One of the most dreaded conditions anyone can experience is cancer. For those fortunate enough not to experience cancer firsthand, I would guess that you probably know someone – a friend or member of your family – that has dealt with this terrifying disease. Cancer can seem unstoppable. If your family has a history of cancer, you may feel like you are destined to get it, too. It is true that there are some genetics involved in cancer, but most experts agree that about 10% of your cancer risk comes from your genetics, and about 90% of the risk is from diet and environment. So you are NOT powerless to protect yourself, and those you love, from this disease. And if you have already had cancer, you are not powerless to help prevent its recurrence. One important step you can take is to eat organic. Eat foods the way nature made them, not combined with synthetic substances that ever before existed in our food supply. Another important step is to vote your conscience on issues of toxin elimination and environmental protection. We have been poor stewards of our planet, and it is time to get serious about a massive clean-up for the sake of our children and grandchildren. Yet another step is to get active. Find something that you love to do and try to do it every day. Get your heart pounding and your blood moving! Humans are not designed to sit still all day, then go home to sit still all evening, then to bed to be less active still. However, in this issue of Terry Talks Nutrition, we are going to be discussing some recent scientific research breakthroughs on proven natural supplements that may prove to be the best weapons ever for fighting against cancer!
Cancer and Inflammation
As prevalent as cancer is, it is not normal. Normal cells do what they should: they grow and divide to form the tissues in our bodies, they grow old, they die, and then they are replaced by new cells. In cancer, this doesn’t happen. Instead, cells grow out of control. They multiply too quickly, and do not die. Then, in a process called “metastasis,” they spread to other organs. While many factors are involved in the origins of cancer in the body, one of the most dangerous root causes is inflammation. Since the research of Rudolf Virchow in the 19th century, there has been a connection between inflammation and cancer. Current research continues to validate this view. As the body fights to control inflammatory markers, it actually creates free radicals. The problem is, our bodies can respond to this threat by creating more cells to make up for the damage from what it views as free radical “invaders”. But the process doesn’t always work properly, and damaged DNA can begin over-replicating cells. This sets the stage for cellular “population explosions” that can even draw in cells from surrounding unrelated tissue. So what you really have here is a relationship between inflammation, free-radical damage, and DNA mutation. And this is why finding the right nutrients are so important.
Curcumin: Extraordinary Inflammation Fighter
Curcumin, the key compound from the spice turmeric, can stop inflammation and free radical damage in their tracks. It inhibits the way the body overexpresses inflammatory markers, including interleukin 1b (IL-1b), interleukin 6 (IL-6), and tumor necrosis factor-a (TNF-a). Because inflammation fuels the growth of cancer, this is important. And in very direct way, curcumin alters the potential for tumors by inhibiting the activity of matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9) and MMP-2. These enzymes (also known as proteases) are normally involved with building tissue, which in most cases is a good thing, but obviously that’s not the case when you’re talking about tumors. Curcumin has been shown to inhibit these proteases as they try to build tumors in liver cancer cells. Beyond that, other studies have shown that curcumin can inhibit the spread of many different types of cancer cells, including cancers of the bladder, breast, lung, pancreas, prostate, cervix, ovary, kidney and brain. It can also fight osteosarcoma, leukemia, and melanoma. So, curcumin is important because it stops all three stages of cancer. It stops cancer cells from forming, kills existing cancer cells, and stops cancer cells from spreading. Curcumin has been used as both a preventative and as an addition to chemotherapy or radiation treatment. While common chemotherapeutic drugs cause serious side effects, curcumin produces none. Common anticancer drugs are immunosuppressive. Curcumin is an immune-restorer. Plus, most common anticancer medications cannot cross the blood/brain barrier, and curcumin can. There have been some challenges, though. Standard curcumin doesn’t absorb well, and because of this, clinical trials have used increasingly larger dosages (up to 10-12 grams daily) in order to get even a small amount into the bloodstream. There’s no toxicity associated with curcumin, even at these very high dosage levels, but cost, comfort and compliance are very real issues here. Newer research has focused on improving curcumin’s bioavailability, by adding lecithin and/or piperine. However, it’s important to avoid piperine in long-term treatment because it interferes with almost every prescription drug and can have terrible effects on the liver. A very successful way to enhance absorption of curcumin uses micronized curcumin (reduced to a very small particle) with phospholipids and turmeric essential oils. Comparison testing of this formulation (known as BCM-95®) has found it has up to 10 times the bioavailability and greater blood retention time than standard 95% curcumin extracts, and 6.3 times more than curcumin combined with lecithin and piperine. This is very important for anyone who wants to see fast effects from their curcumin without having to take huge dosages. If you have concerns about cancer – if it runs in your family, or you’re worried about the effects of your environment on the health of your cells, curcumin is the strongest natural cancer fighter to have on board.
