Vitamins Fight Cancer: E, A, D and B6
Vitamins Fight Cancer
There are FOUR separate articles on this page. Scroll down, past each article’s references, for the one(s) you want to read.
1) Vitamin E Prevents Lung Cancer
2) Vitamin A: Cancer Cure or Cancer Cause?
Vitamin D Stops Cancer; Cuts Risk In Half
Orthomolecular Medicine News Service
VITAMIN E PREVENTS LUNG CANCER
News Media Virtually Silent on Positive Vitamin Research
Researchers at the University of Texas Anderson Cancer Center have found that taking more vitamin E substantially reduces lung cancer. Their new study shows that people consuming the highest amounts of vitamin E had the greatest benefit. When they compared persons taking the most vitamin E with those taking the least, there was a 61% reduction in lung cancer risk. (1)
Lung cancer is the most prevalent form of cancer on earth;
over 1.3 million people are diagnosed with it each year. With medical
treatment, survival rates are “consistently poor,” says Cancer
A sixty-one percent reduction in lung cancer with vitamin E? How could the news media have missed this one?
The news media probably did not miss it: they simply did not report it. They are biased. You can see for yourself what bias there is. Try a “Google” search for any of the major newspapers or broadcast media, using the name of the news organization along with the phrase “vitamin E lung cancer.” When you do, you will find that it will quickly bring up previous items alleging that vitamin E might (somehow) increase cancer risk. You will find little or nothing at all on how vitamin E prevents cancer. Indeed, the bias is so strong that even a qualified search for “increased vitamin E reduces lung cancer” will still, and preferentially, bring up media coverage alleging that vitamin E is harmful. Negative reporting sells newspapers and pulls in viewing audiences. The old editors' adage must still be true: “If it bleeds, it leads.”
Here’s more positive vitamin E cancer research that the media “missed.” A study in 2002 looked at patients with colon cancer "who received a daily dose of 750 mg of vitamin E during a period of 2 weeks. Short-term supplementation with high doses of dietary vitamin E leads to increased CD4:CD8 ratios and to enhanced capacity by their T cells to produce the T helper 1 cytokines interleukin 2 and IFN-gamma. In 10 of 12 patients, an increase of 10% or more (average, 22%) in the number of T cells producing interleukin 2 was seen after 2 weeks of vitamin E supplementation." The authors concluded that "dietary vitamin E may be used to improve the immune functions in patients with advanced cancer." That improvement was achieved in a mere two weeks merits special attention. (3)
Was it on the news? Did you hear about how high doses of vitamin E help cancer patients’ immune systems in only two weeks? Why not? Might the answer possibly have anything to do with money? One cannot watch television or read a magazine or newspaper without it being obvious that drug company cash is one of the media’s very largest sources of revenue. Given where their advertising income comes from, it is hardly a big surprise that media reporting on vitamins is biased. Well-publicized vitamin scares feed the pharmaceutical industry. Successful reports of safe, inexpensive vitamin therapy do not.
One commentator has observed that pharmaceutical and other “corporations marshal huge public relations efforts on
behalf of their agendas. In the
Drug companies don’t have any drug that can reduce lung cancer risk by 61%. If they did, you would have heard all about it in their advertisements. And it would be all over the news. Positive drug studies get the headlines. Positive vitamin studies rarely do. This is an enormous public health problem with enormous consequences. A cynic might say that press and television coverage of a vitamin study tends to be inversely proportionate to the study’s clinical usefulness. Truly valuable research does not scare people; it helps people get well. It would be difficult to identify anything more helpful than actively reporting the story when a vitamin is shown to reduce lung cancer by 61%.
The good news about how important high quantities of vitamin E are in combating cancer is not arising out of nowhere. A US National Library of Medicine MEDLINE search will bring up over 3,000 studies on the subject, some dating back to 1946. By the early 1950s, research clearly supported the use of vitamin E against cancer. (6) Before 1960, vitamin E was shown to reduce the side effects of radiation cancer treatment. (7) In reviewing vitamin E research, one notes that the high-dose studies got the best results.
Vitamin E is not the sure cure for cancer. It is not certain prevention, either. Stopping cigarette smoking is essential. But vitamin E is part of the solution, and we need more of it. An independent panel of physicians and researchers (8) has recently called for increasing the daily recommended intake for vitamin E to 200 IU. The present US RDA/DRI is a mere 15-20 IU/day.
It is time to raise it. A lot.
1. Mahabir S, Schendel K, Dong YQ, Barrera SL, Spitz MR, Forman MR. Dietary alpha-, beta-, gamma- and delta-tocopherols in lung cancer risk. Int J Cancer. 2008 Sep 1;123(5):1173-80.
