Clearlight would like to remind users that this should not be taken as direct medical advice, and you should always consult a licensed health practitioner before making any significant changes to your lifestyle or existing pain treatment regimen.
Scientists have taken a giant leap in the fight against cancer with an amazing world-first breakthrough! A form of photoimmunotherapy uses near-infrared light (NIR) to target and attack cancer cells, giving hope to those suffering from this disease.
This could be huge news for patients as it introduces another safe and effective way to battle their illness that won't unduly stress out their immune system - potentially making it the fifth major type of treatment available.
So what is photoimmunotherapy, how does it treat cancer, and what does it have to do with infrared saunas? The answer to these questions is all centred around NIR, and in this article we're going to unpack the science and clarify some common misconceptions around the topic.
How is Infrared Sauna Related to Cancer?
When it comes to the relationship between infrared saunas and cancer, there are usually two trains of thought. Can infrared saunas treat cancer, and, can infrared saunas cause skin cancer? The answer to both of these questions are the same. No. Infrared saunas can neither treat nor cause cancer. So where did these misconceptions come from?
The answer may lay with some of the current treatment methods for cancer patients having similarities with the properties or functionality of infrared saunas. The first being whole-body hyperthermia, and the second being near-infrared photoimmunotherapy.
Before we jump into these two known-treatments, let's quickly clarify some questions regarding infrared saunas and cancer cells.
Can the Use of Infrared Sauna Fight Cancer?
There is no evidence to suggest that infrared saunas and their application in recreational settings can have any impact on cancer cells. Infrared saunas utilises a full spectrum of infrared wavelengths, near, mid and far-infrared, to gently heat the core body temperature. This infrared wavelength is safe to the human body in all levels of exposure.
Is Infrared Sauna a Carcinogen?
Speculation of infrared radiation being carcinogenic comes from the relationship of ultraviolet exposure and cancer causing cells. The concept being because we get both UV and IR radiation from sun exposure, and too much sun exposure causes skin cancers, that there is a possibility that IR exposure also causes skin cancers.
A study conducted on mice found that IR exposure did not induce skin tumours, nor did the combination with UV enhance or inhibit the growth behaviour. This study points out that IR is irrelevant to the development of skin tumours, thus showing that IR is a safe and carcinogenic light form.
Can Infrared Saunas be Harmful?
In relation to causing cancer cells, infrared saunas are safe. There is no relationship between IR and cancer causing properties. Yes, there are potential risks to infrared saunas if they're not used properly. Like with most things, moderation is key. Any sauna therapy comes with a risk of dehydration if it's not used correctly. Following common sense and listening to your body will ensure a safe, relaxing, enjoyable and healthy experience each and every time.
Is Far Infrared Sauna Good for Cancer Patients?
There is no development in far infrared light being used in a treatment for cancer cells. Therefore, far infrared is not consider a treatment form in any case. Its application for heat therapy in cancer patients should be advised from a medical practitioner only.
Does Infrared Sauna Prevent Cancer?
There is no evidence that IR radiation exposure can prevent cancer formations. What we do know from an animal study mentioned above is that IR does not cause, nor affect the development of skin tumours caused from UV radiation.
What are the Health Benefits of Infrared Sauna Therapy?
Infrared saunas provide a wide range of health benefits and is a suitable alternative or supportive treatment in conjunction with modern medicine for many lifestyle diseases.
Exciting New Research Utilises NIR for Cancer Treatments
A study presented at the American Association for Cancer Research annual meeting has revealed exciting new findings on the clinical trials of photoimmunotherapy (NIR-PIT), a novel cancer treatment. Specifically, it was observed that NIR-PIT had the potential to unleash immune activity against tumours in mice by depleting the tumour microenvironment of certain immune cells that act to restrain the immune response against tumours.
In addition, another study published in Oncotarget showed that NIR-PIT can specifically target cancer cells that express a cell-surface protein that is present at high levels in several aggressive human cancers.
In both cell cultures and mice models, this photoimmunotherapy was found to be effective in reducing tumour size without causing any adverse effect on normal healthy cells or internal organs nearby.
Notably, NIR-PIT harnesses NIR to trigger the release of photosensitive molecules within cancer cells and then convert into toxic molecules which kill cancer cells while leaving normal cells unharmed.
The promising findings from these two studies suggest that NIR-PIT may become a more accessible cancer treatment, as well due to its ability to reduce the number of protective immune cells around tumours.
How Does NIR Kill Cancer Cells in Studies
A 2021 study by Dr Kobayashi into photoimmunotherapy utilised a drug that binds to cancerous cells in the body. The drug is then activated by targeted NIR. The immunotherapy agent in the drug transitions from its Y-shaped form into something completely different - becoming warped and distorted. This causes significant disruption within the cell's outer membrane, leading to liquids bursting through and eventually leading to death in less than a minute after exposure.
What is Photoimmunotherapy and How Does it Work?
