(NaturalNews) The anticancer effects of IP6 are turning out to be nothing short of astounding. Research is showing that besides reducing cell proliferation and increasing the differentiation of malignant cells, IP6 can often restore cancerous cells to normality.
What is IP6?
IP6, also known as inositol hexophosphate or phytic acid, is a sugar molecule with six phosphate groups attached. It is composed of inositol (one of the B vitamins) bound with six molecules of phosphorous. IP6 was first identified in 1855, but has only recently been researched as a preventative and cure for cancer as well as heart and liver diseases, kidney stones, Parkinson's disease, and more. It is also a powerful antioxidant, immune system enhancer, and booster of natural killer cells. Foods that are significant sources of IP6 include dried beans, whole grains, nuts, seeds, rice, wheat germ, corn and sesame.
Dr. Abulkalam Shamsuddin, a scientist at the University of Maryland School of medicine has been the pioneer researcher of IP6, beginning his work on the compound in the late 1980's. He discovered the ability of IP6 to control the rate of abnormal cell division even when administered long after cancer was induced. He then proved that IP6 normalized the sugar production of cancerous cells, thereby altering the gene expression toward a more healthful state. This proven ability to change cancer cell physiology had major implications, since cancer cells that are well behaved have far less negative impact on health.
Although IP6 has been proven to boost Natural Killer (NK) cell activity, for Shamsuddin the value of IP6 lies not in its ability to augment the immune system, but rather its ability to directly affect the physiology of cancerous cells. Whereas most cancer research has focused on killing or destroying cancer cells, Shamsuddin's research focused on taming or controlling the condition to the point where normality could be restored.
How IP6 works to Protect Against Cancer
Here are several ways IP6 is known to prevent and fight against cancer. IP6 is a very common intracellular messenger, meaning that it controls and influences many cellular activities:
Normalizes the Rate of Cell Growth – Cancer cells lose their control mechanisms and typically divide too rapidly, resulting in great numbers of cells that have a devastating impact on health. IP6 slows or normalizes the rate at which cancer cells divide. It reestablishes control in cells that by definition have lost their control mechanisms due to gene mutation.
Helps to normalize cell physiology – How a cancer cell expresses itself largely determines how threatening it is. Experiments have shown that IP6 normalizes several aspects of cell physiology in spite of the fact that these cells have altered DNA. In many instances, DNA repair is achieved.
Enhances NK cells – NK cells are white blood cells that help to protect against virally infected or cancerous cells. Researchers believe that the higher the NK activity, the lower the incidence of some cancers. The healthy human produces 500 to 1000 cancer cells daily. NK cells and programmed cell death (apoptosis) result in the vast majority of these cells being destroyed and removed. During time of stress, NK activity is compromised, and this is why there is a link between stress levels and cancer. IP6 is able to increase NK cells during these periods. Although many supplements claim to increase NK activity, for IP6 these claims have been documented and proven.
Increases tumor suppressor P53 gene activity - DNA contains tumor suppressor genes that inhibit pathways or processes that allow cells to become cancerous. The p53 gene acts as a control to preventing genetically damaged or cancerous cells from growing and propagating. If the p53 gene becomes damaged or compromised, cancers can establish themselves more readily. IP6 has been shown to greatly increase the amount of p53 gene activity, up to 17 times. When augmented by IP6, "standard of care" treatments become more effective due to this increase in p53 gene activity.
Inhibits inflammation – The level of systemic inflammation is an important indicator in determining cancer survival prognosis. Inflammation results in the release of cytokines, chemical messengers that trigger reactions that enable normal cells to grow and repair themselves. Cytokines can also cause cancer cells to grow. IP6 has been shown to significantly inhibit inflammation.
Exhibits potent antioxidant activity – Antioxidants are known to protect against various disease states and aging in general. Oxidative damage to DNA leaves cells susceptible to mutation that can result in cancerous cells being produced. IP6 has been shown to be a significantly more potent antioxidant than green tea.
Enhances apoptosis (programmed cell death) – Programmed cell death is orderly and results in the removal of individual cells without affecting the surrounding cells. It is a normal part of growth and the maintenance of healthy tissues. It removes unwanted cells so that inflammation or immunological reactions do not result. Cancerous cells are resistive to normal cell apoptosis. This is one mechanism of tumor formation. IP6 has been shown to enhance the natural apoptosis of cancer cells.
Affects angiogenesis – Angiogenesis is the process by which tumors set up their own blood supply, assuring the nutrients necessary to fuel their growth. Once this blood supply is set up, tumor growth spirals as more growth leads to more establishment of blood supply. IP6 inhibits this process, resulting in the starvation of cancer cells.
Inhibits metastasis – IP6 inhibits the adhesion of cancer cells to the extra-cellular matrix proteins, thereby leading to an inhibition of cell migration and invasion. Limiting adhesion is very important after surgeries and biopsies, as these procedures can cause cancer cells to become dislodged. One reason that so many breast cancer patients are found to have lymph nodes containing cancer cells is that mammography can dislodge cancer cells which then migrate to the lymph nodes.
