(NaturalNews) Smoking cigarettes and reading Natural News are two very incompatible notions. But Natural News readers are people after all, and thus not totally perfect. Besides, even the most fastidious raw foodist probably knows or even loves someone who occasionally takes a puff. For them, research on a substance that appears to reverse the health harming effects of smoking may have the ring of good news. Inositol, a compound found in many foods, seems to stop the threat of lung cancer from cigarettes dead in its tracks.
Inositol is a naturally occurring nutrient found in various forms, the most common of which is myo-inositol. Inositol is considered part of the B complex group of vitamins, even though it is not officially recognized as a vitamin and no RDA has been set. Like the B vitamins it is water soluble, and as a result is not stored very well in the body. It needs to be continually replaced from the diet, even though approximately 4 grams a day are produced from glucose in the kidneys.
Inositol is found in a variety of foods such as nuts, seeds, oats, rice, beans, corn, chickpeas, liver, pork, veal, whole grains, cantaloupe, most citrus fruits, lecithin granules, and wheat germ. It is available as a supplement in capsule or powdered form. Jarrow Formulas makes a powdered form that is readily available from online health retailers. There are others. Inositol powder has a delicious sweet, creamy taste and is a fabulous addition to smoothies.
Two famous researchers discovered inositol prevents cancer
Dr. Lee Wattenberg, known as the Father of Chemoprevention, searched for several decades starting in the 1970`s to find naturally occurring compounds that could theoretically prevent cancer and then applied scientific methodologies to research his discoveries. After testing several molecules, he found inositol to have great potential. Using various study models he was able to demonstrate that inositol could prevent lung cancer. It had previously been documented that a poor diet increased the chances for cancer to occur, but Dr. Wattenberg was among the first to show that a common nutrient could actually prevent cancer, a truly empowering discovery.
A few years after Dr. Wattenberg, Dr. Abdul Kalam Shamsuddin, known as the Father of IP6 (inositol hexaphosphate), also showed that inositol was able to prevent cancer, demonstrating the preventive value of the compound with colon cancer. Research by Dr. Shamsuddin revealed that inositol affects health in several ways, largely because it is in all human cells and is a major component of cell linings or membranes where it facilitates communication between the various organelles and molecules in a process known as cell signaling.
Why don`t cigarette companies hand out a bottle of inositol with each carton of cigarettes?
Some bright young executive at one of the major tobacco companies may have had the idea to boost sales by telling everybody that inositol, an inexpensive supplement, prevented lung cancer. But for the cigarette companies to buy into the idea would mean an acknowledgement that cigarettes cause cancer. Such an acknowledgement would create immense legal liability for any company making and selling cigarettes.
Inositol provides many other benefits in to the body
Inositol is a critical nutrient for hair growth. It helps prevent hardening of the arteries and is important in the formation of lecithin and the metabolism of fat and cholesterol. It helps remove fats from the liver. Inositol has a calming effect on the brain and has been used successfully at high doses as a treatment for psychiatric disorders such as depression, bipolar, obsessive-compulsive, and panic. Inositol is also used for insomnia, retinopathy, and bulimia nervosa and binge eating. It is beneficial for diabetic neuropathy, brain seizures, and for normalizing cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
Symptoms of deficiency are arteriosclerosis, constipation, hair loss, high blood cholesterol, irritability, mood swings, and skin eruptions. The consumption of large amounts of caffeine usually results in inositol deficiency. As coffee consumption was often accompanied by cigarette smoking, this shortage of inositol may have been a critical factor in the cases of smoking induced lung cancer so prevalent during the time when smoking was in style.
Research continues to refine knowledge of the mechanisms by which inositol works
Being a natural compound, there is little incentive for drug companies to research inositol. Natural compounds are not patentable. However, some dedicated researchers are continuing to study the effects of inositol, trying to determine the specific mechanisms by which it prevents lung cancer in cigarette smokers. Here are summaries of the abstracts from the most recent research. It is truly amazing, or maybe criminal is a better word, that the smoking public has not been made aware of these results which date back steadily to the time of Drs. Watterberg and Shamsuddin.