3. Malmberg KJ, Lenkei R, Petersson M et al. A short-term dietary supplementation of high doses of vitamin E increases T helper 1 cytokine production in patients with advanced colorectal cancer. Clin Cancer Res. 2002 Jun; 8(6):1772-8.
4. Robbins R. Global problems and the culture of capitalism. Allyn and Bacon, 1999, p 138. http://www.globalissues.org/article/160/media-and-advertising
5. Prestage J. Mainstream journalism: Shredding the First Amendment. Online Journal, November 7, 2002. http://www.globalissues.org/article/160/media-and-advertising
7. Fischer W. [The protective effect of tocopherol against toxic phenomena connected with the roentgen irradiation of mammary carcinoma.] Munch Med Wochenschr. 1959 Sep 4;101:1487-8. German. Also: Sabatini C, Balli L, Tagliavini R. [Effects of vitamin E and testosterone in comparisons of skin exposed to high doses of roentgen rays administered by semi-contact technic.] Riforma Med. 1955 Apr 30;69(18):Suppl, 1-4. Italian. See also: Graham JB, Graham RM. Enhanced effectiveness of radiotherapy in cancer of the uterine cervix. Surg Forum. 1953;(38th Congress):332-8.
8. Doctors say, Raise the RDAs now. Orthomolecular Medicine News Service, October 30, 2007. http://orthomolecular.org/resources/omns/v03n10.shtml
For more information:
Many full-text nutrition and vitamin therapy research papers are posted for free access at http://orthomolecular.org/library/jom .
Orthomolecular Medicine News Service, August 20, 2008
VITAMIN A : Cancer Cure or Cancer Cause?
Media Tells a One-Sided Story
(OMNS, August 20, 2008) Vitamin A "pushes," "promotes," and even "incites" cancer growth, say the headlines! Is this yet another instance of vitamin bashing, or are you supplement-takers killing yourselves? Let's take a look.
A few researchers are claiming that vitamin A, in a test-tube experiment, will "push" stem cells to change into cells that can build blood vessels. This, they say, may increase cancer. So when "structures similar to blood vessels developed within the tumor masses grown in culture," they concluded that vitamin A promotes carcinogenesis. (1) That is a bit of a leap. An in vitro (test-tube) project is far from clinical proof. Even the study authors admit "vitamin A is known to be necessary for embryonic development precisely because it helps to 'differentiate' stem cells, pushing them to become required tissue."
There is an anti-cancer drug that specifically acts by blocking the breakdown of retinoic acid, derived from vitamin A. This approach has been found to be "surprisingly effective in treating animal models of human prostate cancer. . . Daily injections of the agent VN/14-1 resulted in up to a 50 percent decrease in tumor volume in mice implanted with human prostate cancer cells. . . No further tumor growth was seen during the five-week study." (2) It seems that when cancerous tumors have more vitamin A available, they shrink. And there is a good reason tumors shrink. "Keeping more retinoic acid available within cancer cells. . . redirects these cells back into their normal growth patterns, which includes programmed cell death. . . This potent agent causes cancer cells to differentiate, forcing them to turn back to a non-cancerous state." So vitamin A seems to induce positive, healthy, cell changes. Indeed, this is why vitamin A derivatives are already in wide use to fight skin cancer. Vitamin A fights cancer. It does not "push," "promote," or "incite" it.
Sensational warnings and outright misstatements that natural vitamin A may "incite" cancer actually serve to incite newspaper readers and television viewers. Upon closer examination, a "vitamin promotes cancer" study often has the appearance of being conducted to prove an intended point. As the authors fuel fears about vitamin A, they also give away their goal, in their own words stating that "these findings open a new door to drug development." New marketing avenues for the development of patentable vitamin A-like drugs are a commercial opportunity that the pharmaceutical industry has not overlooked.
A vitamin A derivative "could protect against lung cancer development in former smokers," says another report. (3) Significantly, the vitamin A derivative is used "combined with alpha-tocopherol (vitamin E), in order to reduce toxicity known to be associated with 13-cis-RA (the vitamin A derivative) therapy." This illustrates why orthomolecular (nutritional) physicians do not use high doses of vitamin A by itself, but rather give it in context with other important, synergistic nutrients. A baseball team entirely made up of pitchers might get a lot of strikeouts while in the field, but not hit many home runs when at bat. All nutrients are needed in a living body. Vitamin A is an essential part of the team.