Resveratrol: Strengthens the Power of Curcumin
But as strong as curcumin is, it does even better when it’s paired with resveratrol. You’re probably pretty familiar with resveratrol, the anti-aging compound found in red grapes. It’s considered to be one of the reasons behind what we call the “French Paradox”, in which people in France – despite their rich diets (of mostly whole foods and smaller portion sizes) seem to live longer, healthier lives. The prevalence of red wine during regular meals led researchers to discover that one of the compounds, resveratrol, did indeed appear to slow down the aging process, and even keep metabolism running more smoothly. Resveratrol is a strong free-radical fighter and cardioprotective ingredient. While it’s generally associated with red wine grapes, the compound has many botanical sources, all of which deliver the same resveratrol. It’s not much different than whether you get vitamin C from an orange or vitamin C from a kiwi. It’ll be the same form of vitamin C. In any case, like so many natural ingredients, resveratrol has a natural synergy when paired with other strong herbal extracts. Combining resveratrol with curcumin, for instance, greatly increases it’s free-radical fighting power. But beyond being a strong antioxidant and an anti-inflammatory, resveratrol is a strong cancer fighter, too. Like curcumin, it kills cancer cells and stops cancer cells from spreading. In fact, current research shows that the combination of curcumin and resveratrol may be another therapeutic – or even preventive – intervention to battle colon cancer.
Green Tea: Keeping Cells Healthy, Stopping Cancer Cells from Spreading
In the United States, we typically think of ourselves as a coffee-drinking nation. But did you know that second to water, tea is the most commonly consumed beverage in the world? Compounds in green tea have strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant abilities. One group of these compounds is called catechins, and of these, perhaps the most powerful is epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). As cancer fighters, green tea catechins appear to work on multiple fronts. They help prevent the DNA-damaging effects of oxidation and inflammation, prevent the development of cancer cells, inhibit the growth of tumor cells, (reducing tumor weight in the process), and improves chemotherapy treatment. Like curcumin, green tea appears to inhibit many types of cancer. Clinical research has shown that it treats premalignant lesions before prostate cancer can take hold. And, in Japan, where green tea consumption is traditionally much higher, boosting green tea consumption has also been effective against stage I and stage II breast cancer. In a case-control study in China, three types of cancer – pancreatic, colon, and rectal cancer – saw a decreased risk due to higher consumption of green tea. The numbers did show difference between women and men. For women, the reduced risk of pancreatic, colon, and rectal cancer was 47%, 43%, and 33% respectively. For men, the percentages were slightly lower overall; 37%, 18%, and 28%. Getting the amount of green tea catechins from consuming the beverage alone can be a challenge, so I recommend using an extract standardized to contain at least, (or more than) 95% polyphenols, 75% catechins, and 40% EGCG. Combine this with a resveratrol standardized to 8%, and a micronized curcumin rhizome (root) extract combined with phospholipids and turmeric essential oil. This last recommendation is important, because curcumin is normally difficult for the body to absorb. But this specialized curcumin extract has up to 10 times the bioavailability and greater blood retention time than standard 95% curcumin extracts and 6.3 times more than curcumin combined with lecithin and piperine. To get the most from these botanicals, I would recommend a 2400 mg daily of a blend of these ingredients.
Vitamin D: An Undervalued Miracle
Vitamin D is a miracle, no doubt about it. It can reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, build bones and stop osteoporosis, and prevent up to 70% of cancers. So why are so many Americans – up to 58% – so deficient in vitamin D? Mostly because this vitamin – actually a pro-hormone – has very few food sources, and many people don’t get the vitamin D they need from exposure to sunlight. Plus, because vitamin D uses cholesterol as a building block, cholesterol-lowering drugs actually make it more difficult for your body to synthesize vitamin D. And as we age, our skin changes structure in a way that can reduce vitamin D production by up to 60%. Our old recommended daily requirements for vitamin D are partly to blame as well. Set at 400 IUs, that is barely 10% of what the body needs. Unfortunately, this deficiency is associated with at least 17 forms of cancer. For example, research has found that high levels of vitamin D can reduce risk of colon cancer by 40%. Up to 75% of women with breast cancer are vitamin D insufficient, while high levels of vitamin D are associated with a 45% reduction in breast cancer risk. Other studies have found that vitamin D is able to enter breast cancer cells and trigger cell death – in other words, vitamin D can kill breast cancer cells. And, like the natural fighters we’ve looked at, vitamin D shows a protective effect for many types of cancer, including ovarian, prostate, stomach, bladder, kidney, and lung cancer. While there is no agreement on how much vitamin D a person needs for a daily intake, current research certainly shows a need for higher recommendations. In some disease treatment, extremely high dosages of 50,000 to 100,000 IU have been used, but for most of us, a daily intake of 1,000 to 2,000 IU of vitamin D – possibly boosting it to 4,000 IU in some circumstances – is probably just right.
You can fight back
Of course, the best way to fight cancer is to prevent it. If cancer runs in your family, or you consider yourself at risk, start taking these natural cancer fighters right away. Unfortunately, prevention isn’t always possible. If you are currently battling cancer, a combination of bioavailable curcumin with standardized resveratrol and green tea extract can enhance your current treatment. And everyone – no matter what their state of health – should add vitamin D to their regimen.
|Terry recommends products with these ingredients. Look for them at your local health food store.|
|Proprietary Blend Curcumin (BCM-95®) Micronized (Curcuma longa) Rhizome Extract, phospholipids, turmeric essential oil, Green Tea (Camellia sinensis) standardized to contain >95% polyphenols, 75% catechins, and 40% EGCG (no caffeine), Resveratrol from Polygonum cuspidatum standardized to contain 8% total resveratrols||412 mg|