Posted: Jun 03, 2012 9:35 pm
by Calilasseia
With respect to the matter of chemotherapy being "toxic", well of course it's fucking toxic. Because its job is to kill cells. The problem being that cancer cells are harder to target than, say, bacteria, because, wait for it, cancer cells started life as normal cells in our bodies. Which means that finding ways of differentiating them from the surrounding normal cells requires considerable ingenuity on the part of researchers.

in short, if you don't want a cancer to kill you, you have to kill the cancer. Leave aside for one moment the fact that chemotherapy is merely one approach to this,. and let's concentrate upon chemotherapy. The compounds in question have to kill the cancer cells, which means that they have to be toxic to do the job. The trick, as Spearthrower noted above, is to devise compounds that kill the cancer cells before they have a chance to kill you. Of course, the other, healthy cells in your body aren't going to like the presence of those compounds one little bit either, because, as I've noted above, those compounds have to kill cells that were derived from some of those healthy cells in the past, and which share a large part of the same biochemistry. Killing bacteria without killing your cells is elementary by comparison, because bacteria have sufficient differences in biochemistry to allow them to be targeted without adversely affecting your body cells - human body cells aren't poisoned by betalactam antibiotics, for example, because they don't have a cell wall synthesis process of the sort that bacteria possess, which those betalactam antibiotics attack. Finding chemical means of attacking cancer cells, whilst leaving healthy body cells relatively untouched, requires far greater ingenuity, because in many instances, the biochemical processes separating cancer cells from healthy cells aren't critical to the survival of the cancer cells. Finding biochemical processes in cancer cells that are critical to the survival thereof, yet which differentiate them from healthy cells, and allow selective targeting of those cancer cells, is an active area of research, one that, for example, GenesForLife here on this board is engaged in, which is why there's a hell of a lot of research now being devoted to genetic analysis of cancer cells, precisely for the purpose of finding such processes and taking advantage of them from a therapeutic standpoint. Once armed with these basic facts, you don't need to be an Einstein-level genius to work out that our current chemotherapy approaches are something of a blunt instrument, because they were devised before much of this new knowledge came on stream. To suggest that we abandon all research in this field, just because the problem is a hard one, and moreover traduce the reputations of those who contributed in good faith to the relevant research, is not only absurd, but dishonest, but then honesty has never been a conspicuous characteristic of woo pedlars seeking to sell snake oil to the gullible and the desperate.

Instead of peddling the usual sad little conspiracy theories and fabricated "statistics" from agenda-ridden sources, the way forward is to support research that will result in better medicines in the future, and you won't get those from mysticism-riddled moon pies or sleazy con men bereft of a proper science education.