As I’ve discussed many times in this newsletter, some of the most important tools for fighting cancer are the natural substances you can find in foods and herbs.
And now researchers at the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center have shed some important light on how to combine these natural protectors and enhance your body’s resistance against cancer.
Their studies provide some evidence for the old saying that the whole can be greater than the sum of the parts.
What it comes to healthy alternatives, this means you shouldn’t invest all your hope in a single ingredient. Instead, combine many foods, supplements and therapies to improve your health.
A multi-pronged approach gives you the best chance of success. The LSU team has combined six potent anticancer foods and nutrients into their formula.
The First Time Ever…
In 2010, a group of researchers at the Dana-Farber institute of Harvard University Medical School figured out how to switch on what’s being called the “immortality gene”.
What the scientists saw “… was not a slowing down or stabilization of the aging process.” Instead, they “saw a dramatic reversal…”
The Anti-Cancer Cocktail
According to the Louisiana scientists, they originally became interested in studying a “super cocktail” of natural substances to fight cancer when they considered how persistent the disease is, and how remarkably it survives almost anything you throw at it.
Cancer is a tough disease to completely eradicate. As I’ve often emphasized, when you are treated for cancer, even if you completely get rid of a tumor and your doctors say they can detect no more sign of it, the disease can still lurk in your body – in the form of cancer stem cells — ready to make a comeback. What’s more, these are the cells that survived whatever you used in the first battle, so your previous treatments will have no effect on them.
“One of the primary causes of both the recurrence of breast cancer and deaths is a small group of cancer stem cells that evade therapy,” says researcher Madhwa Raj. “These often multi-drug-resistant cells have the ability to generate new tumors, so it is critically important to develop new approaches to more effective and safer treatment or prevention of breast cancer.”
Their Choice for the Six
Most Powerful Cancer-Fighters
The LSU research team focused on natural chemicals that, in their view, have shown the most promise in working against cancer. This multi-pronged approach is like the strategy of a chess master trying to defeat an opponent on several fronts, cutting off every avenue of aggression by the enemy.
The researchers point out that when they tested their cocktail against breast cancer cells, it slowed tumor growth by over 80 percent, kept the cancer from spreading and invading other organs, stopped cancer cell reproduction in its tracks and ended up, because of its strong influence on apoptosis, killing 100 percent of the breast cancer cells. As you’ll see, similar effects have been seen in other types of cancer.
The six chemicals used at LSU will be familiar to long-time readers of this newsletter: curcumin (from turmeric), quercetin (from fruits like apples and from tea), resveratrol (from grape seed extract), spirulina extracts (C-phycocyanin combined with selenium), isoflavone (from soy) and indol-3 carbinol (from cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower). For in-depth reports, you can check out previous issues #39, #61, #200, #242, #346, #364, #421, and #511.
Curcumin, a natural chemical taken from the spice turmeric, is a potent inhibitor of tumor development and can keep cancer from spreading in the body. In particular, curcumin and the chemical derivatives that the body makes from this substance can prevent breast cancer cells from metastasizing. It also causes these cells to self-destruct (a process called apoptosis).
Additionally, curcumin inhibits cancer by interfering with the processes that go on inside cancer cells. It slows the production and function of proteins that would otherwise help tumor cells reproduce.1
The resveratrol in grape seed extract can bring cellular activity in cancer to a halt. According to the LSU researchers, resveratrol calls genes into action that suppress tumors while activating a protein called Bax that causes cancer cells to undergo apoptosis.
Resveratrol is especially effective at getting cancer cells to rip themselves apart by the release of what are called caspase apoptotic signals. Caspases are self-perpetuating destructive enzymes that, once activated within cancer cells, cause a chain reaction – cutting up proteins and cell structures in a cascade of ever-increasing destruction.
Quercetin on cancer’s trail
Quercetin, another champ at causing cancer cells to submit to apoptosis, also activates Bax. Plus, it leads to the production of what is called “TRAIL-induced” apoptosis – tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand.
Ligands are substances that can bind to cell receptor sites known as death receptors. Once those receptors are activated, as you might guess, they set into motion the cancer cell’s self-destruct process.
Quercetin can also influence the Bcl-2 family of proteins, a set of chemicals in the cells that induce the cancer cells to liquidate themselves.
Quercetin on cancer’s trail
The indol-3-carbinol in cruciferous vegetables acts as an antioxidant that protects normal cells from succumbing to injury from free radicals. Without protection, the build-up of free radicals (a condition known as oxidative stress) can lead to cancer.
Indol-3-carbinol has also been shown to make cancer cells more reactive to chemotherapy drugs and thus easier to kill. Lab tests demonstrate it can help keep breast cancer from spreading to bone tissue.2
Spirulina and selenium
Extracts of spirulina – combined with selenium — were included in the LSU super-cockatil because of their power to inhibit tumor growth. The combination of selenium with spirulina stops cancer cells from dividing by halting the production of genetic material early in the reproduction cycle. It also acts as an antioxidant that helps the body reduce harmful inflammation.
Bax comes into play here, too: The combination of selenium and spirulina extract hastens apoptosis of cancer cells when they activate Bax protein.
Isoflavone and tumor cells
The isoflavone (genistein) in the LSU cocktail is a natural chemical in soy that has been shown to slow down a variety of cancers. Now, as I’ve said previously,3 some of the research into how isoflavone affects your cancer risk yields mixed results. As a phyto-estrogen (an estrogen from plants) it may act like a weak form of estrogen in the body, and research on lab animals shows that isoflavone may make their tumors grow larger. But that result has never been proven in humans.
And while studies in Asia show that women who consume more isoflavones in soy get less cancer, that effect has not been demonstrated in Americans.
Nevertheless, a study at the National Cancer Center in Tokyo, Japan, shows that for men, isoflavone can lower the risk of what’s called “localized” or early-stage prostate cancer – prostate cancer that has not yet spread to other parts of the body.4
In addition, other Japanese research shows that isoflavone protects against non-small-cell lung cancer5 which represents up to 90 percent of lung cancers. Plus, the LSU researchers note that studies like one at the Aichi Cancer Center Research Institute (also in Japan) indicate that isoflavone protects against breast cancer tumors that are spurred along by estrogen.6
According to the LSU scientists, isoflavone causes the tumor cells in breast, prostate and pancreatic cancer to be more likely to undergo apoptosis and also inactivates NF-кB, proteins that cancer cells need to multiply and spread.
From the Lab to Real Life
The LSU research is lab research – it doesn’t prove that their mixture of anti-cancer natural chemicals can produce the powerful effects in people that it produces in lab animals and in test tubes.
But from what I can see, eating foods or taking supplements that contain all of these substances has no downside (except maybe if you overdo isoflavone, as I’ve already cautioned).
The Louisiana researchers have shown that these natural chemicals in combination are impressively more powerful than any single one individually. That shows the benefits of supporting your health holistically – doing a range of activities that support the body’s homeostasis.
The levels of the chemicals they used in their tests are what they call “bioavailable” levels, the amount that could reach cells in the body if you swallowed a supplement containing these substances or ate foods that contain them.
As far as I know, their formula is not commercially available yet, but it’s easy for you to obtain all six ingredients individually.
So to get some of the benefits of these cancer-fighters, all you have to be able to do is open your mouth, chew and swallow. It doesn’t get much easier than that.