Thanks for sounding the alarm...now I'm off to ponder.


Direxmd profile image

Direxmd 7 years ago from Sonoma County, California Author

you made me smile Cris :)

thank you

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