I had the great opportunity to interview one of my favorite doctors. Dr. Cesar Nuñez from Lima Peru, who gave me the great opportunity to respond to this interview in a virtual way, thanks to the advances in technology that we all already have. His experience and knowledge on the subject of cancer are very broad and in my point of view very accurate. In the article that I am sharing with you today, Dr. Nunez explains in more depth what is currently known about our wonderful "Immune System" and its function. I learned a lot and I hope you do too. Let's get started!
What is the Immune System and what is its function?
The Immune System is the set of tissues, organs, cells, subcellular products (cellular signals, cytokines, chemokines, etc.) that keep us from bone disease without disease, the function of the immune system is inherent in its name (immune) to defend ourselves of any agent that may cause us damage, whether external or internal.
What are the 5 parts of the Immune System?
There are different ways to classify the Immune System
For its constituent organs
Due to the response function of its cells [innate immune system (it is the one that is in place since we are born) and adaptive (the one that is formed after birth)]
But what current knowledge is revealing is that the more we try to define and frame the immune system for our understanding, the further we move away from its integral function. Our whole body is made up of immune elements, our skin (langerhans cells) our mucosa (lymphoid tissue associated with mucosa) each of our organs has associated immune system elements. And while it is important to know the function of each organ and each cell, it is the integrated function that will shed more light on how it acts on each disease.
What are the 3 best functions of the Immune System?
The function of the immune system is to distinguish what is self from what is non-self, this broader concept is the one that defines it in the best way.
There is also a differentiation between innate and adaptive immune responses but the more is known about the immune system, new cells, new signaling mechanisms, the more it is known that the immune response in general is innate and adaptive.
The fact is that the self and the non-self is detected through antigens (it is the substance that triggers the immune response), if viruses appear, the immune system detects the viral antigens to produce the antiviral response; if tumor cells appear, the immune system detects tumor antigens to generate an antitumor response.
What are the signs of a weak immune system?
I do not know if it is appropriate to define a weak immune system and establish signals because the immune system, as a system, works in balance (it is at rest) and is activated depending on the needs to perform its functions. That being said, the symptoms of a weakened immune system can be very diverse, as well as its causes, and the symptoms in turn can be confused or mimicked with many diseases. However, most of the time that our immune system acts we are not realizing that it happens because most of its reactions are not systemic (with fever or inflammatory reactions) but localized.
A deficient immune system is defined in the literature when the number of its defense cells (leukocytes) is below the established range, also when a patient does not have a spleen, but we must also take into account that there are specific immunodeficiencies that are not due to low number of cells but of some type of cell in particular: B lymphocyte, T lymphocyte or poor reaction (complement deficiency).
How do we weaken our immune system and how do we strengthen it?
We weaken our immune system as we weaken all our other systems by breaking the balance in our lifestyle:
- Inadequate nutrition.
- Absent or inappropriate physical activity.
- Altered emotional state.
Now, it is important to understand that these three elements of our lifestyle are interrelated (just as we cannot separate mind-body-soul) we cannot separate nutrition-activity-emotional state, it is the breakdown of this balance that weakens our systems.
Strengthening our immune system is seeking this balance.
How do we check our immune system?
Assessing and monitoring our immune system is commonly done in the blood.
If the number of cells of the immune system are fine then our immune system "is fine" (in quantitative value) but as the immune system uses many elements for its functioning then evaluating should mean doing a complete check up of blood tests (hemogram , magnesium, zinc, calcium, vitamin D) as well as a complete physical and psychological examination that reveals any alteration or symptom that is related to a persistent immune disease per se.
Does cancer weaken the immune system permanently?
Cancer is defined immunologically as a specific acquired immunodeficiency.
Then it does not permanently weaken the immune system, and if this specific deficiency is corrected in its entirety then it will be overcome. The association of Cancer with low defenses is more associated with the use of chemotherapy and radiotherapy to combat it and even the use of these tools do not generally cause permanent damage to the immune system.
Author, Dr. Cesar Nuñez, Lima - Peru