The role of immunity in cancer

The development of a number of cancers appears to be related to a depression of the individual's immune system, particularly in relation to cellular immunity, in a similar way (albeit on a different scale) to the effect of HIV infection. Studies have shown that the immune system is adversely influenced by:

• stress, especially bereavement

• depression

• pollutants

• cigarette smoke

• inappropriate diet

On the other hand, a protective effect on the immune system is provided by:

• food antioxidants (Table 9.4) tranquillity meditation

Food antioxidants (Table 9.4) appear to protect against free radicals that can suppress immunity. Free radicals, which are usually a toxic form of oxygen containing an odd number of electrons, are produced by a variety of toxins as mentioned above. 10 H 12 Apart from the possible toxicity to immunity from free radicals, they may also damage body tissues such as the liver in alcoholics as well as increasing susceptibility to degenerative diseases. 13

Table 9.4 Food antioxidants

Vitamin A, esp. beta-carotene Vitamin C Vitamin E

Ubidecarenone (coenzyme Q10)


Zinc (nutrient co-factor) Manganese (nutrient co-factor) Copper (nutrient co-factor)

Source: After Sali 10

In some instances malignancies appear to undergo unpredictable remissions with patients following an optimal diet, taking antioxidants, changing their lifestyle and practising meditation. However, Bury in a review of the literature of antioxidant nutrients concludes that 'high intake of antioxidant nutrients from food sources appears to offer some health advantage but claims for any therapeutic benefit of antioxidant supplements are premature and scientificially unjustified at present'. 14 Diet certainly appears to be a most important factor in the primary prevention of disease. If immune deficient diseases can respond in such a way, imagine what a powerful primary preventive force such a lifestyle represents for all disease.

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