The immune system safeguards the human body from illnesses resulting from viral, bacterial, and fungal infections.The white blood cells which the bone marrow produces recognizes and attacks germs in the body. However, cancer genetically modifies the structure and functioning of these normal cells. This causes them to grow, reproduce abnormally, and attack the remaining healthy cells.The white blood cells then fail to perform the primary role of being the body’s defense mechanism.

Paolo Boffetta – How does a weak immune system result in cancer?

Paolo Boffetta is a famous Italian epidemiologist who specializes in cancer research. He has a wealth of valuable experience spanning almost 30 years. During this period, he has made significant contributions to understanding how various factors influence cancer spread. This includes the role of smoking, alcohol consumption, and the environment.

He has held important positions at some of the world’s most prestigious cancer research institutions throughout his career. These include the American Cancer Society, International Agency for Research on Cancer, German Cancer Research Center, and Karolinska Institute. He is the author of over 80 medical books on cancer and several scientific articles. Currently, he holds the post of Vice President in the International Prevention Research Institute in Lyon.

He explains the immune system usually finds it difficult to identify and destroy cancerous cells. They initially appear normal but begin to grow abnormally after undergoing a sudden genetic change. This is when the immune system cannot recognize them as foreign bodies. He further states that people having a weak immune system are vulnerable to cancer because:


  • White blood cells are unable to distinguish the cancerous cells from the normal ones,
  • If the white blood cells do identify the cancerous cells, they are not strong enough to eradicate them, and
  • Often the cancerous cells emit substances which make it difficult for white blood cells to attack them.

Can cancer patients boost their immune systems?

He suggests people suffering from cancer can improve their immune system in the following ways:

  • Taking prophylactic antibiotics on their doctor’s recommendations,
  • Getting a flu vaccine on their doctor’s instructions within two weeks of their chemotherapy,
  • Consuming a nutritious diet consisting of raw vegetables, dairy products, fruits, and properly cooked meat,
  • Washing their hands regularly after using the toilet after eating meals, touching garbage, and sneezing.
  • Avoid spending too much time with sick people and sharing their personal belongings
  • Wear suitable protective gloves cleaning litter boxes or cages of their pets
  • Inform their doctors when they show symptoms of fever, diarrhea, continuous vomiting, and coughs.

In the opinion of Paolo Boffetta people with a weak immune system are more susceptible to cancer than others. When the disease spreads to their bone marrow, it cannot produce enough white blood cells. The ones present often fail to recognize the cancerous cells. Moreover, the white blood cells are not healthy enough to destroy them. Fortunately, people who have cancer can boost their immune system. To do so, they need to take prophylactic antibiotics and flu vaccines regularly. They should even wash their hands frequently, have a nutritious meal, and inform their doctors of uneasiness as and when it arises.