Your body loves this mineral.
It’s essential to create life and to feed and grow a baby. This mineral also fights diseases and performs over 300 other biological functions in the human body.
Too much or too little of this mineral, and all these processes suffer, putting you at risk of cancer, and possibly even an early death.
Let’s take a closer look at zinc and how you can use this mighty mineral to prevent and even fight cancer.
Research at Penn State shows how zinc impacts your health at all stages of life, from before birth all the way through old age.
For example, zinc plays a substantial role in a baby’s development in the womb. The nourishment from the placenta is directly related to the mother’s zinc levels. But even before you were in your mother’s womb, zinc was critical. It aids the sperm’s motility, allowing it to be a “strong swimmer” and thereby start the reproductive process. Without it, the sperm would be unable to “break into” the egg, and you would not have been conceived.
Once your lungs first breathed air, you were exposed to new diseases, and you needed zinc as a key component for your fragile immune system. Fortunately mother’s milk, assuming she wasn’t deficient, contained ample zinc for your needs — both your immune needs and growth and development needs.
Like the athletes who pass the Olympic torch
from Athens to London…
Specific proteins in your body pass zinc atoms from your digestive system to every cell and system in your body. Like the Olympians who pass the torch, these twenty-four special zinc transporters each has its own special purpose. Some move zinc into cells, some manage its intracellular functions, and some remove it from your cells.
To put it bluntly, zinc is necessary throughout life for proper cellular growth and repair, as well as maintaining immune function. If you’re deficient in it, you can suffer impaired immune function and have poor resistance to infection and disease. This can spell trouble for people who already have cancer, as well as for those who are trying to prevent it.
Why the body needs zinc to ward off cancer
Zinc deficiency is a general cancer risk factor. This is a well-established fact in cell, animal, and human models. Lack of zinc is associated with DNA damage and chromosome breaks. Your cellular level of zinc dramatically influences your cells’ ability to repair such DNA damage and recover.
In fact, zinc deficiency is associated with esophageal squamous cell carcinoma. What’s more, 65 percent of patients with head and neck cancers were found to be zinc deficient in one study.1
Penn State researchers report that the glands in women’s breasts have unique zinc requirements due to their need to transfer large amounts of zinc into milk during lactation. If you’re deficient in zinc while nursing, your baby can suffer. But the news gets worse. If you have a zinc deficiency or aren’t metabolizing it, it can result in breast cancer.
Zinc deficiency linked to breast cancer
Today, zinc shortfalls are implicated not just with the initiation of breast cancer, but also in its progression and metastasis. Zinc deficiencies are known to cause cellular dysfunction in the breast.2
In another study, Dr. David Watts reviewed trace mineral reports on the hair of thousands of women. He discovered that a pattern of high boron, copper and calcium levels — along with lower zinc — was associated with breast cancer. Boron and copper make you more sensitive to the dangers of high estrogen, and less responsive to progesterone. Zinc helps your body utilize progesterone.
In addition, p53 is the primary gene that protects you from breast cancer. It is believed to be the most frequently mutated or altered gene in cancer. The p53 gene requires zinc — which if missing, causes p53 to become inactivated or suppressed. Because it’s well known that p53 dysfunction promotes breast cancer, it’s very likely zinc deficiency is a risk factor in breast cancer regardless of boron, copper and calcium levels.
Zinc’s effects on prostate cancer
Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of male American cancer deaths. Despite the well-known role of nutrition in cancer development, conventional medicine still maintains that the cause of prostate cancer is unknown. Conventional doctors like to pretend theirs is the only “evidence-based” form of medicine. Well, maybe they should look at the evidence. . .
Several studies have implicated zinc deficiency in the development and progression of prostate cancer. There’s also evidence that increasing your dietary zinc leads to a decrease in prostate cancer. It’s possible that a zinc deficiency increases your risk for oxidative DNA damage to your prostate cells.
And cancerous prostates have far lower zinc levels than normal ones, suggesting men need to keep an eye on their zinc levels.
So, does zinc also play an important role in maintaining prostate health? Some (including me) say yes. The normal human prostate contains a higher level of zinc than any other soft tissue in your body.
It’s obviously there for a reason. Of course, not everyone agrees…
The raging controversy over zinc and
Though several studies showed that high cellular zinc levels inhibit prostate cancer development, one epidemiological study showed a higher risk for this cancer in men who took high-dose zinc supplements (over 100 mg/day) or long-term (more than 10 years).
The confusion stems from an old 2003 National Cancer Institute (NCI) study, which found that taking more than 100 mg a day was linked to a doubled risk of advanced prostate cancer.
It could be that 100 mg is too high a level, a toxic dose. But the finding could also be linked to the study’s design. I can tell you one problem right off: NO alternative health expert recommends a zinc dose that high. It’s widely understood that doses higher than 45 mg per day over the long term can be toxic. Most zinc supplements and prostate or potency formulas contain daily doses much lower than 40 mg.
The study’s design was poor and the analysis
that followed was even worse
Some critics say these scientists used statistical gymnastics to arrive at the calculation that taking 100 mg of zinc daily for ten years or more doubled the risk of prostate cancer.
