Cancer Prevention Latest Research April- May 2009 - 3

Below are a number of articles referring to cancer prevention through lifestyle, diet and nutrition that have appeared in CANCERactives icon magazine. Just click on the title to read the piece.

 

 

Take Ginger to quell nausea from chemotherapy

 

70 per cent of chemotherapy patients experience nausea, even when they take an anti-sickness drug. That’s according to the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York, which is why they looked for something that worked.

600 patients participated in a clinical trial involving an anti-nausea drug. (90 per cent were women; two thirds had breast cancer). Some also took ginger, others took a placebo. The group taking the ginger reported 40 per cent less nausea. Apparently 1 gramme (or half a teaspoon) was the best dose.

Ginger is a root from South East Asia. It is an antioxidant and has been known to have a calming effect on the stomach for centuries.All those home remedies involving ginger were the right thing to do, said Douglas Blaney, President-elect of the American Society for Clinical Oncology.

(Ed: The next step presumably is to run a clinical trial with ginger and the drug or ginger and a placebo. Maybe ginger works without the drug?)

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Crucial role of fibre and beneficial bacteria in cancer fight shown

Scientists at the American Medical College of Georgia (MCG) have discovered how fibre works in the fight against cancer: It works with beneficial bacteria in the colon to activate a receptor in the body that can kill cancer. The beneficial bacteria produce butyrate from the fibre and this activates a receptor (GPR109A), which in turn has two effects: Firstly, it blocks the CoX-2 protein that causes inflammation; and secondly it sends signals out to cancer cells telling them to self-destruct. 
"We know the receptor is silenced in cancer but its not like the gene goes away," Dr. Vadivel Ganapathy, corresponding author and chair of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in the MCG School of Medicine, said in a statement to media. Cancer shuts down the gene by a process called DNA methylation.

"Colon cancer does not want butyrate produced by bacteria to come inside so it silences the transporter. It also does not want butyrate to act on the cell from the outside so it silences the receptor," Dr. Ganapathy explained in the media statement. "It does not want to have anything to do with butyrate. We think receptor activation by butyrate suppresses inflammation, thereby suppressing progression of inflamed cells into cancer cells."

(Ed: Naturally, the scientists have concluded that patients may benefit by taking high doses of butyrate - It tastes terrible. An alternative according to Dr. Ganapathy is to take large amounts of niacin, a B vitamin, which could have the same effect.
The only problem facing cancer patients is that the whole concept of high fibre helping to beat cancer is flawed if you have an important ingredient missing the beneficial bacteria. And from the moment you take your first drug, you start to destroy these important helpers.)

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’Vitamin D improves colon cancer survival’ study

The Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, has produced a study (Journal of Clinical Oncology - June 20, 2008 showing that high blood levels of vitamin D increased survival rate in colon cancer patients by 48 percent.
In the study, Dr. Kimmie Ng and her team collected data on 304 patients who had been diagnosed with colon cancer between 1991 and 2002. Everyone in the study had their vitamin D blood levels measured a minimum two years before being diagnosed. Dr. Ng and her team found that the patients with highest vitamin D levels were 39 percent less likely to die from colorectal cancer, compared to the patients who had the lowest levels.

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Dietary study shows importance of vitamin E against lung cancer

A higher intake of natural vitamin E can cut the risk of lung cancer by 55 per cent. (University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center - International Journal of Cancer)

The study was unique in that it looked at dietary levels of natural vitamin E, rather than the usual tests that involve supplements. Although natural vitamin E contains 4 forms of tocopherol, and 4 of tocotrienol, the research only followed the tocopherols. People with the highest tocopherol intake were found to have a 55 percent lower risk of lung cancer than people with the lowest intakes. The average intakes of the two groups were more than 12.95 milligrams per day and less than 6.68 milligrams per day, respectively.

A powerful protective correlation also showed up for just the alpha-tocopherol, form with those consuming the most having a 53 percent lower risk of lung cancer than those with the lowest intake. Vitamin pills in Europe contain mostly synthetic alpha-tocopherol, about which there have been some concerns.

More can be found on vitamin E, click here.

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Alcohol link to pancreatic cancer shown

A research study published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention has found that drinking two alcoholic drinks every day can increase ones risk of getting pancreatic cancer.