Photoimmunotherapy has been hailed as a breakthrough in cancer research, combining the proven benefits of photodynamic therapy with activated T cells and antibodies to target specific parts of tumours. This advanced approach seeks out cancer cells and destroys them while leaving healthy tissue unaffected, while stimulating immune cell responses.
The result is an impressive treatment that not only offers faster results and better targeting than traditional therapies but also reduces unpleasant side effects like damage to healthy cells in neighbouring tissue.
An example of this precision targeting is the first human study which utilised an antibody to target epidermal growth factor receptors to treat head and neck cancer that was approved by the FDA for fast-track testing in 2018. In short, Photoimmunotherapy's combination of therapies provides an accessible and sustainable way forward for successfully treating metastatic cancer.
How is Infrared Light Used in Photoimmunotherapy?
NIR has proven to be an invaluable tool for scientists researching photoimmunotherapy treatments. This is largely due to NIR's capability to create a large absorption at 700 nm, meaning it can stimulate tissues without producing any toxic or ionising radiation when used at the correct energy level.
This property of NIR gives researchers the opportunity to both activate an immune response in certain cases as well as observe how activated T cells (cells that attack infected cells) behave within those cases. Researchers can now observe the functional details of these cells in far more detailed level than before.
Additionally, because NIR only works at specific wavelengths and energies, it has less risk of damaging healthy tissues during treatment, allowing for safer and more efficient photoimmunotherapy methods.
Overall, NIR has revolutionised research into diseases like cancer by providing scientists with a powerful tool for activating and observing T cell responses on a much deeper level than ever before.
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Cancer Cells and Heat Treatments: Whole-body Hyperthermia for Healthy Cells
Hyperthermia treatment is a promising cancer treatment option involving the selective heating of tumour tissue. This type of hyperthermia, called whole body hyperthermia (WBH), requires precise calibration for success. Its effectiveness lies in its ability to increase oxygen supply to tumours and sensitise cancer cells to radiation therapy and chemotherapy.
Though still in its research phase, the promising combination of hyperthermia in conjunction with other treatments in clinical studies has been a breakthrough in the fight against inoperable tumours. Technological advancements in the delivery of loco-regional hyperthermia treatments has allowed for safer use of high temperatures in certain types of cancer.
How Does WBH Work?
Hyperthermia works by causing cancer cells to overheat and die while leaving healthy tissue unharmed. The internal heating mechanism of the body must rise to at least 42 degrees Celsius, while maintaining a high oxygen environment.
The heat damaged proteins in the cells cause them to disperse heat toxins into the bloodstream which function as a built-in immune system, destroying any nearby cancerous cells. Its major advantage is that it helps boost the potency and effectiveness of other forms of cancer therapies, most notably chemotherapy and radiation treatments.
The unique ability of excessive heat to kill cancer cells while also carrying essential nutrients with efficient circulation makes hyperthermia an increasingly popular choice in treating a cancer patient.
Is WBH the Same as an Infrared Sauna?
An infrared sauna and WBH are two completely different things. An infrared sauna is a tool that utilises infrared heat to provide a range of wellness benefits, such as relaxation, detoxification, weight loss, pain relief and more.
WBH is an intense heat treatment that raises the core temperature to extreme levels for prolonged periods of time. The high temperatures offer an increase in immune function, blood circulation and pain management.
Far Infrared Therapy and Sauna Heat for Treatments
Infrared saunas are not known to be used in WBH cancer treatments, however, a recent study looking at the effects of whole body hyperthermia as a treatment for clinical depression used a Clearlight Dome Sauna with outstanding results. While these treatments utilises the same basic principles, the nuances of these therapies and outcomes vary greatly. Therefore always seek expert medical advice when seeking treatment options.
Cancer Science: Understanding normal cells and tumour cells
Cancer is caused by abnormal cell growth resulting from genetic mutations or changes in DNA. There are over a hundred different types of cancers, each classified depending on the type of cell they originate from. Tumour cells have two variants, malignant cells which are able to grow, invade and spread, and benign tumours which cannot. Malignant tumours can metastasize, which is when cancer cells spread from their original site to other areas of the body.
The immune system identifies molecular patterns that may alarm the body that a cell is mutating into a cancer cell. This is done through dendritic cells, which have special receptors that can detect such activity. Allowing them to alert the rest of the immune system when they encounter a foreign invader.
What causes the cells to mutate is not completely known, however, we know that cancer cell proteins play a critical role in this development of the cancer cell. Cancer cell proteins are molecules found within the cell membrane that play a critical role in tumour progression, metastasis, and prognosis.
In summary, cells play an integral role in predicting and treating cancer; they serve as biomarkers by providing diagnostic information regarding illness and enable therapies targeting specific receptors or molecules involved in tumour growth or metastasis.
Research into these proteins continues to expand our understanding of both diagnosis and treatment methods for different types of cancers and will lead to improved therapies in the future as well increased accuracy in diagnosing patients who may be at risk for developing certain forms of this deadly disease.
Sauna Clinical Studies
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