Many of you know that chronic inflammation can cause heart attacks, but now we are learning that chronic inflammation is making cancer worse. Mitochondria are the cell particles that provide energy to our cells. New research shows that when inflammation is chronic, mitochondria produce toxic substances. As a result, when they are busy trying to extinguish inflammation, they can start producing toxic substances, which make cancer worse.
Chronic inflammation is associated with the aging process. Several illnesses relate to the same chronic inflammation. Arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, periodontitis, septic shock and some cancers belong into the chronic inflammation category.
In 30% of cancers there are mitochondria present that are programmed to maintain chronic inflammation.
How chronic inflammation is making cancer worse
Research was done at the Trinity College Dublin’s Inflammation Research Group; the United Kingdom’s Medical Research Council Mitochondrial Biology Unit joined them. Furthermore, 7 other institutions also gave input to this new insight. The question is how chronic inflammation is making cancer worse by stimulating macrophages a certain way. The paper was published Oct. 6, 2016.
Macrophages are white blood cells that constantly monitor the body for inflammation. They have the capability to turn inflammation on and off. This research paper describes the biochemistry inside the cell and how this occurs. As a result of the activation of macrophages there is a switch from synthesizing ATP in their mitochondria for energy production. Instead the mitochondria produce reactive oxygen species (ROS). Consequently ROS leads to premature aging and to cancer. It also causes an activation of chronic inflammation.
What it means: chronic inflammation is making cancer worse?
Before we get lost in complex research lingo, I like to describe in simple language what the researchers have found. They found that inflammation is not harmless, particularly when it is chronic. Chronic inflammation releases inflammatory substances (ROS) in macrophages. Macrophages are the special white blood cells that can activate cancer cells to worsen the cancer growth and also cause tumor spread (metastases). This is a profound discovery, which will change how physicians will approach cancer and all of the inflammatory diseases.
We have known for some time that chronic inflammation is unhealthy. It is associated with arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, periodontitis, septic shock and some cancers. But now the metabolic switch inside the macrophages has been identified that causes aging, causes inflammation to get chronic and allows cancer growth to be stimulated. It is hoped that this will lead to new ways of fighting cancer and to treat the other inflammatory diseases.