(NaturalNews) According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), liver cancer is often fatal. In fact, about 21,000 Americans were diagnosed with liver cancer last year and over 18,000 deaths were attributed to the disease. The Mayo Clinic web site points out that not only is primary liver cancer rarely discovered at an early stage, but it also doesn't respond to current treatments. However, a new study offers hope that a viable therapy could be on the horizon. For the first time, scientists have found evidence that a natural substance may be able to prevent, slow or even reverse the occurrence of liver cancer.
L-carnitine, a naturally occurring amino acid, is synthesized in the liver and kidneys and is also derived from dietary sources, including avocados, tempeh, dairy products and red meat. A team of researchers at King Saud University in Saudi Arabia investigated the role of L-carnitine in the development of liver malignancies and, in their study just published in the World Journal of Gastroenterology, these scientists concluded that a deficiency of L-carnitine is a risk factor for liver cancer. What's more, they found long-term L-carnitine supplementation may prevent the development of liver cancer.
The research team, headed by Professor Sayed-Ahmed of King Saud University's College of Pharmacy, used an animal model of liver cancer to study how cancer develops when there is a lack of L-carnitine. They also studied what happened to liver cancers when the animals received supplementation with the amino acid. When the laboratory rats had their L-carnitine levels depleted, there was a progressive increase in the activities of liver enzymes along with massive degenerative changes in the liver and evidence of pre-malignant lesions in liver tissues. However, supplementation with L-carnitine resulted in a 100 percent reversal of the increase in liver enzymes compared to normal values and the pre-cancerous liver lesions went away, too.
This is not the first research to show L-carnitine may protect the liver. Noting that liver cancer is usually preceded by chronic inflammation, Japanese scientists published research in the International Journal of Cancer (vol. 113, 2005) showing that L-carnitine effectively protects livers from the production of free radicals caused by inflammation. Earlier research published in the journal Diabetes Care by scientists at Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit, Michigan, also found that L-carnitine supplements helped with pain, nerve regeneration, and vibratory perception in patients with chronic diabetic neuropathy (nerve pain).
Sherry Baker is a widely published writer whose work has appeared in Newsweek, Health, the Atlanta Journal and Constitution, Yoga Journal, Optometry, Atlanta, Arthritis Today, Natural Healing Newsletter, OMNI, UCLA's "Healthy Years" newsletter, Mount Sinai School of Medicine's "Focus on Health Aging" newsletter, the Cleveland Clinic's "Men's Health Advisor" newsletter and many others.
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