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Unfortunately, so far, it's still in the lab — the territory of mice and test tubes. Mice and rats are not people, and sometimes what works for them doesn't work when tested on us.
However, the molecule called IP6 appears to be different. It's so vital to the process by which cells divide and multiply, it may be the key to a major part of the cancer puzzle.
The powerful "new" cancer fighter
you've probably never heard about
Most people have never heard of IP6, although it was identified in 1855 and is backed by over 25 years of research.
Throughout its known existence, IP6's popularity has been like a roller coaster. At one time, it was incriminated as an "anti-nutrient". However, pioneering experiments since 1985 by Professor AbulKalam M. Shamsuddin at the University of Maryland School of Medicine have shown that far from being an "anti-nutrient", IP6 is very safe and has awesome health benefits as an antioxidant for a number of diseases, including cancer.
IP6 is also known as inositol hexophosphate or phytic acid. It's basically a sugar molecule with six (hexo-) phosphate groups attached to it.
Till recently, it was not considered a treatment or preventive for cancer… or for heart and liver diseases, kidney stones, Parkinson's disease, or other conditions, for that matter. That's set to change.
Today many scientists believe IP6 is a powerful antioxidant, immune system builder, and booster of natural killer (NK) cells. Not only is it considered a broad-spectrum anti-cancer cocktail — it also helps prevent kidney stones, slashes diabetes complications, lowers cholesterol, and decreases risk of heart attack and stroke.
If it's almost everywhere,
why haven't you heard about it?
IP6 is a derivative of the B-vitamin inositol, which is ubiquitous in soil, plant seeds (rice, corn, soy, wheat, sesame) and in the cells of all mammals including humans.
Indeed, IP6 is hidden in the following seeds, listed in order, starting with those that have the most1:
In rice and wheat seed, IP6 lives in the particles that make up the bran layer. This is part of the reason for the push for high-fiber foods. But high-fiber doesn't necessarily work out in your favor…
No wonder fiber falls in and out of favor so often...
Because IP6 is concentrated in the bran in cereals, the normal milling and processing strips this bran and reduces the IP6 content of the seeds.
But that's not the only problem…
It's now known that food-based IP6 binds to protein, making it especially prone to destruction by intestinal enzymes. Because these enzymes break down protein-bound IP6, there's less available IP6 to strike against cancer and other diseases.
Pure IP6 — on the other hand — is much less prone to protein binding, making it more readily available to your cells.
Some proof for this can be found by comparing cancer rates in Denmark to those in Finland. The Danes consume almost twice as much fiber as the Finns… yet the Danes still get cancer twice as often.2
That discovery seems to indicate that the quality of fiber may be more critical than the quantity, or that there's a substantial difference in the way it's absorbed. Shamsuddin notes that the Finns eat a lot of porridge which is rich with IP6… whereas the fiber of the Danes does not contain IP6.
Scientists speculate that the IP6 and not the fiber itself may be responsible for squelching cancer cells — which could help explain the mixed results of studies about fiber over the years, and its roller coaster popularity. Some studies show fiber is a powerful boost to good health while others show little effect.
IP6 taken by mouth as an over-the-counter supplement is easy, cheap, and recognized as offering health benefits with no known toxicity — something that can't be said for conventional cancer treatments.
At best, conventional cancer doctors hope to either cut the cancer out (surgery), or kill it (radiation and chemotherapy). But IP6 has shown the ability to REVERSE cancer's growth.
If this gets past the lab and shows itself effective for human patients, it could prove to be a landmark in cancer prevention and treatment.
How IP6 works…
Cancer doesn't just pop up overnight. There's a complex interaction between the genes we inherit from our parents and environmental factors (like exposure to toxins, which could include chemicals, radiation, and viruses). As you know if you read this newsletter, the food you eat also plays a major role.
Here are the steps that take place before cancer can overwhelm your body's defenses.
There are two main phases — initiation and promotion.
In the case of chemical exposure, the chemical is the initiator. It causes changes in your cells that make them likely to become cancerous. That by itself isn't enough to produce cancer. The chemical will cause permanent damage to the DNA. But a promoter is required to make the altered cells cancerous.
The promoter could be another chemical, or radiation, or a virus. By itself the promoter can't cause you to get cancer either. Nor does it matter if you're exposed to the promoter right away. That's why cancers can take years to develop.
Why doesn't everyone with an initiator and a promoter get cancer?
Well, because it also depends on other factors — like the strength of your immune system, and how well your DNA repair mechanisms work.
You see, your body makes enzymes that can repair damaged DNA. The number of enzymes depends on the raw material you supply from your diet, and cofactors that help them to function properly.
IP6 appears to be one of those helpful factors.
Here's a quick look at a few of the 70 published studies regarding IP6 efficacy for cancer, and other conditions…
A quick look at the research…
IP6 inhibits the growth of breast cancer cells… and also acts synergistically with adriamycin or tamoxifen chemo drugs.