The study team at Georgetown University, Washington, DC examined the findings of 14 previous studies involving 863,000 men and women, of whom 2,187had the cancer, on the subject of alcohol consumption and pancreatic cancer.  The researchers concluded that people who consumed two or more alcoholic drinks per day had 22% increased risk of the disease.
Two or more drinks a day raised womens risk by 41%, while only elevating mens risk by 12%. However at three drinks a day, the increased risk for the most common type of pancreatic cancer, an adocarcinoma, jumped to 60 per cent. 
The effects seem more pronounced where the person was of normal weight rather than obese. There was no difference by alcohol type.

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Trans-fats linked to increased colorectal cancer

In a study in the American Journal of Epidemiology a higher consumption of trans- fatty acids can increase a persons risk of pre-cancerous colorectal abnormalities such as polyps by 86 per cent.

It used to be thought that trans-fats (the product of the hydrogenation of  vegetable oils with the result that they are more stable on a supermarket shelf, but have virtually nothing of the original vegetable remaining in them) were simply inert good for nothing but harmless. That has since been refuted by several studies showing their dangers. Leading food health expert Walter Willett of Harvard Medical School has called trans fats the "worst single specific problem" facing health in the United States today. As a result packaging in the USA has to show trans-fat levels. MacDonald’s has been fined for failing to cease usage. We have covered the concerns before in icon. Cities such as New York and Philadelphia have banned their use in restaurants, and other major cities are due to follow. A ban on the use of trans-fats by all food outlets starts in California in 2010. Meanwhile the only thing inert about trans-fats is the British Government, who seem to say nothing.

In 2001 and 2002, researchers from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill interviewed 622 people about their diet, lifestyle and demographic information and then gave them a full colonoscopy. The participants with the highest intake of trans-fats were 86 per cent more likely to have colorectal abnormalities than the lowest consumption group.

Trans-fats raise are also known to raise blood levels of LDL ("bad") cholesterol while lowering levels of HDL ("good") cholesterol.

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Melanoma responds to selenium and a natural plant compound

Melanoma is one form of skin cancer that is hard to ’cure’. Previous research in icon has linked it to higher levels of oestrogen, the female sex hormone, and melanoma can be hard to treat if it has spread to other parts of the body. It responds poorly to the current drugs on offer and there are currently no drugs that can shut down the Akt3 protein which causes the cancer to develop.

Now research published in the March edition of the journal Clinical Cancer Research suggests there is a strong alternative: A natural compound derived from vegetables, especially when combined with the micronutrient selenium, seems to deliver the anti-melanoma goods.

Penn State College of Medicine scientists have discovered that natural compounds called isothiocyanates found in cruciferous vegetables (like broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kale and Brussels spouts) target this protein. The researchers went on to conclude that the isothiocyanates were even more potent when used in combination with small doses of the mineral selenium.

"Selenium deficiency is common in cancer patients, including those diagnosed with metastatic melanoma," explained lead researcher Gavin Robertson, associate professor of pharmacology, pathology and dermatology at Penn State, in a statement to the media. "Besides, selenium is known to destabilise Akt proteins in prostate cancer cells."

To study the effectiveness of the isothiocyanates-plus-selenium compound (dubbed isoselenocyanate) the scientists injected laboratory mice with 10 million cancer cells. After six days, the rodents developed large tumors. Then half were treated with the vegetable compounds and the others were treated with the same naturally occurring chemicals supplemented with selenium. When combined with selenium, the compounds resulted in a 60 percent reduction in the rate of growth of the cancerous tumors, compared to the vegetable-only compounds. The researchers also tested three different human melanoma cell lines with the two versions of the compounds and determined the selenium-enriched version was 30 to 70 percent effective in inhibiting the human cancer cells.

"We found that the selenium-enhanced compounds significantly reduced the production of Akt3 protein and shut down its signaling network," Robertson, who is associate director of translational research and leader of the experimental therapeutics program at Penn State Hershey Cancer Institute, said in the press statement. "We have harnessed something found in nature to target melanoma. And since we only need tiny amounts to kill the cancer cells, it means even less toxic side-effects for the patient." (http://live.psu.edu/story/37998)

You can find out about the powers of Natural Compounds in my book ’The Rainbow Diet and how it can help you beat cancer’

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Bad science on vitamin C and chemo exposed

Many patients are routinely warned not to take antioxidant supplements when having chemotherapy for fear that somehow it will stop the drugs working. We have published detailed research before in icon that shows this is twaddle.

