Monday, August 8, 2011

Your Body is a Song

Don't worry I'm not about to get all John Mayer up in here. I'd like to talk about the scientific side of whats going on inside the body. I read this very simplified idea a few years ago and thought it was interesting: Your body is a song. On a CD a song is a pattern of code called a .wav file. When you create a digital copy of it you get a perfect copy of the song. Then someone created .mp3's, a way to copy the song that takes out parts of the code that represents overlapping sound frequencies from different instruments to compress the file. Sometimes a file gets corrupted and you get a song that does not copy correctly. On an iPod or your car stereo it is easy to miss but on a expensive, well designed sound system you will hear the distinction.

So how does this apply to us? Think of your DNA as the .wav file. Your DNA is a pattern of code that tells the cells in your body how they are supposed to act. Cells die and are regenerated every day according to the DNA pattern. Sometimes a cell doesn't get the instructions correctly. There are a lot of reasons this can happen, but if the cell doesn't get the correct instructions it can mutate or die without being replaced. Parts of the code are left out, kind of like .mp3's. Cancer cells mutate, meaning they can grow, double or share the mutation with other cells. There are two types of mutations: benign and malignant. When a group of cells mutate but stop growing and don't travel in the body its called benign. When they grow out of control or travel and multiply they are considered malignant and can be very deadly. This is a very simplified example of what is going on, for a more detailed explanation you might want to check out this article.

Because of the way that cancer cells multiply early detection is the key to fighting it. Cancers that are close to the surface like skin, mouth, testicular, and breast cancer are sometimes easier to see or be felt earlier. The opposite of that are cancers that more interior, like prostrate, lymphoma, leukemia, and ovarian are harder to see in the beginning, which is why they are so deadly. By the time that symptoms are apparent it's often in stage III or IV. Going back to our song analogy, think of an MRI or other medical test as the more expensive sound system. All cancers can be deadly but finding them early is the key to getting treatment and stopping them. In our next few posts we will talk about testing and ways you can start fighting right now.


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