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Heat May Be Used To Help Cure Cancer – High Temperatures May Help Radiation and Chemotherapy Kill Tumors – Lance Armstrong Effect

July 26th 2006

Heat May Be Used To Help Cure Cancer – High Temperatures May Help Radiation and Chemotherapy Kill Tumors – Lance Armstrong Effect


Scientists at Johns Hopkins believe that body heat is the reason why people with testicular cancer have a survival rate far better than patients with other advanced cancers.  Cancers that form in the testicles may do so because they are heat sensitive.  Seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong survived the cancer even after it spread to his lungs and brain.

When the cancer cells spreads to the rest of the body, they may be prone to the increased temperature, making them easier to treat.  The Hopkins researchers say that the temperature boost may have weakened a protein scaffolding within the cancer cell’s nucleus, making the nuclear DNA more vulnerable to chemotherapy and radiation.


The testes are separated from the body making them a few degrees cooler.  This benefits the production of sperm, according to researchers.  This is why men with undescended testicles (at birth the testes remain stuck in the pelvis) have a higher risk of infertility.

“The warmer region of the pelvis made the nuclear matrix in the cells that make sperm unstable and prone to death,” says Theodore DeWeese, M.D., professor and director of the Department of Radiation Oncology and Molecular Radiation Sciences.

“Heat is at the center of many cellular changes,” according to Donald Coffey, Ph.D., who is the Catherine Iola & J. Smith Michael Distinguished Professor of Urology, Oncology, Pathology, and Pharmacology and Molecular Sciences at Johns Hopkins. “It drives everything from reproduction to fighting infection, and now we’d like to harness its power to fight cancer.”


Scientists in the past have observed that fevers accompanying infections sometimes improved the outcome for some cancer patients, but until now, Coffey said, “scientists haven’t connected precisely how heat affects the scaffolding and might be one of the reasons treatment can cure tumors such as Lance Armstrong’s.”

This could lead to treatments for other cancers as well, the researchers speculate.  Robert Getzenberg Ph.D. says “If we understand how heat may naturally help kill testicular cancer cells, then perhaps we can make it happen in other solid tumors. More than 80 percent of men with widespread testicular cancer can achieve a cure. In other cancers, the cure rate is far less.”  Getzenberg is professor and director of urology research at Johns Hopkins.

DeWeese added “Cancer cells already have unstable nuclear matrices. If we give a cancer cell more heat to completely disrupt its matrix, and then add toxic drugs and radiation, the cancer cell may be so disabled that it won’t be able to replicate and will die.”

On a parallel track, the Hopkins group is looking at other temperature targets for heat’s cancer-fighting properties that may work in tandem with the nuclear matrix. For example, they are looking at blocking proteins whose primary role is to act as fire blankets to coat the nuclear matrix and preserve it from heat damage. These so-called “heat shock proteins” also have a second role as “chaperones” to other proteins, ensuring their proper interaction and shape, and, depending on these interactions, may play a role in cancer-cell death.

Not all doctors agree with this though.  Lance Armstrong’s doctor even disputes the theory.  Other skeptics include American Cancer Society's Dr. Michael Thun, who called the idea "total speculation."  But many agree, more research should be done in this area.  Their commentary appears in the July 26 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

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Important:  The material on Best Syndication is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for any medical conditions. You should promptly seek professional medical care if you have any concern about your health, and you should always consult your physician before starting a fitness program.

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Copyright 2005 Best Syndication                   Last Updated Saturday, July 10, 2010 09:46 PM