Patients with invasive ductal breast cancer who received chemotherapy either received Inositol powder of 6 g daily in 2 doses, or placebo, during their chemo. Those receiving IP6 plus Inositol did not have cytopenia, or a drop in leukocyte and platelet counts. Red blood cell counts and tumor markers were unaffected in both groups. But the IP6 group had a significantly better quality of life and functional status, and could go about their daily activities.3
Treatment of pancreatic cancer with IP6 in the food significantly decreased cellular growth and increased apoptosis (natural cell death, which is something you want in cancer cells). These findings suggest that IP6 has potential as an effective adjunct or "extra" for pancreatic cancer treatment. Human studies are needed to confirm these findings.4
In vitro (test tube) studies demonstrated that IP6 is effective against cancer in many human, mouse, and rat prostate cancer cells. Studies show that oral feeding of IP6 inhibits human prostate cancer growth in mice. Some studies show that IP6 targets mitogenic and survival signaling — and cell cycle progression — in prostate cancer cells. IP6 also targets molecular events related to angiogenesis (the process whereby tumors grow their own network of blood vessels — cancer treatment aims to prevent this). IP6 appears to target molecules in a number of different ways for effective defense against prostate cancer, making it a possible tool for preventing cancer.5
In a 2009 study, bladder cells treated with IP6 showed inhibited cell growth. IP6 is believed to potentially be a highly effective treatment for bladder cancer.6
Rhabdomyosarcoma (RD, the most common soft tissue sarcoma in children).
IP6 suppresses RD growth in vitro (test tube cultures), depending on the dosage. Removing IP6 after 72 hours of treatment allowed cells to recover their growth. When exposed to IP6, RD cells differentiated, became larger with abundant cytoplasm, and produced 25-fold smaller tumors, as observed after two weeks' treatment. In a later study, when the treatment period was extended to five weeks, mice had a 49-fold reduction in tumor size.7
Dietary phytate may help inhibit calcium salts from forming in your urine and therefore may reduce the risk of kidney stones. However, I did not find any human studies on this.
Alzheimer's, Multiple Sclerosis, and Parkinson's.
The US Patent Office has issued several patents on IP6 use for treatment of Alzheimer's disease, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson's Disease. Professor Grases in Spain proposed that a deficiency of IP6 could be a risk factor for Alzheimer's disease. Exactly one year later, in January 2011, the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease reported that IP6 may be a viable treatment option for Alzheimer's.
As a preventive — or as a serious cancer therapy — what's the best way to take IP6?
How to get the most value from IP6…
Interestingly, one of Shamsuddin's studies showed no statistical difference between rats fed 5% bran, 10% bran, and 20% bran, in terms of reducing tumor incidence.
But rats given 0.4% of IP6 in drinking water, equal to the same amount of IP6 in 20% bran (500-1,000 mg for a person), had a 33.5% reduction in tumor incidence and 48.8% less tumors per animal.8
In other words, only the pure form of IP6 reduced tumor incidence and number of tumors per animal.
So one conclusion seems evident — fiber probably isn't the most effective way to get this valuable nutrient. IP6 is most effective when taken without other substances (in this case, the 20% bran diet). That's why taking pure IP6 may make more sense than gorging on huge amounts of fiber.
Consuming enough IP6 as part of your healthy diet is difficult, since it is water soluble and you have to replenish it every day. This is a case where the supplement, rather than foods, looks like the way to go.
Based on Shamsuddin's studies, you should take IP6 supplements on an empty stomach for best absorption. One problem you avoid by taking them on an empty stomach is that it might bind to proteins and minerals during digestion and flush them from your body, resulting in deficiencies.
While IP6 by itself improves NK (natural killer) cell activity, taking it with Inositol appears to magnify the results. The combo boosts the activity of the NK white blood cells, which get their name from their ability to literally kill diseased cells, viruses and other infecting organisms.
All in all, this "new" pure cancer-fighter sourced from fiber could prove to be the definitive cancer medicine of the millennium.
Keep an eye out for human studies… but in the meantime, I don't see any harm in taking IP6 and Inositol. In fact, it could do a whole lot of good.
1 IP6: Nature's Revolutionary Cancer Fighter, AShamsuddin, AbulKalam M., MD, PhD, Kensington, 1998. p. 32.
2 IP6: Nature's Revolutionary Cancer Fighter, AShamsuddin, AbulKalam M., MD, PhD, Kensington, 1998.
3 J Exp Clin Cancer Res. 2010 Feb. Efficacy of IP6 + inositol in the treatment of breast cancer patients receiving chemotherapy: prospective, randomized, pilot clinical study. Bacic I, Druzijanic N, Karlo R, Skific I, Jagic S. Department of Surgery, General Hospital Zadar, 23000 Zadar, Croatia.
4 J Surg Res. 2005. Johnson VA Medical Center, Clarksburg, West Virginia, Department of Surgery, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV
5 Anticancer Res. 2005. Singh RP, Agarwal R. Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, School of Pharmacy, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Denver, CO 80262.
7 Anticancer Res. 1998. Novel anticancer function of inositol hexaphosphate IP6: inhibition of human rhabdomyosarcoma in vitro and in vivo.
8 IP6: Nature's Revolutionary Cancer Fighter, AShamsuddin, AbulKalam M., MD, PhD, Kensington, 1998. p. 41.
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