Here is an example: "A study published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry found that administering both vitamin A and vitamin C to cultured human breast cancer cells was more than three times as effective than the administration of either compound alone (since) the combination of the two vitamins inhibited proliferation by 75.7 percent compared to untreated cells. . . The ability of retinoic acid (vitamin A) to inhibit tumor cell proliferation is well known, although its mechanism has not been defined. The authors suggest that the synergistic effect observed in this study is due to ascorbic acid's ability to slow the degradation of retinoic acid, thereby increasing vitamin A's cell proliferation inhibitory effects." (4) Vitamin C helps vitamin A do its work even better, a clear team advantage.
Doctors' experience and clinical evidence both show that vitamin A helps prevent cancer. This has been known for a long time. "The association of vitamin A and cancer was initially reported in 1926 when rats, fed a vitamin A-deficient diet, developed gastric carcinomas. . . The first investigation showing a relationship between vitamin A and human cancer was performed in 1941 by Abelsetal who found low plasma vitamin A levels in patients with gastrointestinal cancer." (5) Moon et al reported daily supplemental doses of 25,000 IU of vitamin A prevented squamous cell carcinoma. And, de Klerk and colleagues reported "findings of significantly lower rates of mesothelioma among subjects assigned to retinol. . . Studies that use animal models have shown that retinoids (including vitamin A) can act in the promotion-progression phase of carcinogenesis and block the development of invasive carcinoma at several epithelial sites, including the head and neck and lung." (5) The Linus Pauling Institute adds, "Studies in cell culture and animal models have documented the capacity for natural and synthetic retinoids to reduce carcinogenesis significantly in skin, breast, liver, colon, prostate, and other sites." (6).
National data from the American Association of Poison Control Centers repeatedly fails to show even one death from vitamin A per year. (7) Vitamin A is very safe. However, pregnancy is a special case where prolonged intake of too much preformed oil-form vitamin A might be harmful to the fetus, even at relatively low levels (under 20,000 IU/day). Interestingly enough, you can get over 100,000 IU of vitamin A from eating only seven ounces of beef liver. Have you ever yet seen a pregnancy overdose warning on a supermarket package of liver?
A lack of vitamin A, especially during pregnancy, and in infancy, poses far greater risks. Deficiency of vitamin A in developing babies is known to cause birth defects, poor tooth enamel, a weakened immune system, and literally hundreds of thousands of cases of blindness per year worldwide. This is why developing countries safely give megadoses of vitamin A to newborns to prevent infant deaths and disease. (8)
There will always be people bent on believing that vitamins must be harmful, somehow. For them, it only remains to set up some test-tubes to try to prove it. Such has been done with other vitamins, perhaps most notably a famous if silly experiment that claimed that vitamin C promoted cancer. The study, reported in New Scientist, 22 September 2001, was a prime example of sketchy science carelessly reported. The article would have readers uncritically extend the questionable findings of a highly artificial, electrical-current-vibrated quartz crystal test tube study, and conclude that 2,000 milligrams of vitamin C can (somehow) do some sort of mischief to human DNA in real life. If two thousand milligrams of vitamin C were harmful, the entire animal kingdom would be dead. Our nearest primate relatives all eat well in excess of 2,000 mg of vitamin C each day. And, pound for pound, most animals actually manufacture from 2,000 to 10,000 mg of vitamin C daily, right inside their bodies. If such generous quantities of vitamin C were harmful, evolution would have had millions of years to select against it. Same with vitamin A. If it "promoted" cancer, every animal eating it would get cancer.
They don't, of course. And, if we consume enough vitamin A, perhaps neither do we. The NIH says, "Dietary intake studies suggest an association between diets rich in beta-carotene and vitamin A and a lower risk of many types of cancer. A higher intake of green and yellow vegetables or other food sources of beta carotene and/or vitamin A may decrease the risk of lung cancer." (9) A study of over 82,000 people showed that high intakes of vitamin A reduce the risk of stomach cancer by one-half. (10) Dr. Jennifer Brett comments that "Vitamin A fights cancer by inhibiting the production of DNA in cancerous cells. It slows down tumor growth in established cancers and may keep leukemia cells from dividing." (11) A derivative of the vitamin has been shown to kill CEM-C7 human T lymphoblastoid leukemia cells and P1798-C7 murine T lymphoma cells. (12)
Vitamin A is very far from being a cancer "promoter." Rather, it is very near to the cancer solution.
(1) Vitamin A Pushes Breast Cancer to Form
Blood Vessel Cells. ScienceDaily, July 17, 2008. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/07/080715204719.htm
For further information: Read full text, peer-reviewed nutritional research papers, free of charge: http://www.orthomolecular.org/library/jom
Orthomolecular Medicine News Service, October 2, 2008
Vitamin D Stops Cancer; Cuts Risk In Half
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