How does cancer signal the brain?


Cancer can indeed signal the brain, affecting the body's response to the disease. In particular, neurons play a significant role in the progression of cancer. For instance, in melanoma, neurons can secrete a signaling molecule called CGRP (calcitonin gene-related peptide), which influences immune cells around the tumor. This signaling leads to a reduction in the immune cells' ability to patrol and combat the tumor, facilitating its growth and spread 1.

Additionally, studies have shown that secretions from colon tumors can convert brain cells into promoters of tumor growth. These cancer cells essentially communicate with the brain to create an environment that supports further tumor development 2.

Such findings highlight the complex interaction between cancer and the brain, emphasizing how the disease can manipulate bodily functions to its advantage.

Neurons and Cancer

Neurons have been found to play a role in the progression of cancer, particularly melanoma. Through the release of a signaling molecule called CGRP, neurons can shut down immune patrolling function, allowing tumors to grow and spread. This opens up the possibility of exploring how mental processes, such as meditative practice, could potentially slow down tumor progression.

Huberman Lab

Dr. David Linden: Life, Death & the Neuroscience of Your Unique Experience | Huberman Lab Podcast