GLUTATHIONE(GSH) AND CANCER

Hundreds of medical articles have been written describing the role of glutathione in cancer prevention and cancer treatment. “They fall into three main groups: 1) prevention, including detoxification of carcinogens, antioxidation and heightened immune response; 2) therapeutic possibilities, such as anti-tumor methodologies and the treatment and prevention of malnutrition and wasting, and 3) a special role for glutathione in chemotherapy and radiotherapy whereby it enhances the effectiveness of these arduous treatments while minimizing their side-effects…”

The content of this article is from the book “The Comprehensive Guide to Glutathione”
by Dr. Jimmy Gutman MD FACEP

CANCER PREVENTION

A 1996 article in the European Journal of Cancer suggested that free radicals be listed as an important class of carcinogens. Because of its great capacity as the cell’s major antioxidant, glutathione can soak up oxyradicals and other free radicals as they form in the cell. This prevents subsequent damage to various parts of the cell, particularly to the DNA in its nucleus. Glutathione has the additional benefit of enhancing the effect of other antioxidants such as vitamin C, vitamin E and selenium. This further strengthens the body’s ability to destroy free radicals. To top it off, glutathione also plays an important role in the synthesis and repair of DNA.

There is no doubt that a well-functioning glutathione enzyme system wards off cancer. This is clearly illustrated by a study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. It focused on people deficient in the enzyme glutathione-S tranferase-mu-l (GSTMI). GSTMI is an important antioxidant that also detoxifies common bladder cancer carcinogens such as tobacco smoke. Approximately one person in two inherits two defective copies of the GSTMI gene, impairing the function of this enzyme. It was found that 25% of all bladder cancers occurred in people missing this enzyme. Heavy smokers missing this gene were six times more likely to develop bladder cancer.

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Colon cancer patient

There is a link between the loss of glutathione activity and the development of prostate cancer. Another glutathione enzyme, glutathione-S-transferasepi-I (GSTPI) almost always disappears in both cancerous and pre-cancerous prostate lesions. It seems that prostate cancer begins with the inactivation of this glutathione enzyme. Many studies have made the connection between GSTPI loss and malignant transformation of prostatic tissues. Similar studies have linked glutathione. defective genes to breast and lung cancer as well, especially in smokers, several scientists have suggested that people should be screened for these genetic or enzymatic defects as a way to determine their risk level. Glutathione also plays a specific role in the detoxification of numerous well-known carcinogens and mutagens in our environment.

These cancer-causing substances are conjugated or neutralized by glutathione and rendered into a form the body can eliminate. The role of glutathione in detoxification simply cannot be overstated. Since the liver is the body’s principal detoxifying organ it is not surprising that it carries the highest concentrations of glutathione in the body.

The Chemoprevention Branch of the National Cancer Institute (USA) has for the last decade been developing drugs to diminish the incidence of this dreaded disease. Substances that raise glutathione levels, such as NAC and the selenium derivative selenomethionine are on their short list of useful therapies. One of the major successes of their research efforts is their statistical demonstration that selenium protects against prostate cancer. Other studies have identified selenium as protecting against colon, rectal and lung cancers as well as colonic polyps. R.B. Balansky, C.C. Conaway, H. Witschi, and other American and European researchers have successfully shown that NAC can slow the growth of cancers induced by toxins including urethane, nitrosamines, doxorubicin, ethylnitrosourea and other cancer-causing agents.

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