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To the surprise of many, researchers from Washington state have discovered that chemotherapy may not be the paragon of cancer treatment after all. While it has been an industry standard for decades, this new research has shown that chemo drugs may actually cause more cancer to grow, and at a faster rate to boot.

The findings, which were published in the journal Nature Medicine, showcased how certain chemotherapy drugs can affect healthy cells by triggering them to release a cancer-feeding protein.

This cancer-feeding protein, WNT16B, is produced by healthy cells after they’ve been subjected to chemo, promotes cancer cell growth and proliferation, and can also enhance cancer cell survival. Chemotherapy drugs have also been known to cause DNA damage to healthy cells, which is a long-term detriment that remains persistent even after treatment is completed.

You can see where persistent DNA damage and the release of cancer-feeding proteins would be problematic. After all, damaged DNA is what creates cancer in the first place. These two things alone make chemotherapy drugs more like cancer-causing agents, rather than cancer-treating cures.

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