4 supplements to help fight cancer
A healthy diet and lifestyle are critical for reducing cancer risk, and safe, science-backed supplements can enhance your protection. Here’s what the research shows.
CURCUMIN, extracted from turmeric root (Curcuma longa), is a powerful antioxidant and antiinflammatory, impacting several processes in the development and spread of cancer. Studies show curcumin can suppress the initiation, progression and metastasis — the spread of cancer cells to different areas of the body — in breast, lung, gastric, colorectal, prostate and a variety of other cancers. Turmeric powder itself contains very low levels of curcumin (on average, about 3%), so concentrated curcumin extracts are best. It’s important to choose the right form; curcumin is poorly absorbed by the body and rapidly metabolized and excreted, so look for a high-potency curcumin extract with added turmeric oil and piperine (black pepper extract) to enhance absorption and maximize its effects. OLIGOMERIC PROANTHOCYANIDINS (OPCs) are polyphenolic antioxidants naturally found in a variety of plants; supplements are usually made from grape seed extract and pine bark extract, super-concentrated sources of OPCs. These potent compounds affect several key processes in the initiation and development of cancer, and studies show they can inhibit cancer cell proliferation, induce apoptosis (cancer cell death) and suppress tumor growth in colorectal, prostate and other cancers. OPCs also help overcome chemoresistance — the ability of cancer cells to evade or adapt to chemotherapy drugs. They’re poorly absorbed, so look for a standardized formula designed for enhanced bioavailability. And because studies suggest OPCs are more effective when combined with curcumin, choose a formula that includes both, or take your OPCs with a highquality curcumin extract. BOSWELLIA, from the Boswellia serrata tree native to India, contains a variety of active acids; one of these, called AKBA (acetyl-11-ketobeta-boswellic acid), is especially powerful in inhibiting inflammation. Boswellic acids impact several key mediators in the development and spread of cancer, and studies show their efficacy in the prevention and treatment of breast, prostate, cervical, colorectal, lung, pancreatic and other cancers. It’s poorly absorbed, so look for products with added piperine to enhance absorption. Choose a formula standardized for at least 70% boswellic acids, including 10% AKBA. VITAMIN D, crucial for immune function, may also slow or prevent many types of cancers. A number of studies link a higher intake of vitamin D with a reduced incidence of colorectal cancer, and other studies show an association between low blood levels of vitamin D and an increased risk of breast, prostate, gastric and other cancers. Research also suggests vitamin D may decrease cancer cell growth, promote apoptosis, suppress tumor formation and reduce angiogenesis, the formation of new blood vessels that feed tumors. The majority of our vitamin D comes from the sun; if you live in a climate with low levels of sunlight, wear sunscreen daily or follow a meat-free diet, you may be at a higher risk for deficiency. Look for high-potency vitamin D3.