Now comes a study published in Cancer Research (2008; 68:8031-8038) warning that high doses of vitamin C could harm cancer patients by making chemotherapy drugs ineffective.

However a review of this research has exposed it as junk too. In a report in the March issue of the journal Alternative and Complementary Therapies it explains that the anti-vitamin C study was not only flawed but didnt actually use a form of vitamin C of any benefit to humans!

American nutrition expert Jack Challem has highlighted the basic flaws in the Cancer Research study which concluded vitamin C given to mice or cultured cells treated with common anti-cancer chemotherapy agents hampered those drugs anti-tumour effects. In a statement to the media, Challem pointed to two main problems with the study. First, the researchers did not use vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid. Instead, they used an oxidised form of vitamin C known as dehydroascorbic acid -- a compound that is not used as a dietary supplement in people.

Worse, the high levels provided to the rodents are actually known to be toxic!  "This study and the subsequent headlines were a grievous disservice to physicians and patients with cancer," Challem said in the press statement, adding that "considerable positive research...has shown striking benefits from high-dose vitamin C (ascorbic acid) in cancer cells and animals -- and in actual human beings. The ideal therapeutic approach would be to tailor individual treatment, including IV vitamin C, from a menu of options."

We have covered High-Dose Vitamin C therapy on our web site. It is used as both an alternative and a complementary therapy by cancer patients. According to Challem, the vitamin is believed to help treat cancer by increasing the oxygen levels inside the cancer cell, thus killing it. Vitamin C can also neutralise carcinogenic aflatoxins, protect healthy cells from metastatic activity and help the healing process after surgery. Increased survival times have been noted in several research studies using the correct form of vitamin C, which should be natural where possible as the co-factors help its natural action.

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Do Vegetarians live longer?

Ed:  Never say that I don’t have an open mind. Following my comments that I have seen research that shows vegetarians get less cancer, but that they also smoke less and drink less alcohol so is it the lack of meat that is having all the effect; and that Vegetarians do not seem to live longer as they still eat salt and other life limiting foods, I have been sent the following:

Vegetarians and Malnutrition Research by a team led by Professor Ibrahim Elmadfa at the University of Vienna found a much better than average intake of Vitamin C, Carotinoides, Folic acid, fiber and unsaturated fats. Where shortcomings may arise is for Vitamin B12, calcium and Vitamin D in a vegan diet. Astoundingly, however, study participants did not suffer from diseases, such as osteoporosis, typically related to inadequate intakes of these micro-nutrients.

I accept all of this no problem. The missive to me continues...........

In a study of 1904 vegetarians over 21 years by the German Cancer Research Center (Deutsche Krebsforschungszentrum), vegetarian men reduced their risk of early death by 50 per cent, women vegetarians benefit from a 30 per cent reduction in mortality.
 
The participants of the German Cancer Research Center study included 60 vegans (no animal products consumed), 1165 vegetarians (eating eggs, milk but no meat) with the remainder described as "moderate" vegetarians who occasionally ate fish or meat. The health of these study participants was compared with the average German population. Living longer seems not to be exclusively related to eating meat, though, as the results for moderate vegetarians was not statistically different from those for vegan or strict vegetarian diets.
 
Now, far be it from me to be picky, but this does not say that Vegetarians live longer, it says less men die an early death and that women benefit from a 30 per cent reduction in mortality (over what time? At what age?)

Indeed the second paragraph says clearly that ’living longer seems not to be exclusively related to eating meat’ all the groups lived the same. And that, I think, supports my point. Vegetarians are 80 per cent less likely to smoke. I would have thought that alone should help them live longer than the norm.

However, the research piece continues....... To the argument that it is not vegetarianism but a general interest in a healthier lifestyle which leads to such notable results, scientists reply with evidence that the majority of vegetarians do not cite health reasons for their lifestyle, but make their choice based on ethical commitment, environmental concerns or simply personal taste.
 
I’m sorry but this is a complete non-sequitur. They seem to be suggesting that Vegetarians do not have a healthier lifestyle. I don’t care what the reasons are for being a vegetarian, the question is, ’Do they live longer? And, if so, what’s the biochemical reason?’ This is what cancer patients want to know as so many rush off to give up meat eating.

Surely there must be a good epidemiology study that disproves my theory that they don’t live longer simply as a result of not eating meat?

