10 Cancer Fighting Supplements Your Doctor May Not Tell You About
Nutrition plays an important role in every stage of the fight against cancer: resisting it, suppressing its development and reducing its spread. Many nutrients are involved, and most are available as supplements. Vitamins and minerals are certainly important, but so are all sorts of plant compounds, friendly bacteria and specialized fats, like omega-3 fatty acids.
If you’re serious about preventing cancer, here are some of the supplements you should consider taking:
This natural energy-producer and powerful antioxidant is proving to be an important cancer fighter. New research has found that CoQ10 is helpful for colon cancer, breast cancer and melanoma. Animals exposed to cancer-causing agents who are pretreated with CoQ10 are less likely to develop cancer because CoQ10 help to neutralize toxins.
During cancer treatment, CoQ10 not only preserves immune function, it seems to help cancer drugs work better. And after treatment, CoQ10 helps the immune system attack any remaining cancer cells, reducing the risk for new growth and spread. CoQ10 is used extensively in Japan as an adjuvant for cancer treatment. Its safety record is unparalleled at virtually any dose.
What to Take: We recommend 200 – 600 mg of CoQ10 a day.
These friendly bacteria can decrease fecal enzymes associated with formation of cancer-causing compounds in the intestines. They can bind to substances that cause genetic mutations to intestinal cells. They stimulate enzymes that inactivate cancer-causing substances. Probiotics can also help support and stimulate the immune system indirectly and directly throughout the body, which is why they’ve been linked to a reduced risk for cancers other than colon cancer, such as bladder cancer.
What to Take: We recommend a shelf-stable probiotic with 10 billion CFU (colony-forming units) count per dose.
Think of prebiotics as food and housing for probiotics. These are nutritional substances such as inulin, a soluble fiber, that help probiotics grow and colonize inside your intestines. In one study, volunteers were fed a mixture of probiotics and prebiotics, or placebo, for eight weeks. A wide range of indicators of colon cancer risk were measured. Those taking the probiotics with prebiotics had less DNA damage and a lower rate of cell proliferation in biopsies taken from their colons. They also had lower levels of cancer-causing mutagens in their feces.
What to Take: Look for a probiotic supplement that includes prebiotics in addition to beneficial bacteria.
4. Beta Glucan
These chains of sugar molecules have the ability to enhance your immune system and help it to attack cancer cells. Beta glucan is most often derived from the cell walls of baker’s yeast, or from mushrooms such a shiitake and maitake. In Japan, extracts containing various types of beta glucan have been used to successfully assist in treating cancer patients for the last 20 years.
Beta glucan seems to have the unique ability to stick to cancer cells and “tag” them to make it easier for the immune system to recognize the cancer cells as foreign invaders that need to be destroyed. Beta glucan does provide some immune system boost on its own, but it seems to work best when used along with other forms of cancer therapy, such as monoclonal antibodies or interferon.
What to Take: We recommend about 100 mg a day of Beta 1,3/1,6 D-glucan, a form proven effective at stimulating immunity.
This powerful anti-aging nutrient helps to preserve normal cell cycle regulation, which is an important function in dealing with DNA damage. If cell cycle regulation is defective, mutations in the cells’ DNA may result in cancer. Resveratrol has been found to induce cell cycle arrest for a time following DNA damage, in order to allow for DNA repair or activation of processes leading to cell death, should the damage be irreparable.
Resveratrol also helps to regulate enzymes. It “upregulates” certain enzymes that break down toxic substances in the body, so it promotes the excretion of these harmful chemicals.
What to Take: We recommend about 400 mg a day of standardized trans-resveratrol.
6. Vitamin D
New research suggests that having an optimal blood level of vitamin D could cut your cancer risk by as much as 60%! Vitamin D can help activate certain proteins that suppress tumor growth and development, and help prevent as many as 16 different types of cancer, including lung, pancreas, breast, colon, and prostate cancer. Vitamin D increases the self-destruction of mutated cells, reduces the spread and reproduction of cancer cells, and reduces the growth of new blood vessels from pre-existing ones, an important step in the growth and spread of cancerous tumors.
Research shows 40-70% of Americans have sub-optimal blood levels of vitamin D. The best way to figure out how much you need is to get a blood test, before and after you have started taking supplements.
What to Take: Some people need 2,000 – 5,000 IU of vitamin D3 a day, or even more, to stay at a good blood level of to 40 to 60 ng/mL (100 – 150 nmol/L).
7. Green Tea
An extract of the main active ingredient in green tea, EGCG, slows blood vessel formation in tumors, reducing the rate at which they can grow and spread. Like resveratrol, green tea extract can also regulate cell division and growth, and cause programmed cell death in DNA-damaged cells. Some of the cancers that green tea can face down include prostate, esophageal, bladder, cervical, pancreatic, ovarian, lymphoma and leukemia. Green tea is also active against human papilloma virus (HPV) a sexually transmitted virus associated with cervical and anal cancer and warts.
What to Take: We recommend about 450 mg a day of a standardized green tea extract.
8. Fish Oil
Greater intake of omega-3s has been associated with a reduced risk for cancer. By helping to stabilize the immune system, fish oil may have multiple anti-cancer effects, including regulating cell proliferation, inducing damaged cells to die, preventing blood vessel growth in tumors and helping to prevent the spread of cancer cells to other parts of the body.
What to Take: Dosages of 1,200 – 5,000 mg a day are recommended.
This component of turmeric has emerged as a leading cancer fighter. Curcumin can disrupt cancer cells in several stages of development. It, too, causes programmed cell death and inhibits new blood vessel growth into tumors. It seems to work best against colon cancer, and in some animal studies, was as good as certain chemotherapy drugs at inhibiting the growth of cancer cells.
What to Take: Dosages up to 8,000 mg a day for three months have been used with no toxicity.
10. Garlic Extract
Garlic can increase activity of toxin-neutralizing enzymes and decrease activity of toxin-activating enzymes in the intestines. Garlic also helps prevent cancer-causing DNA changes and promotes the death of damaged intestinal cells.
What to Take: As much as 7,200 mg a day of garlic extract has been taken for up to six months without side effects.
Our risk for almost every kind of cancer goes up as we age. Nutritional supplements that fight cancer at every stage can give you the edge you need to beat it. Do you take any of the supplements listed above? Are there any you’d add to the list? Please leave a comment below.
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Article updated on: December 28th, 2012