Phytates for the Treatment of Cancer

Phytates for the Treatment of Cancer
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Do the anticancer effects of phytates in a petri dish translate out into clinical studies on cancer prevention and treatment?

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Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

So, if the phytates in beans are so successful in preventing cancer, and re-educating cancer cells, let’s put them to the test.

“Colorectal cancer…is the second leading cause of cancer death in the United States,” and it “arises from [what are called] neoplastic adenomatous polyps”—meaning colon cancer starts out as a benign little bump, called a polyp, that then grows into cancer that can eventually spread to other organs, and kill us. So, the National Cancer Institute funded the “Polyp Prevention Trial…to determine the effects of a high-fiber high-fruit and -vegetable, low-fat diet.”

They found “no significant associations” between polyp formation and “overall change in fruit and vegetable consumption.” However, those with the greatest increase in bean intake only had about a third of the odds of advanced polyps popping up. Yes, it could have been the fiber in the beans, but there’s lots of fiber in fruits and vegetables, too. So, maybe it was the phytate.

If the tumors do grow, though, they still need to spread. “Tumor growth, invasion, and metastasis are multistep processes” that includes not just cell proliferation, but invasion through the surrounding tissue, and “migration through basement membranes” to reach the bloodstream before the tumor can establish “new proliferating colonies” of cancer cells. The first step is to tunnel through the surrounding matrix, considered “a critical event in tumor cell invasion.”

To do this, the cancer cells use a set of enzymes called “matrix metalloproteinases,” which is where phytates may come in. We know phytates inhibit cancer cell migration in vitro, and now, perhaps, we know why. They help block the ability of cancer cells to produce the tumor invasion enzyme in the first place, in both human colon cancer cells, and human breast cancer. Thus, phytates could be used not only in the early promotion state of cancer, but also in all stages of cancer progression.

So, what happens if you give phytates to breast cancer patients? Although few case studies in which phytates were given in combination with chemotherapy clearly showed encouraging data, organized, controlled, randomized clinical studies were never organized, until now. Fourteen women with invasive breast cancer divided into two randomized groups. One group got extra phytates; the other got placebo. At the end of six months, the phytate group had a better quality of life, significantly more functional, fewer symptoms from the chemo, not getting the drop in immune cells and platelets one normally experiences.

And what are the potential side effects of phytates? Less heart disease, less diabetes, fewer kidney stones. “Because cancer development is [such] an extended process [it can take decades to grow], we need “cancer preventive agents” that we can take long-term, and phytates, naturally occurring in beans, grains, nuts, and seeds fit the bill.

“Although in the past…concerns have been expressed regarding intake of foods high in [phytates reducing] the bioavailability of dietary minerals, recent studies demonstrate that this [so-called] ‘anti-nutrient’ effect…can be manifested only when large quantities of [phytates] are consumed in combination with a [nutrient-poor] diet.”

For example, there used to be a concern that phytate consumption might lead to calcium deficiency. But, in fact, researchers discovered the opposite to be true—phytates protecting against osteoporosis. In essence, phytate has many characteristics of a vitamin, contrary to the established, and, unfortunately, still-existing dogma among nutritionists about its “anti-nutrient” role.

“Given the numerous health benefits, its participation in important intracellular biochemical pathways, normal physiological presence in our cells,” and tissues, and blood, and “the levels of which fluctuate with intake, epidemiologic[al] correlates of phytate deficiency with disease and reversal of those conditions [with] adequate intake, and safety – all strongly suggest for [phytate’s] inclusion as an essential nutrient,…perhaps a vitamin. Meanwhile, inclusion of [phytates] in our strategies for prevention and therapy of various ailments, cancer in particular is warranted.”

Now, they’re talking about trying out supplements. But, of course, eating a healthy diet rich in phytates would always be a prudent thing to do.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to Helen TaylorTipsTimes and megapixel13 via flickr

Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

So, if the phytates in beans are so successful in preventing cancer, and re-educating cancer cells, let’s put them to the test.