Pharmaceutical research is geared to the development of drugs to treat cancer utilizing these mechanisms. Many of the substances being developed and tested are newly created molecules, having never before appeared in nature. As a result, severe side effects are common place. IP6 already exists in human cells and is easily recognized by the body, so side effects, if any, are rare.
Recent research findings document these mechanisms
The frequency and depth of research into IP6 is expanding at a rapid rate. Here are some of the most recent findings.
The Journal of Clinical Cancer Research, reports a study evaluation the in vivo cancer preventative efficacy of IP6 against prostate tumor growth and progression. Prostate cancer was induced in male mice that were then given either water containing IP6 or plain water. IP6 inhibited prostate cancer progression at the neoplasia state and strongly reduced the incidence of adenocarginoma. The incidence of well-differentiated and poorly differentiated adenocarcinomas in the IP6-fed group were reduced by 44% and 62% respectively. Analysis of the prostate tissue showed a 3.5-fold increase in apoptotic cells. The researchers concluded that these findings are highly significant in establishing for the first time that oral IP6, without toxicity, suppresses prostate tumor growth and progression at the neoplastic state, the state of abnormal or uncontrolled growth.
A study conducted in China and reported in Wei Sheng Yan Jiu explored the effect and mechanism of IP6 on cell proliferation in human gastric carcinoma. They found that IP6 inhibited malignant cell growth in a dose and time dependent manner. The proliferation of gastric carcinoma cells inhibited by IP6 was associated with apoptosis through altered gene expression.
The Brazilian journal, Acta Cirurgica Brasilerira reported a study to determine the modulation effect of IP6 in the biological immunohistochemistry expression of cellular signaling marker apoptosis in a model of induced colon cancer. They found that IP6 was effective in promoting modulation of biological markers in colon cancer.
Another study reported in Acta Cirurgica Brasilerira analyzed of the influence of IP6 on the transcription of genes coding for tumor necrosis factor-alpha and its receptors in a human colon cancer cell line. The results showed that IP6 modulated the expression of the listed genes at transcription level in a dose and time dependent manner.
The journal Neurochemistry Research reported a study of the impact of IP6 as a therapeutic agent on glioblastoma, the deadliest brain tumor in humans and the one currently being battled by Senator Kennedy. Researchers found that the viability of glioblastoma cells decreased following treatment with increasing doses of IP6. The treated cells showed morphological and biochemical features of apoptosis.
Laryngoscope reports a study that found IP6 effective at promoting nuclear factor-kappa B, an early response gene that is associated with head and neck squamous cell cancer. This increased gene expression resulted in reduced cell proliferation and increased cell death.
IP6 is more than a cancer treatment
In addition to the anti-cancer benefits of IP6, ongoing research is revealing its promise as a treatment for diabetes, depression, osteoporosis, heart disease, and kidney stones.
A very recent study reported in the Journal of Toxicology considered the effect of IP6 on Parkinson's Disease. Disrupted iron metabolism and excess iron accumulation has been reported in the brains of Parkinson's patients. Because excessive iron can induce oxidative stress and result in neuronal degradation in Parkinson patients, researchers sought to determine the protective effect of IP6, a natural chelator of iron. They found a 45% reduction in DNA fragmentation with the use of IP6, and protection in the differentiated cells. They concluded that IP6 offered a significant neuro-protective effect.
Supplementing with IP6
IP6 has been shown to be quite safe to use. It is naturally present in mammalian cells, and it is obtainable from food. However, in food, IP6 is bound to protein. Before it can be absorbed it must be freed from this protein. An enzyme called phytase that is present in both food and the intestinal tract performs this function. The problem is that the power of the phytase enzyme is damaging to the IP6 and renders much of it inactive and therefore less effective. Pure IP6 from a supplement is not protein-bound and is easily absorbed in tact, and able to provide its complete medicinal properties. Research has shown that when fiber from All Bran was added to the diet of rats with mammary cancer it was much less effective than the equivalent amount of IP6 added to their drinking water.
Many holistic healers and naturopaths recommend IP6 as both a preventative and treatment for cancer. It is becoming standard alternative treatment to recommend it for anyone with a high risk of cancer or who has had cancer and is looking to prevent a recurrence. Some traditional physicians are also becoming aware of the potential of this compound and although they are loath to abandon their traditional treatments, they are adding IP6 to their protocols.
IP6 is available in capsules or powered form. The capsules provide what is considered to be a maintenance or preventive dose of 2 capsules twice a day. The powered form allows for easy dosing at the therapeutic level which is one scoop mixed with water twice a day. IP6 should be taken on an empty stomach. IP6+Inositol from Cell Forte is the most economical and readily available brand. It is sold online at Vitacost.
"Complementary Therapies", University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.
Dr. Kim Vanderlinden, Dr. Ivana Vucenik, Too Good to be True?
About the author
Barbara is a school psychologist, a published author in the area of personal finance, a breast cancer survivor using "alternative" treatments, a born existentialist, and a student of nature and all things natural.