I am very happy to acknowledge that vegetarians are highly principled people. And I note that red meat causes inflammation in the body and that must increase the risk of cancer. But I am an advocate of metabolic typing that we all have different biochemistries and that some people thrive on meat. I also deal in research evidence. And at the moment I have none.

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Garlic’s anti-cancer benefits shown in more research

Garlic (Allium sativum) is anti-bacterial and anti-viral, it actively boosts the immune system and there are several large-scale research studies which show people who eat the largest volumes of garlic contract less cancers. Several studies show that it can halt cancer cell proliferation, and another important action seems to be that garlic can prevent blood vessels forming to support tumours. Onions, chives and leeks also have similar, but lesser, benefits.
 
Garlic is probably most talked about for its ingredient allicin, which offers the most potent medicinal benefits. At a first level, Allicin has antibacterial and anti-fungal properties, being known to kill moulds and yeasts. Research has shown it can also kill carcinogenic aflatoxins Research (Soni KB 1997) has shown that garlic enhances a liver enzyme that helps to detoxify aflatoxins before they cause damage. It can be used for fungal infections such as athlete’s foot but can cause a burning sensation on your skin when chopping newly grown garlic.

Several important studies show that natural compounds in garlic can restrict the formation of blood vessels required by tumours for growth, while there are general health benefits too. Research on garlic has shown an effect in lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

Scientists from the Republic of China have shown that garlic increases levels of cytokines and both defensive and attacking lymphocytes. All four cytokines were enhanced in humans given 100 mgs per kilo of weight per day.

Allicin is released when garlic is finely chopped or crushed. (Do you own a garlic crusher?) However the allicin produced denatures very quickly, and cooking (particularly in a microwave) destroys the benefits.
 
Garlic contains good levels of tryptophan, the precursor of seratonin, which is the precursor of melatonin.

Few people mention its selenium and germamium contents, when both are such good strengthening agents in the fight against cancer. They mop up free radicals and can also neutralise carcinogens. Germamium appears to help transport oxygen into cancer cells, thus increasing the chances of killing them. It also helps the body produce higher levels of interferon, a powerful anti-cancer force.

Several new studies have shown the benefits of other natural compounds in garlic. Particularly the sulphur containing compounds like S-ally cysteine and diallyl disulfide (DADS). One study from the Republic of Korea in the January 2009 issue of the Journal of Biochemical and Molecular Toxicology looked at DADS. This oil-soluble sulphur-containing natural compound was shown to inhibit cancer cell proliferation. The Korean scientists showed that DADS can re-activate a weakened p53 gene. Normally this repairs genetic faults. But, after 24 hours, the exposure to DADS seemed to encourage the p53 gene to increase levels of free radicals in the mitochondria and shut them down.

DADS has also been shown to improve blood flow, circulation, lower ’bad’ cholesterol, heighten ’good’ cholesterol, while it is a strong booster of the immune system. Another sulphur containing natural compound SAMC also restricts cancer cell growth. Prostate cells exposed to the garlic chemical SAMC grow at only 25 per cent the normal rate. Garlic has been shown to inhibit cancer in all tissues including breast, liver and colon. People who eat garlic more than once per week have half the rate of colon cancer in a study of 42,000 older women in Iowa. 

Garlic has been shown to have preventative action too. One study (March 2009 Mutation Research) outlined the process whereby garlic decreases genetic mutations and reduces the number of small and large papillary lung tumors. There is research showing that doses of garlic seem to directly inhibit bladder and stomach cancer tumour growth.
Garlic contains important polysaccharides and is also an important prebiotic.

Finally, garlic also seems to have an effect in protecting the body against the side effects of radiotherapy, particularly from DNA and chromosome damage.

New, young garlic oozes its oil. Old garlic has a green shoot in the centre, is less powerful, but more smelly! Garlic oil supplements, taken with cold liquids, can offer most of the benefits of the natural raw bulb.

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Organic Soya?

A recent ’Consumer Report’ on organic soya milk in the USA has caused a bit of a stir. Notwithstanding that soya milk can be extracted using all manner of chemicals, which turned up in some of the brands under test, it then transpired that the origins of the soya were not always transparent. Some brands owned up to sourcing in China, some brands were unclear as to GM content, some couldn’t show what quality checks were made on the sources in the foreign country. Critics are milking the story for all its worth.

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Cancer Prevention Latest Research April -May 2009
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