“Colorectal cancer…is the second leading cause of cancer death in the United States,” and it “arises from [what are called] neoplastic adenomatous polyps”—meaning colon cancer starts out as a benign little bump, called a polyp, that then grows into cancer that can eventually spread to other organs, and kill us. So, the National Cancer Institute funded the “Polyp Prevention Trial…to determine the effects of a high-fiber high-fruit and -vegetable, low-fat diet.”

They found “no significant associations” between polyp formation and “overall change in fruit and vegetable consumption.” However, those with the greatest increase in bean intake only had about a third of the odds of advanced polyps popping up. Yes, it could have been the fiber in the beans, but there’s lots of fiber in fruits and vegetables, too. So, maybe it was the phytate.

If the tumors do grow, though, they still need to spread. “Tumor growth, invasion, and metastasis are multistep processes” that includes not just cell proliferation, but invasion through the surrounding tissue, and “migration through basement membranes” to reach the bloodstream before the tumor can establish “new proliferating colonies” of cancer cells. The first step is to tunnel through the surrounding matrix, considered “a critical event in tumor cell invasion.”

To do this, the cancer cells use a set of enzymes called “matrix metalloproteinases,” which is where phytates may come in. We know phytates inhibit cancer cell migration in vitro, and now, perhaps, we know why. They help block the ability of cancer cells to produce the tumor invasion enzyme in the first place, in both human colon cancer cells, and human breast cancer. Thus, phytates could be used not only in the early promotion state of cancer, but also in all stages of cancer progression.

So, what happens if you give phytates to breast cancer patients? Although few case studies in which phytates were given in combination with chemotherapy clearly showed encouraging data, organized, controlled, randomized clinical studies were never organized, until now. Fourteen women with invasive breast cancer divided into two randomized groups. One group got extra phytates; the other got placebo. At the end of six months, the phytate group had a better quality of life, significantly more functional, fewer symptoms from the chemo, not getting the drop in immune cells and platelets one normally experiences.

And what are the potential side effects of phytates? Less heart disease, less diabetes, fewer kidney stones. “Because cancer development is [such] an extended process [it can take decades to grow], we need “cancer preventive agents” that we can take long-term, and phytates, naturally occurring in beans, grains, nuts, and seeds fit the bill.

“Although in the past…concerns have been expressed regarding intake of foods high in [phytates reducing] the bioavailability of dietary minerals, recent studies demonstrate that this [so-called] ‘anti-nutrient’ effect…can be manifested only when large quantities of [phytates] are consumed in combination with a [nutrient-poor] diet.”

For example, there used to be a concern that phytate consumption might lead to calcium deficiency. But, in fact, researchers discovered the opposite to be true—phytates protecting against osteoporosis. In essence, phytate has many characteristics of a vitamin, contrary to the established, and, unfortunately, still-existing dogma among nutritionists about its “anti-nutrient” role.

“Given the numerous health benefits, its participation in important intracellular biochemical pathways, normal physiological presence in our cells,” and tissues, and blood, and “the levels of which fluctuate with intake, epidemiologic[al] correlates of phytate deficiency with disease and reversal of those conditions [with] adequate intake, and safety – all strongly suggest for [phytate’s] inclusion as an essential nutrient,…perhaps a vitamin. Meanwhile, inclusion of [phytates] in our strategies for prevention and therapy of various ailments, cancer in particular is warranted.”

Now, they’re talking about trying out supplements. But, of course, eating a healthy diet rich in phytates would always be a prudent thing to do.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to Helen TaylorTipsTimes and megapixel13 via flickr

Nota del Doctor

I talked about the role of fiber versus phytate in colon cancer in Phytates for the Prevention of Cancer, the first in this three-part video series. See also Phytates for Rehabilitating Cancer Cells.

I covered the potential bone-protecting properties of phytates in Phytates for the Prevention of Osteoporosis.

More on preventing tumor invasion and metastasis in:

Other foods that can help stop the progression of precancerous lesions (like the adenomatous polyps) are profiled in Strawberries vs. Esophageal Cancer and Black Raspberries vs. Oral Cancer.

There’s a substance in mushrooms that’s also another “essential” nutrient candidate. See Ergothioneine: A New Vitamin?

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

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