Supplements that Fight Cancer!
Nutritional supplements can be a great way to correct deficiencies and promote overall wellness. In addition to their effect on general health, supplements may also help prevent or even treat cancer. Modern medical research is proving that many nutrients, plant compounds, and extracts may contain important anti-cancer properties that reduce the risk of developing cancer. They may even help those diagnosed with cancer fight it more effectively.
If you are living with mesothelioma or any other cancer, certain supplements may help you feel better, alleviate symptoms, and promote your treatment. However, there are potential risks to nutritional supplementation. Never use a new supplement, including vitamins, without first discussing it with your medical team or oncologist.
Vitamin A is an essential vitamin available through fortified foods or with beta carotene supplements. The body uses beta carotene to make vitamin A. In some studies, beta carotene supplements have proven to provide protection against prostate cancer for some men. Beta carotene may also provide protection against lung cancer, especially for smokers or other people with an elevated risk. Beta carotene is safer to take than vitamin A, because it is possible to overdose on the vitamin.
Sun exposure is the typical way to ensure your get enough vitamin D. Sunlight interacts with compounds in the skin to produce vitamin D. Because many people avoid the sun or wear sunscreen to protect against skin cancer, using supplements or fortified foods is important for getting adequate amounts of this essential nutrient. Vitamin D is important for slowing cell growth, and there is evidence that this nutrient can prevent cancer or lower the risk of developing it. Researchers have also found that people with cancer have less vitamin D in their blood and more likely to be deficient.
Green Tea and EGCG
Green tea contains potent antioxidants and polyphenols, including one compound most often studied with relation to cancer, EGCG. Studies in laboratories have found that EGCG interferes with cell growth and division and may promote the death of cancer cells. EGCG may also slow the growth of blood vessels around tumors, slowing the growth of the tumor itself. EGCG can be consumed by drinking green tea or by using supplements.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Found naturally in fatty fish, flax seeds, chia seeds, walnuts, and some other foods, omega-3 fatty acids are essential nutrients. You can easily add this important nutrient to your diet through supplements like fish oil. Most often cited for promoting heart health, these fats may also protect against cancer, although study results are mixed. Omega-3 fatty acids are proven to reduce inflammation and to protect the skin from damage by ultraviolet radiation. These properties may make the fats a useful preventative supplement against cancer. Studies have confirmed that they can reduce the risk of developing breast cancer.
Curcumin is a compound found naturally in the root that makes the spice turmeric. Turmeric is commonly used in many Asian cuisines and as a natural yellow food coloring. Curcumin is a potent antioxidant and also has anti inflammatory properties. In lab studies, curcumin slowed the spread of melanoma cells. There is some concern, however, that curcumin can interfere with the effectiveness of chemotherapy.
Found naturally in the skins of red grapes, resveratrol is a polyphenol and antioxidant that may protect against cancer. As an antioxidant,reservatrol can help prevent cell damage that may trigger tumors. In lab tests, reservatrol slowed the growth of existing cancer cells. Resveratrol is also a weak estrogen-like compound, so anyone who should avoid estrogen should avoid resveratrol supplements.
The antioxidant selenium is a micronutrient or trace element, meaning only small amounts are necessary in a healthy diet. Seafood and Brazil nuts have some of the highest levels of selenium, though supplements are also available. In studies, selenium supplementation reduced the risk of developing prostate, colorectal, and lung cancers. In addition, there is evidence that selenium may reduce overall cancer risk.
The body naturally produces melatonin, a natural hormone involved in sleep. Melatonin is often used to treat insomnia and jet lag but may also be useful in preventing or treating cancer and treatment side effects. There is some evidence that melatonin protects against cancer, but not enough for doctors to recommend it as a supplement for that purpose. However, for cancer patients, melatonin supplements may increase survival time and reduce the side effects of chemotherapy.
Traditional Chinese medicine has long used maitake mushrooms to treat high blood pressure, diabetes, and other issues. More recently, these mushrooms have been studied for potential anti-cancer properties. Lab and human studies show that maitake mushroom extract can stimulate the immune system, which may help the body fight back against cancer. Animal studies have proven that it can slow tumor growth.
Supplements to Manage Side Effects and Symptoms
Most cancer patients experience uncomfortable treatment side effects and cancer symptoms. Certain supplements may help manage them. For example, ginger is a natural antidote to nausea caused by chemotherapy. The amino acid glutamine may relieve diarrhea and nerve pain. Probiotic supplements can also relieve gastrointestinal supplements.
Risks of Using Supplements
It is always important to talk to your doctors before trying any new supplement. There may be reasons why now is not the best time to use a particular supplement. For example, there are some nutrients and supplements that could interfere with cancer treatments like chemotherapy. These supplements include vitamins A, C, and E and co-enzyme Q10. Some supplements may also interact with your prescription medications.
Another potential risk is that cancer patients will turn to supplements purported to kill cancer cells or shrink tumors as an alternative to traditional treatments. Medical experts do not recommend this approach. Supplements should only be used to complement treatment, never as an alternative.
Nutritional supplements have an important place in wellness and medicine, including cancer prevention and treatment. As researchers uncover important ways hese compounds and extracts can help fight cancer, patients living with mesothelioma have a new source of hope. If you are considering using nutritional supplements, be sure to talk to your oncologist first. While these supplements have the potential to heal, they can also harm.
Page Edited by Dave Foster
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