A Daily Multivitamin Supplement May Help Stave Off Colon Cancer
Are you starting to think your vitamin and mineral supplements might be money down the drain? Think again. In a recent study, rats subjected to a high-fat, low-fiber diet that were regularly given multivitamin and mineral supplements benefited from their anticancer and antioxidant properties by inhibiting the formation of precancerous lesions and tumors, lowering risks for colorectal cancer by 84% in spite of their exposure to carcinogens in the form of oxidized lipids.
The authors of the study noticed increased antioxidant enzyme activity after the administration of multivitamins over a 32-week period. Antioxidant enzymes such as superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase, glutathione peroxidase, and glutathione reductase are powerful free radical scavengers that the body can produce in sufficient amounts under the right conditions.
Free radicals are the natural end-products of cellular metabolism. Free radicals, technically known as reactive oxygen species or ROS, have been positively and consistently linked to cancer, accelerated aging, compromised immunity, and endocrine dysfunction.
Exogenous toxins such as carcinogens can significantly add up to the oxidative damage caused by free radicals. Carcinogens linked to colon cancer include heterocyclic amine, a food-borne mutagen that is formed when meat is cooked at high temperatures. Other known carcinogens include industrial dyes and chemicals, heavy metals, and radiation.
Antioxidant enzymes protects cells from ROS by arresting and reversing DNA damage caused by oxidative stress. Vitamins and minerals working in concert appear to activate antioxidant enzymes that block carcinogenesis. Cancer patients have been tested to have low levels of antioxidant enzymes.
The minerals zinc, iron, manganese, and selenium work as antioxidant enzyme co-factors. Co-factors are needed by antioxidant enzymes to efficiently carry out their biological functions. Deficiencies in such co-factors impair key antioxidant enzyme functions, which include halting and inhibiting the initiation and development of cancer.
The Johns Hopkins Colon Cancer Center recommends daily intake of multivitamins and omega 3 fats as cancer-preventive measures. Some studies suggest that vitamin D may inhibit the proliferation of colorectal cancer cells. Larger doses of vitamin C are known to induce the death of bowel cancer cells. Higher intake of vitamin B6 has been associated with lower risks for colon cancer. Optimal folate or folic acid levels have an inverse association to colon cancer. Vitamin E has been shown to protect people below 65 years of age from colorectal cancer.
It appears that supplements do carry anticancer benefits. They still can’t take the place of a healthy diet, but such studies to a large extent allay the circulating skepticism regarding the effectiveness of multivitamin and mineral supplements.