Nevertheless, the mainstream media ran a huge anti-zinc campaign to try to convince men to stop taking extra zinc.
We should also note that this study was hijacked by a friend of Big Pharma who later became head of the FDA. His role at the agency was to grant highly profitable cancer drug approvals to his Pharma friends. This zinc study was performed on his watch.
Most people are aware that statistics can be massaged to show results to meet a particular agenda. This NCI study is itself a poorly-designed study. Even the researchers admitted their data could be skewed by men who chose to take higher levels of zinc after discovering their prostates were already in trouble.
This is a vital point: it’s likely many of these men already had prostate disease BEFORE they started taking zinc. A lot of people figure if a little bit of a supplement is good, a lot is better. If zinc didn’t help their pre-existing problems, maybe it just goes to show that a higher dose didn’t help a man who’s already ill.
This lack of control should never have been allowed, and makes the study too weak to prove anything.
Interestingly, the journal publishing it lists it as a “Brief Communication” — not a study. But the media portrayed it as a study.
Finally — as often happens with anti-vitamin studies — the researchers didn’t consider the quality of the zinc being consumed. Most consumers would take cheap zinc oxide. Oxides generate free radicals — not desirable in men who are already struggling with low antioxidant levels. The use of low-quality nutrients is common to most studies that claim to prove vitamins or minerals don’t work, or are harmful..
Can zinc help slow or reverse cancer
once it’s begun?
Potentially yes… because zinc plays a significant role in protecting DNA from damage. Besides, it’s a potent anti-inflammatory, and can promote apoptosis (programmed cell death).
Contrary to the weak 2003 study, a more recent study at the University of Washington evaluated zinc intake lasting more than ten years. They found a 66 percent reduction in advanced prostate cancer in men who took at least 15 mg of zinc per day. Of course, the media failed to run this story.
In related news, a study found zinc to be helpful at reducing enlarged prostate, officially called benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). The researchers found it was essential to help control initial prostate swelling which could eventually become cancerous. It’s no wonder zinc produced these healthy effects, considering everything it does in our bodies.
Are YOU deficient?
The World Health Organization cites zinc deficiency as the most common cause of childhood disease for children under age five, worldwide.
One-third of the world’s population suffers from some level of zinc deficiency. However, in some areas, a staggering 75 percent of the population is zinc deficient — with women and children being the worst victims.
If you experience slowed wound healing, poor appetite, mental fog, sagging skin, a decreased ability to taste and smell, or white spots on your nails, it could indicate a zinc deficiency.
Zinc’s working partner
Zinc usually acts in tandem with selenium, but I’m not going to digress about selenium.
Both zinc and selenium are vital minerals normally found in soil in only small amounts — and reportedly the levels these days are much lower than fifty or 100 years ago. In fact, two-thirds of the earth’s tillable soil is now either severely or completely lacking in selenium. And zinc isn’t faring much better.
Both are vital to the production of two powerful antioxidant and anti-aging enzymes — Superoxide Dismutase (SOD) and Glutathione peroxidase. Scientists believe the “anti-aging gene” makes SOD — and that aging is just the natural outcome of declining SOD and other antioxidant enzymes.
The “million dollar question”…
How much zinc do you need, then?
The problem with zinc is that individual needs can vary wildly. Men need more than women. Your levels can plummet when you’re under stress or you sweat a lot — so if you exercise outdoors during the heat of the summer, you’ll need more.
A typical amount is 15 mg to 40 mg per day. As I said before, the consensus is that amounts in this range are totally safe. But some women need up to 75 mg per day and some men need up to 100 mg per day. This can only be determined by a qualified doctor who knows nutritional medicine.
For best absorption, use high quality forms of zinc — zinc citrate, zinc picolinate, and zinc as methionine. Any other form must be converted to these before it can be assimilated.
Zinc can upset your stomach — it does mine — so take it with food. But I’m told most people don’t experience this side effect, and zinc can help revive a weak or poor appetite.
Want even better absorption or more zinc? Take it in food form:
- Brewer’s yeast
- Egg yolk
- Lima beans
- Meats, especially grass fed, organic red meats
- Pumpkin seeds
- Sunflower seeds
- Wheat germ
- Fennel seeds
- Milk thistle
- Nettle parsley
- Rose hips
- Wild yams
By all means eat some of these foods, but please don’t listen to the press and conventional doctors who claim you can get all the nutrients you need from your food. Most people’s diets are woefully deficient in zinc, selenium and other minerals so, nutritional supplements are advisable.
For example, zinc is an ingredient in many supplements designed to promote prostate health. It’s also found quite often in male potency boosters, and in supplements designed to increase testosterone levels.
Remember, cancer is primarily a disease of the immune system. The medical and scientific community has known for over 100 years that nearly ALL diseases are a result of poor nutrition at some level or another.
So, anyone wanting to avoid cancer needs to pay attention to the risk factors they can personally control — such as nutritional imbalances in your body that can lead to cancer — and your zinc levels are certainly one of them.
- http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20155630 , Wayne State University School of Medicine, Detroit, Michigan.