Life Extension Update
Vitamin E protects male smokers
The American Association for Cancer Research's fifth annual Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research meeting, held November 12-15, 2006 in Boston, was the site of a presentation by Frederica P. Perera, DrPH, of Columbia University School of Public Health on the finding that vitamin E may protect male smokers from the DNA damage that leads to cancer.
Dr Perera, in collaboration with researchers from the New York University School of Medicine, measured plasma vitamin E levels and white blood cell 8-hydroxy-2'-deoxyguanosine, a marker of oxidative DNA damage, in 280 men and women who smoked at least ten cigarettes per day. They discovered that higher plasma levels of vitamin E were associated with lower levels of oxidative DNA damage in men, but not among women. The protective effect appeared to be greatest among men with a beneficial variant of the gene GSTM1, which produces enzymes that detoxify carcinogens in tobacco smoke.
Dr Perera, who is a Professor in the Division of Environmental Health Sciences at the Columbia University School of Public Health commented, "There was a dose-response relationship, in that the more vitamin E we found in the blood of the men, the less there was of this cancer-related biomarker. This suggests that while working toward the goal of quitting smoking, which is the very best way to prevent development of smoking-related cancers, it could be helpful to eat a diet rich in vitamin E.”
"We all want to know if vitamins help protect us against disease, and measuring their effects in the blood using markers of cellular damage is the most direct way to do that," Dr Perera added. "But we have a lot of work ahead before we can fully understand the role of antioxidants in the chemoprevention of tobacco-related cancer."
Cells operate under the direction of genes located in the DNA. Our existence is dependent on the precise genetic regulation of all cellular events. Healthy young cells have nearly perfect genes. Aging and environmental factors cause genes to mutate, resulting in cellular metabolic disorder. Gene mutations can turn healthy cells into malignant cells. As gene mutations accumulate, the risk of cancer sharply increases.
Human studies show that about 70% of gene mutations are environmental and, thus, relatively controllable based on what we eat, whether we smoke, or exposure to genotoxins or radiation (Ljungquist et al. 1995; Herskind et al. 1996; Finch et al. 1997). Antioxidant supplements have become popular because they reduce gene damage inflicted by free radicals.
The Life Extension Foundation introduced its members to the antimutagenic effects of chlorophyllin in 1989. Life Extension based its recommendation to supplement with chlorophyllin on a study in the journal Mutation Research, showing that this plant extract was more effective than all other known anticancer vitamins at that time (Ong et al. 1989).
The great majority of studies about chlorophyllin's health benefits concern its antimutagenic and anticarcinogenic properties. Unlike other antioxidants, which merely quench free radicals, chlorophyllin traps heterocyclic hydrocarbon carcinogens by reacting with their backbone, making it impossible for them to form adducts with DNA (Dashwood et al. 1996; Hernaez et al. 1997).
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