We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is a Cytotoxin?

By Douglas Bonderud
Updated Mar 03, 2024
Our promise to you
The Health Board is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At The Health Board, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

A cytotoxin is any substance which has a toxic effect on cells. The term cyto is of Greek origin, and refers to 'a hollow container.' It is used as a preface when describing a biological cell. Some common examples of cytotoxins include chemical agents and certain snake venoms. Cytotoxins typically attack only a specific type of cell or organ, rather than an entire body.

Cells that have been affected by a cytotoxin can perish in several different ways. One is necrosis. In this form of cell death, the cells lose integrity in their membrane wall and collapse. Another type of possible cell death is apoptosis. This type of death is pre-programmed into the cell itself before the cytotoxin arrives. It is typically a beneficial property, as seen when cells in the fingers and toes of developing human babies undergo apoptosis, leading to the separation of digits.

When a cytotoxic apoptosis occurs, the pre-programmed death sequence of a cell is prematurely turned on. Once the sequence has begun, there is no way to reverse it. The genetic process make take minutes or days, but cell death is inevitable. Necrosis usually accompanies apoptosis in its later stages.

Cytotoxic agents can also kill clusters of cells simply by limiting their abilities to grow, divide, and reproduce. Although cytotoxins are often regarded as harmful substances, they are also used in medicine, particularly in the treatment of cancer. If the cancer cells in a neoplasm, or tumor, are targeted with a cytotoxin, they will die at a far faster rate than healthy cells, owing to their higher reproduction rate. A cytotoxin applied in the right dosage at the right time can cure a cancer with minimal harm to the patient. This form of cancer treatment is also known as chemotherapy, and it is because of healthy cell death, due to the administered cytotoxin, that such patients suffer hair loss and reduced immune system function.

Certain diseases also produce their own cytotoxins. Diphtheria and scarlet fever both generate toxins that worsen the effects of the illness. If left untreated, the cytotoxic process can progress to a stage in which a patient may not recover, even if the original disease is cured. An example of a common cytotoxin is the helicobacter pylori bacteria, which is found in the stomach and duodenum. This bacteria breaks down urease found in the stomach, which creates ammonia. This ammonia is toxic to the stomach's epithelial cells, and can lead to stomach ulcers and cancer.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By miriam98 — On May 17, 2011

@anon169953 - The problem with medical treatments like chemotherapy is that they kill good cells along with the bad. By the time the patient discovers this, the damage is done.

I personally believe that natural approaches are the best. The fact is that cancer cannot thrive in an alkaline environment. Once the cancer patient flushes toxins from their body by changing to an alkaline diet, the toxins leave, and the patient is much healthier than before.

I have one friend who has been on chemotherapy and medication, and he had all sorts of cytotoxin side effects in his body. The doctor finally let him stop the medication, and this guy is ten now times better than before.

By anon169953 — On Apr 24, 2011

What needs to be included is the fact that the National Cancer Institute indicates that 20 to 40 percent of cancer patients die, not of their cancer, but of malnutrition related causes and that fully 80 percent suffer some effects of malnutrition. After four years of oral medications, my wife agreed to a four month protocol of intravenous chemotherapy.

Three months after the last infusion, my wife of 43 years passed away. In my wife's case, I believe that the chemotherapy damaged or destroyed the bacteria of the digestive system to the point that it was not able to absorb the nutrients from her food. Unfortunately, my wife's doctor - a woman - was more interested in another cycle of a different cytotoxin protocol and did absolutely nothing to help build her up after her chemotherapy.

The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.