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Author Topic: The development of cancerous cells and listings of common carcinogens  (Read 2626 times)
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Francis Umeoguaju
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« on: August 11, 2010, 09:27:59 am »


Introduction
Cancer is one of the major killer diseases in our world today.  There are over 100 types of cancer such as lung cancer, breast cancer, stomach cancer, liver cancer, prostrate cancer etc.  Cancer are named after the cells from which they originated from.

What are cancerous cells?

•   Cancer cells are actually cells that no longer obey the normal cellular controlling mechanisms in the body. They are cells that grows out of control.
•   Using the analogy of human society, the cellular society is made of cells. The activities and functions of these cells are guided strictly by rules. Special proteins in each cells functions to enforce the laws guiding cellular activities.
•   Cancer cells are the non law abiding citizens (criminals) of the cellular society. They are actually "above the laws" guiding the activities of the other cells in the body.
•   Since the activities of the cancerous cells are not being regulated by the cell's regulatory mechanism, they infringe into the rights, boundaries and functions  of other cellular members making them unable to perform their normal function thus leading to the characteristics disease symptoms of cancers.

Characteristics of cancer cells
Cancerous cells possess three major characteristics that differentiate them from normal cells.
1.   They are characterized by their invasive growth pattern. They grow and invade into other cell and tissue's boundaries. Usually normal cells don’t grow out of their boundary, but cancer cells grow out of their boundary and suffocate or kill off cells that stand in their way.
2.   Cancer cells are characterized by their rapid and uncontrolled growth. Since they are no more subject to the normal mechanisms in the body that regulate the limit of cell growth, they tend to "live forever". This rapid and continuous growth leads to the formation of the observable tumor that characterizes cancer diseases.
3.   Cancer cells are able to spread rapidly to other distance organs in the body through the blood. The ability of cells to move about is restricted to only very few cells whose function demand that they move to their site of action. Unlike normal cell, cancer cells possess the ability to move around and colonize organs and tissues quite different from its kind of cell.
 
Why cells become cancerous.
Cells don’t just wake up one day and decide to become rebellious; they are triggered by certain events. The two major events that triggers the development of cancer cells are
1.   Defects, malfunction or the inactivation of the regulatory mechanisms( tumor suppressor genes ) in the cell (i.e  when the cellular policing structures in the cell are incapacitated or destroyed)
2.   Activation of cancer causing genes (oncogenes) in cancer cells. This genes which are inherent and disabled in normal cells on activation, gives the cancer cells new abilities.
These two events occur as a result of mutating effect of carcinogens on the DNA that produces the tumor suppressors and oncogenes.
 
Mutations in DNA molecule is the major cause of cancer. Mutation is a condition that occurs when the DNA of cells are attacked by agents capable of altering the coded instructions on the DNA.   Mutations in DNA molecule occurs regularly but these mutations are effectively suppressed and corrected by tumor suppressor agents in the cells.
 
When the cell cannot effectively correct or suppress the mutations of some key regulatory and tumor suppressor genes, it would leads either to the production of ineffective regulator or even the activation of cancer causing genes. The cell would then begin to exhibit the various characteristics feature of cancer cells
 
Agents that leads to the development of cancer cells
The agents that leads to the development of cancer are referred to as carcinogens. There is a long list of agents that has been shown to be carcinogenic. Listed below are some common carcinogens.
•   Cigarette smoke (major cause of lung cancer) both passive and active smokers are at risk.  Tobacco smoke contains over 50 known carcinogens
•   Viral diseases like hepatitis B, leads to liver cancer. The virus activates cancer causing genes in host cells thus making them cancerous. HIV inactivates the defense system in cells increasing their risk of being cancerous
•   Asbestos causes cancer of the lining of internal organs like kidney, liver, etc
•   Benzene: A constituents of some plastics, tyres.
•   PVC : A constituents of some bottles and plastics
•   Chronic  intake of alcohol has been shown to cause alcohol indirectly through various mechanism
•   Radiations like X-ray, UV, and ionizing radiations from nuclear materials.
•   Benzopyrenes and other carcinogenic heterocyclic amines present in meat or fish roasted at high temperature( temperature above 155) like "suya"
 

Recommendations to preventing cancer.

•   Avoid exposure to smokes of burning synthetic or fossil materials.  Like plastic, tyres
•   Quit smoking and avoid exposure to tobacco smoke
•   Maintain a good personal hygiene to keep out infections
•   Eat more of natural food and reduce intake of processed food.
•   Reduce exposure to radiations
 
Summary!
•   Cancers cells are rebellious body cells that are out of the control of the mechanisms that regulates cellular functions.
•   Cancer cells are characterized by their invasive growth pattern, rapid and uncontrolled growth and their ability to spread to other tissues of the body
•   Cells become cancerous when regulating mechanisms or tumor suppressor agents in the body are transformed and incapacitated by cancer forming agents in the body.
•   Common agents that leads to the transformation of regulating mechanisms and tumor suppressor agents in the body includes tobacco smoke, viral infections, radiations like x-ray, UV or gamma rays and other ionizing radiations, benzene, asbestos, alcohol etc
•   Good healthy life style and eating habit can help prevent cancer.
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