The phosphatidyl-inositol-3-kinase-AKT pathway is emerging as an important regulator of tumor cell survival. Substances that inhibit this pathway have enormous potential in cancer treatment. In Biochemical Pharmacology, December, 2008, researchers report myo-inositol potentiating appropriate cell death. This effect correlated with down-regulation of various gene products that mediate cell survival, proliferation, metastasis, and invasion, all known to be regulated by NF-kappaB. The inositol compound blocked NF-kappaB activation induced by cigarette smoke.
Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention, August 2006, reported a clinical study conducted to assess the safety, tolerability, maximum tolerated dose, and potential chemopreventive effects of myo-inositol in smokers with bronchial abnormal cell development. Smokers between the ages of 40 and 74 participated in dose escalation ranging from 12 to 30 grams per day of myo-inositol for a month to determine the maximum dose tolerated, which turned out to be 18 grams per day. Ten new subjects were then enrolled to take the maximum tolerated dose for 3 months. Side effects, when present, were mild and mainly gastrointestinal in nature. A significant rate of reduction in abnormal cells was observed (91% compared to 48% in the controls). A significant reduction in the systolic and diastolic blood pressure by an average of 10mm Hg was observed after taking 18 grams per day of inositol for a month or more.
Researchers reported that cigarette smoking is a major risk factor for cardiovascular diseases. Nicotine has been shown to alter gene expression. In a study reported in Physiological Genomics, April, 2001, researchers sought to identify distinct pathways through which alteration of genes took place. They ascertained the expression of over 4,000 genes in human coronary artery endothelial cells and identified a number of nicotine-modulated genes encoding a protein involved in signal transduction or transcriptional regulation. Among these were genes regulating the inositol phospholipids pathway.
The journal Experimental Lung Research, December, 2000, reports mice undergoing whole body exposure for 6 hours a day, 5 days a week, for 5 months to a mixture of cigarette sidestream and mainstream smoke, then kept for another 4 months in a controlled air environment before being scored for lung tumors. In 7 independent experiments, the amount of lung tumors was significantly increased in each experiment, and lung tumor incidence was increased in 5 of the experiments. Several compounds were evaluated for their ability against these tumors, but none of them reduced lung tumor incidence or multiplicity. However, the dietary mixture of myo-inositol and dexamethasone (a synthetic steroid hormone that acts as an anti-inflammatory and immune system suppressant) was effective at reducing lung tumor incidence and multiplicity compared to the controls. This effect was also seen when the animals were fed the myo-inolitol-dexamethasone mixture once they were removed from smoke. The researchers concluded that people who have recently quit smoking might benefit from this compound.
Researchers acknowledged that chronic exposure of mice and rats to cigarette smoke affects T-cell responsiveness which may account for the decreased T-cell proliferative and T-dependent antibody responses in humans and animals exposed to cigarette smoke. In a study reported in the Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, April, 2000, researchers sought to discover the mechanism by which cigarette smoke affects T cell function. They found that spleen cells from animals with chronic nicotine exposure have depleted inositol stores and a decreased ability to raise intracellular calcium levels. Their results suggest that chronic smoking causes T cell energy reduction and inactivity by impairing pathways and depleting stored inositol resulting in a diminished level of inositol-sensitive calcium.
Mice were fed a diet supplemented with myo-inositol and exposed for 5 months to a mixture of sidestream and mainstream cigarette smoke, in a study reported in Carcinogenesis, July, 1999. In the animals fed the control diet alone, the average number of manifest lung tumors was 2.1. In the animals given the control diet plus an inositol mixture, the number of manifest lung tumors was 1.0. Researchers concluded that the mixture constitutes an effective prevention regimen against the initiation of tobacco induced lung tumors.
In a study reported in the Journal Immunology, April, 1996, both T and B lymphocytes from animals chronically treated with nicotine exhibited decreased ability to mobilize intracellular calcium and inability to complete the cell cycle. Nicotine treated cells significantly lost their ability to up-regulate inositol synthesis. This response continued for at least 2 weeks after nicotine treatment was discontinued. The researchers concluded that chronic in vivo exposure to nicotine leads to T cell energy loss and inactivity and may contribute to nicotine/cigarette smoke-induced suppression of the immune system.
Source for information about inositol in addition to the studies:
Dr. Kim Vanderlinden and 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.