Remission in leukemia children

Information Compiled by
Richard W. Pressinger (M.Ed.)

Children with leukemia who experience remission have been found to have better immune system function.
The information below explains this research finding and the importance of the immune system in removing cancer cells from the body.

Immune system attacking cancer cell

The above microscopic photograph shows the normal function of immune system white blood cells attacking and eliminating a cancer cell. 



The immune system is comprised of various types of white blood cells which function to remove bacteria - viruses and cancer within the individual.  The primary "leukemia eating" white blood cell cited by the research is called a NATURAL KILLER CELL.  Natural Killer Cells (often called NK cells) normally comprise about 15% of the total lymphocyte count (lymphocytes are the white blood cells which mature in the lymph glands and comprise about 30-40% of the total white blood cells).

It is a fact that many modern chemicals (from vehicle exhaust - to disinfectants - to pesticides) have now been found to slow or even "stop"  the immune system's ability to remove cancer cells from the body.

Some children are also born with a  weaker immune system due to environmental exposures occurring to the mother during pregnancy or to compromises in the father's sperm quality due to his exposure to DNA damaging circumstances two months prior to conception (the time required for sperm to fully develop within the testicles).

It is essential for parents of children with cancer to fully understand the importance of the immune system in fighting cancer, as this understanding will motivate the removal or at least reduce tolerated exposures to many common chemical sources.

What would be the expected consequence if a child was placed into an environment where he/she was repeatedly exposed to chemicals which have this "weakening effect" upon the immune system?

Certainly, the risk for any type of cancer now greatly increases.  

The following research has just recently be located from the University of South Florida Medical Library and is currently being summarized and placed onto this web site. 


Summary of the Research

Natural Killer Cell Activity and Cytokine-Production
Predicts Future Health of Leukemia Patients

SOURCE: LEUKEMIA, 10:478-482, 1996

Researchers at the Department of Internal Medicine, Tottori University Faculty of Medicine, Japan studied the natural killer cell activity and production of cytokines from 44 leukemia patients who had either gone into remission or experienced a relapse back into a full leukemia state.  In conclusion the researchers stated:

In this study, the Natural Killer Cell activity was severely decreased in the patients at untreated or relapsed stage, but it increased gradually during remission after consolidation.  However, it was still lower than the control value even at maintenance or off treatment stage...... The ability to produce the cytokines IL-1, IFN and IL-2 (cytokines are natural compounds produced by the immune system that enhance many aspects of immune system activity)which are potent regulators of Natural Killer cell function, is severely depressed in Acute Leukemia not only at untreated or relapsed stage but also after consolidation and at maintenance or off treatment; in addition, the absolute numbers of Natural Killer cells are low at these stages.  These observations suggest that the Natural Killer activity is remarkably depressed in Acute Leukemia patients.

F. Tajima, T Kawatani, A Endo and H. Kawasaki
Second Department of Internal Medicine
Tottori University Faculty of Medicine, Yonago, Japan
LEUKEMIA, 10:478-482, 1996

Chemicals Found to Damage Immune System

Source: Environmental Research: 1990
University of California

The research cited previously shows just how important the immune system is in determining whether a child will win or lose a battle with cancer.  Over the past 5-10 years there have been more and more modern-day chemicals identified which can damage these essential cancer fighter cells.

Plastics Chemical Weakens Killer Cells
The chemical tributyltin (TBT) is used in antifouling paints, as a catalyst and in marine applications. It is also used in common PVC plastics. The chemical’s effect on the immune system of laboratory animals was studied at the University of California and reported in the 1990 journal Environmental Research. Their investigation found that laboratory animals fed even extremely small levels of the chemical (10 and 100 parts per billion) for only one week caused a 38% and 46% reduction of Natural Killer cell activity (Natural Killer cells attack virus infected cells and cancer cells). The researchers stated this inhibition of immune activity may "predispose the animals to malignancy."



Research studies showing which chemicals are being found to weaken immune system function.

Our main index page on research showing how chemicals harm human health