Food and Supplementation Benefits and Risks in Carcinogenesis -- Part 1

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Author: Paul Yanick
Date: Oct. 2001
Publisher: The Townsend Letter Group
Document Type: Article
Length: 4,276 words

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Whole food, grown on organic, nutrient-rich and chemical-free soil in a clean environment, provides the body with a synergistic array of thousands of known and unknown antioxidants, nutrients and powerful nutraceutical compounds. These exogenous antioxidants (carotenoids, flavonoids, vitamins, trace minerals, etc) help the body counteract oxidative stress. Assuming that these foods are pesticide-free and harvested at the right time, they provide the best avenue of full-spectrum protection against reactive oxygen, species (ROS) that initiate various growth factors, cytokines, and other chemical mediators that increase inflammation and a proliferative carcinogenic response. The unfortunate truth however is that foods of this quality are in short supply in the Standard American Diet (SAD). Today's foods are not only depleted of vital antioxidants, trace minerals, and phytochemicals but contain harmful levels of pesticides and other toxic chemicals. Studies have documented that antioxidant levels in foods have d ecreased by 50% over the past 25 years in the US. [1,2]

The progressive depletion of antioxidants in food has created an imbalanced prooxidative state that may increase one's risk of cancer. Indeed, studies have shown that diet accounts for 35 to 80% of cancers. [3-6] Recently, valuable controlled scientific data supporting cancer risk reduction with antioxidants has been presented by Block and Evans. [7] The danger is that antioxidant levels in the SAD are too low to protect the body from the increasing levels of chemical carcinogens in the environment. The result: instead of winning the war against cancer, statistics since 1970 show a dramatic rise in the incidence of cancer and other chronic degenerative diseases in the US.

Addressing Disturbed Mitochondrial Energetics and Carcinogenesis

The cytoplasm and its organelles, particularly the mitochondria, allow the cell to generate energy that it uses to synthesize structural and enzymatic molecules that give it the functional properties by which it contributes to the overall operation of the organism. [8-9] Energy formation depends on nutrient intake, electron flow and oxygen transport to the body tissue. Acidification of the extracellular matrix, due to increasing environmental pollution, strees, and dietary deficiencies of nutrients, leads to a reduction O2 transport to the tissues and high levels of oxidative stress. [11-12] Many cellular processes require O2 and the optimum blood-carrying capacity for O2 is closely correlated to an anabolic pH of around 7.4. However, sometimes oxygen and other small molecules become electron deficient. These oxygen radicals (also called radical oxygen species, ROS), can react with DNA to cause:

* A distortion in the shape of the DNA molecule, potentially causing mistranslations,

* Mutations when the DNA reproduces itself (replicates), an adducted base can be misread causing a mutation in the new strand.

* Mutations or deletions of genetic material from the bulky adducts which, in turn, cause breakages in the DNA strand. If these adducts are not repaired, they may induce extensive mutations that lead to carcinogenesis.

Chemical carcinogens can cause direct DNA damage because they are electron-deficient molecules after transformation by normal human metabolic enzymes causing them to react readily with electron-rich molecules such as protein...

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A78900861