The keys to cancer and its new treatments: to know in order to cure
Egoists, Immortals and Travelers explores the past, the present reality and the future of a disease that, strictly speaking, is not a single entity but more than two hundred different ones, as many as the cell types that make up the different organs and tissues of our body.
The work first discusses the origin of cancer, a question that until quite recently had no concrete answer but which today can be summed up as nothing other than a disease of genes within the realm of genes. Our unfortunate distinction as victims of malignant tumors derives in large part from our absurd perseverance in creating forms of biological interference that have multiplied our natural risk of cancer. Voluntary exposure to carcinogenic agents, inadequate nutrition or increasing environmental pollution interfere with a natural molecular harmony that took more than three and a half billion years to develop and create beings as complex as humans.
The book then discusses how molecular biology, that young discipline that emerged in 1953 after the discovery of the double helix structure of DNA, intuited that it could provide new ideas to face a very old disease, thus initiating a stage of continuous advances related to the causes and mechanisms of cancer that has crystallized in recent years in new cancer therapies. It also exposes the achievements and current frontiers of immunotherapy, the great promise in the current treatment of cancer.
Knowing in order to cure is the book’s fundamental premise, but this knowledge is also important to promote prevention, so Egoists, Immortals and Travelers includes a section on cancer prevention, explaining how food influences the risk of developing a malignant tumor and then comments on how proper nutrition can contribute to improving the clinical evolution of tumors as well as responses to treatments. Finally, other strategies to prevent cancer are discussed, including the importance of reorienting our lives away from any source of toxicity, including human toxicity, to improve emotional well-being and build preventive barriers against malignant transformation.
Finally, Carlos López Otín addresses the question of the future of cancer. Assuming that the constant advances of new therapies make it more likely to survive cancer than to succumb to it, he will try to show readers that perhaps the question we should answer is not whether cancer has a future but what the cancer of the future will be like and how we will face it.