Thursday, 12 February 2009


By request, I'm writing about cancer. I didn't know this, but cancer is now the No.1 killer of men in the UK. I previously thought that coronary heart disease was the No.1 killer.

Cancer is such a huge subject that, rather than oversimplify it, I'll put a link to Wikipedia. Warning: Pictures of tumours.

Vitamins get a mention, particularly Vitamin D, but EFAs aren't mentioned. This is odd, as typing "Omega-3 Cancer" into PubMed yields 612 human studies going back to 1984. Here are some of them:-

Some effects of the essential fatty acids linoleic acid and alpha-linolenic acid and of their metabolites gamma-linolenic acid, arachidonic acid, eicosapentaenoic acid, docosahexaenoic acid, and of prostaglandins A1 and E1 on the proliferation of human osteogenic sarcoma cells in culture.

Selective killing of human cancer cells by polyunsaturated fatty acids.

Chronic arachidonic acid eicosanoid imbalance: a common feature in coronary artery disease, hypercholesterolemia, cancer and other important diseases. Significance of desaturase enzyme inhibition and of the arachidonic acid desaturase-independent pathway.

n-3 fatty acids and cancer.

Fish consumption and breast cancer risk: an ecological study.

Effect of docosahexaenoic acid on rate of differentiation of HL-60 human leukemia.

N-3 and N-6 fatty acids in breast adipose tissue and relative risk of breast cancer in a case-control study in Tours, France.

Opposing effects of dietary n-3 and n-6 fatty acids on mammary carcinogenesis: The Singapore Chinese Health Study.

Induction of apoptosis in human pancreatic cancer cells by docosahexaenoic acid.

Dietary intakes of omega-6 and omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and the risk of breast cancer.

Nutritional knowledge of primary health care physicians in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

13.12.09: Some newer studies:-

A systemic review of the roles of n-3 fatty acids in health and disease.

Anticancer actions of omega-3 fatty acids--current state and future perspectives.

The effect of omega-3 FAs on tumour angiogenesis and their therapeutic potential.

Therapeutic potential of n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in disease.

Fish oil enhances the antiproliferative effect of 1alpha,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 on liver cancer cells.

EDIT: I've been reading about a substance called methylglyoxal, a glycolysis inhibitor. As many types of malignant cancer cells rely on the glycolysis pathway for energy, methylglyoxal looks like a promising anti-cancer agent.

In vivo assessment of toxicity and pharmacokinetics of methylglyoxal. Augmentation of the curative effect of methylglyoxal on cancer-bearing mice by ascorbic acid and creatine,

A brief critical overview of the biological effects of methylglyoxal and further evaluation of a methylglyoxal-based anticancer formulation in treating cancer patients,

Selective inhibition of mitochondrial respiration and glycolysis in human leukaemic leucocytes by methylglyoxal and

Critical evaluation of toxic versus beneficial effects of methylglyoxal.

It looks like the Indians are ahead of everyone else on this stuff.
Well, well, well.

"Methylglyoxal is a regular chemical, not cleared for human use. It is made without conforming to sound manufacturing practices and widely respected codes of good laboratory practices followed throughout the world." O, RLY? See below.

"The IACS' main supplier of Methylglyoxal is an American warehouse corporation, Sigma Medical Company, which sells it for research purposes at $1 to 2 per gramme and specifically states that none of its chemicals is meant for medical use." If everyone stuck to the "rules", humankind would never make any progress.

The principal scientist involved is Professor Manju Ray, a biochemist, not a pharmacologist or cancer specialist."
Biochemists know how cells work, so I would say that's a plus point, not a minus point. It's also argumentum ad-hominem.

"The "secret" of the "miracle" lies in the anti-tumour effect of Methylglyoxal - a property shared by hundreds of toxic chemicals. Methylglyoxal, it is claimed, inhibits electron flows in cancerous cells and blocks a crucial step necessary for the production of ATP, the cellular energy "currency". Methylglyoxal isn't anywhere near as toxic as standard chemotherapy drugs. Someone needs to learn some basic biochemistry!

"A critical ingredient, a control group with which the treated patients are compared, is absent from the study." It's unethical to have one group denied a treatment that might save their lives. The Lyon Diet-Heart trial was discontinued because the control group had a much higher mortality than the treated group.

"The researchers treated 24 patients, mostly in highly advanced stages of cancer, with oral administration of Methylglyoxal, with Vitamin C, over eight to 10 weeks. They claim that after treatment, 11 were in "excellent physical condition" and five were in a condition that "can be considered stable". "The rest either opted out of treatment or died during the course of study." This is disturbing enough." You left out the creatine and 0 out of 24 would almost certainly have survived without treatment

"The study does not show how, through what process, the "cure" occurs." That's not the purpose of the study.

"What is equally astonishing is that the drug should be used in clinical trials on human beings in the first place. Such trials are permissible only after the pharmaco-kinetics (the way and the speed with which the body will handle the drug) is properly understood, and trials on experimental animals have been carried out. In this case, the first criterion was not fulfilled. And there is no mention of animal trials." An animal trial had been done. See the 1st study above.


Rosso said...

Hey Nige,

I didn't click on the wiki pics of the tumours for fear. I will of course be spending time studying your other links.

On the eBay Powersellers forum there was a thread on cancer sparked by what Jade Goody is going through at the moment. It was shocking to read just how many peoples lives have been blighted by this nasty disease. There were people replying who had basically lost most family members to it and were suffering from it themselves.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) says cancer will become the leading cause of death worldwide by 2010, surpassing heart disease.

Dr. Art Ayers said...

You might guess that I would bring inflammation into any discussion. It is important to note that inflammation is required for initiation and progression of cancer -- the inflammation transcription factor, NFkB is required for proliferation and blocking apoptosis. That is why high dose aspirin kills most cancer.
Nige, can you discuss gout? Why doesn't a high meat diet lead to gout? At the same time uric acid is the major serum antioxidant.
Thanks for all of the refs.

TedHutchinson said...

Stephan has some interesting stuff to say on gout.

TedHutchinson said...

Half hour lecture from Cedric Garland on Vitamin d and cancer prevention. Worth the time.

George Henderson said...

- Methylglyoxal is the active ingredient in Manuka honey
- methylglyoxal is formed naturally in the body by glycation, especially of ketone bodies; levels are highest on ketogenic diets. Which tend to inhibit cancers.

Nigel Kinbrum said...

Which is why certain parts of the body (e.g. liver) secrete glyoxalase, to eliminate this naturally-formed substance. Which is also why methylglyoxal is ineffective for hepatic cancers.

Vitamin K2, on the other hand...