Cancer & HIF-1

“Radiation and chemotherapy do kill most solid tumor cells, but in the cells that survive, the therapies drive an increase in HIF-1, which cells use to get the oxygen they need by increasing blood vessel growth into the tumor. Solid tumors generally have low supplies of oxygen and HIF-1 helps them get the oxygen they need,” explains Dr. Mark W. Dewhirst, professor of radiation oncology at Duke University Medical Center.

Dr. Holger K. Eltzschig, a professor of anesthesiology, medicine, cell biology and immunology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, says, “Understanding how hypoxia is linked to inflammation may help save lives. By focusing on the molecular pathways the body uses to battle hypoxia, we may be able help patients who undergo organ transplants, who suffer from infections or who have cancer.”

Researchers found that an increase of 1.2 metabolic units

(oxygen consumption) was related to a decreased risk of

cancer death, especially in lung and gastrointestinal cancers.[1]

In order for cancer to “establish” a foothold in the body it has to be deprived of oxygen and become acidic. If these two conditions can be reversed cancer not only can be slowed down, but it also can actually be overturned.

Drs. D. F. Treacher and R. M. Leach write, “Prevention, early identification, and correction of tissue hypoxia are essential skills. If oxygen supply fails, even for a few minutes, tissue hypoxaemia may develop resulting in anaerobic metabolism and production of lactate.”[2]

Inflammation interferes with oxygen transfer to cells, and since low oxygen conditions are a basic cause of cancer we need to study how inflammation causes cancer. “It is believed that cancer is caused by an accumulation of mutations in cells of the body,” says Dr. Carlo M. Croce, professor and chair of molecular virology, immunology and medical genetics. “Our study suggests that miR-155, which is associated with inflammation, increases the mutation rate and might be a key player in inflammation-induced cancers generally.” This and many other studies show how inflammation can cause cancer. Chronic inflammation due to infection or to conditions such as chronic inflammatory bowel disease is associated with up to 25% or more of all cancers.

Professor Manfred von Ardenne wrote, “Because more than 80% of all cancer deaths are caused by metastases, development and evaluation of methods for fighting tumor dissemination should be major tasks of present cancer research. Formation of metastases is favoured by both reduced numbers of immune cells in the bloodstream and impaired oxygen transport into tissues.”


[2] BMJ. 1998 November 7; 317(7168): 1302–1306