SIDEBAR: 'It's Darwinian'

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Depriving breast cancer cells of estrogen, whether by oophorectomy or treatment with tamoxifen or aromatase inhibitors, will induce “a crisis point, and about 80% of the cells will die off,” V. Craig Jordan, OBE, PhD, DSc, reported. After a while, “by chance, some of the cells that have the right configuration of molecular biology and biochemistry will learn to grow towards the little signal” that the small amount of remaining estrogen provides.

“Cancer cells are very clever,” he said. “All of these cells can die out, but the ones that grow towards the food are the survivors. It’s Darwinian. It’s survival of the fittest, and the one that can survive on the little bit of estrogen is the one that starts to grow. So it grows up and it has the fidelity to keep reproducing the ones that survive. Now you’ve got cells that have a completely different survival mechanism to grow, an absolutely different set of pathways. They reconfigure themselves by an outgrowth of the cells that can survive with virtually no estrogen. Then the estrogen comes back and, in effect, says, ‘You’ve got the wrong pathways. You’re out of here.’” ■

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