Alpha-lipoic acid, cancer, neuropathy and diabetes

Alpha-lipoic acid, cancer, neuropathy and diabetes
Alpha-lipoic acid is a naturally occurring fatty acid and antioxidant found in many foods and which is also made in human mitochondria; as a supplement, it is primarily used with peripheral neuropathy or nerve pain particularly in diabetes; it seems to prevent and repair damage in neurons, restrict chemotherapy damage and protect healthy cells, restoring Vitamin C and vitamin E levels.
Alpha Lipoic Acid, or ALA, is a powerful, sulphur-containing thiol, a free-radical scavenger and antioxidant, that is capable of regenerating other antioxidants in the body as they get used up fighting free-radicals. Being both water soluble and fat soluble, it is found in the mitochondria of every tissue in the body, being used as a co-factor in energy production.
ALA also helps regulate blood sugar and has been shown to cross the blood-brain barrier.
Alpha-lipoic acid and its metabolite Dihydrolipoic Acid (DHLA) can also chelate heavy metals.
Because of its energy-boosting and neuropathy-preventing abilities, alpha-lipoic acid is used as a complementary therapy to Chemotherapy.

There is research to suggest that it may help treat non-alcoholic liver disease, reduce the side-effects of diabetes (such as neuropathy), and help in combination with Low Dose Naltrexone, or with artemisinin (sweet wormwood) in fighting cancer.

Natural sources of alpha-lipoic acid include green leafy vegetables, red meat, heart and liver, eggs, onions and garlic. It can also be called lipoate, thioctan and lipoic acid.
Alpha-lipoic acid and cancer
ALA’s abilities as a free-radical scavenger are just the start. It affects a variety of biological  processes associated with oxidative stress.  In a 2005 study in mice(1), ALA and DHLA were shown to ‘effectively induce apoptosis in human colon cancer cells by a pro-oxidant mechanism that is initiated by an increased uptake of oxidizable substrates into mitochondria’. Causing ’oxygenation’ of cells and especially mitochondria has both a cancer preventative and corrective effect.
While ALA and DHLA effectively caused cell death in colon cancer cells, they actually enhanced the oxygenation of healthy cells. As always, the biochemistry of cancer cells is quite different to healthy cells which is why a compound like ALA can protect healthy cells, whilst damaging cancer cells.
In a 2012 study(2), ALA reduced liver stress and damage while controlling the growth and spread of cancers in mice. The following year, ALA was shown to perform better in cell cultures than chemotherapy drug and antibiotic Mitomycin-C, showing that it had anti-genotoxic and anti-tumour effects(3).
ALA is actually a crucial enzyme in electron transport in the mitochondria. Two chemical compounds PDK and PDC are inter-related in mitochondrial activity. When one goes up, the other goes down and vice versa. ALA increases PDC which inhibits PDK, found in high levels in cancer cells.
Combinations may prove even more effective. Other compounds available as supplements are also known to have similar PDC enhancing benefits, for example: carnitine and thiamine, while CoQ10, vitamin K2 and even melatonin can cause apoptosis in cancer cells.
In research at St. George’s Hospital, London and in the University of Singapore, research has shown that the herb artemisinin can kill colorectal cancer cells and increase the survival times of colorectal cancer patients. ALA has been shown to further enhance the results.
Its proven role as a ‘helper’ for other anti-cancer agents is interesting:


Alpha-lipoic acid, blood sugar control and diabetes
In a randomised, double blind placebo controlled study, researchers studying the use of ALA with diabetes were expecting to show a reduction in damaging side-effects due to a reduction in oxidative stress. Instead they saw some reduction, but a far bigger effect in glucose status(4).
It is known that herb Berberine regulates blood sugar just as well as the drug metformin in diabetes. It is also known that Berberine has effects against the energy production system in cancer cells. As long ago as 1999 a study showed ALA could reduce blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes(5). The jury is out over whether or not it is safe to use the two together, but you can buy supplements containing both combined.

Obviously, reducing blood sugar is also advantageous when fighting cancer and some other chronic illnesses.



Go to: 20 links between sugar and cancer








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