Why do cancer cells behave like bad neighbors?

Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine
To better understand cancer, think about your neighborhood. You have all kinds of neighbors-friendly ones, quiet ones, benevolent ones who shovel the snow on your sidewalk before you even wake up, eccentric ones who mow their lawns wearing black socks and sneakers. Most of your neighbors fit into this category: They're socially responsible. That is, they respect your property, they fit in with everybody else, they're easy to get along with, and darn it, when push comes to shove, their olive oil is your olive oil.

It's the same with the normal cells in your body-they're very socially responsible. They get along with cells all around them, they live their own lives, and they even help each other out if they need to. Most importantly, they mind their own business and do their jobs without interfering with the well-being of neighboring cells. Liver cells let the spleen cells work, and abdominal muscle cells (even ones looking like tire treads) wouldn't dream of thinking they could do the work of your heart cells.

Now think of your bad neighbors-the neighbors who have no regard for anyone around them. They turf lawns, play loud music, let their Labrador drop digested Alpo bombs on other people's grass. They show total disrespect for everyone around them.

Cancer cells are bad neighbors. They're not socially responsible; they're sociopathic. In essence, what they do is grow and divide and make life hell for the cells around them-just like that gang of thugs. They don't pay attention to the needs of other cells, they crush other cells, and then, in some circumstances, they can spread through the body and trash the whole neighborhood.
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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.