Alternative Cancer Remedies
the same results.” Here is additional information on vitamins, as they relate to the cancer problem:
A surprising quantity of data is available on a pos- sible link between vitamin A and cancer.
There is also the possibility that vitamin A com- pounds “somehow stimulate the immune system to be more effective in countering malignancy.” For some rea- son, certain white blood cells (those leukocytes which have passed through and been treated by the thymus gland) have an increased ability to recognize cancer- ous cells as a “foreign body,” and seek to destroy them.
When certain carcinogens (cancer-causing agents) are added to cultures of prostate tissue from mice, their usual damage to the cells can be prevented by adding vitamin A at the same time. In addition, the vitamin can even reverse the damage when it is added to the culture after the carcinogen has begun its destruction. The same has been done with cancers of epithelial tis- sue (skin, lining of the mouth, internal passages, and hollow organs). Both human and mouse cancer can be made to regress under vitamin A treatment.
Scientists have been studying into this vitamin A/ cancer relationship for years. For example, Thomas H. Maugh II, Ph.D., in an article in Science (December 27, 1974), entitled “Vitamin A: Potential Protection from Carcinogens,” reviewed a number of these experimen- tal findings.
In addition, cells may be protected after exposure to a carcinogen by the action of vitamin A. Dr. Maugh discusses this, and the discovery was documented at a workshop sponsored by the National Cancer Institute and Hoffmann-La Roche, Inc. In his article, Dr. Maugh goes as far as to suggest that it might be possible for the vitamins to “mediate a return to normalcy” of the person having cancer, in spite of the fact that the can- cer has damaged the system somewhat.
In all of this, keep in mind that large, excessive doses of vitamin A can be toxic. All oil-soluble vita- mins (A, D, K, etc.) should only be taken in rather small amounts. Yet it appears vital that they be taken into the body!
Dr. Maugh suggests that orthodox cancer therapy deals only with destroying malignant cells after they have been formed, but that vitamin A may help ward off cancer—even before it is known to exist in the body.
This waiting period (before cancer is discovered to exist in the body, known as preneoplasia, is a lengthy one—often 20 years or more in the case of human cells. It is known that, during this waiting period, some cells are damaged. But it is also known that some of these damaged cells revert to good health again. Maugh sug- gests that vitamin A intake may be part of the cause of that reversal. As he puts it: “Vitamin A can produce regressions in squamous cell and basal cell carcino- mas [certain epithelial tumors] in mice and humans.”
It has been suggested that vitamin A inhibits the chemical conversion of some harmful substances, en- tering the body, to an active carcinogen. Maugh specu- lated that vitamin A may weaken the attachment of a carcinogen to the cell’s genetic material—the nucleic acid, DNA, which contains the genes. Since genetic dis- turbance is believed to be involved in the cell’s loss of control over proliferation, such a weakening would help the cell revert to health. He noted that “various car- cinogens bind much more tightly to DNA” in cultures derived from animals made deficient in vitamin A.
A number of drugs have an anti-tumor effect be- cause they stimulate this immune response. Vitamin A has been shown to increase the anti-tumor action of such drugs 100-fold, according to Dr. Maugh.
Thus turns our attention to the thymus gland, and we learn that vitamin A may boost the immune reac- tion against tumors by protecting the integrity and size of the thymus itself. It appears, in some way, to strengthen that gland. In experimental animals, this small gland (located in the chest) shrinks in size as tumors develop (after a tumor-virus is injected), ac- cording to Dr. Martin Zisblatt and colleagues (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, August 1973).
When those animals are subsequently given large doses of vitamin A, the tumors diminish in size and the thymus reverts toward normal size. Zisblatt, et. al., commented: “Vitamin A appears not to be working directly as a selectively anti-tumor compound, but, rather, it appears to affect the process of rejection of the tumor.”
Thus, it may appear that a strong immune reac- tion to reject tumor cells depends on a healthy thy- mus, and that, in turn, depends on adequate intake of vitamin A.
At a scientific meeting, held in Denver, Colorado, in June 1983, Frank L. Meyskens, Jr., M.D., associate professor of medicine at the University of Arizona in Tucson, reported on his investigations.
“In one of those investigations, Dr. Meyskens gave 13-cis retinoic acid [a derivative of vitamin A] to 105 patients with various advanced cancers. At the time, none of the people were getting any other anti-cancer therapy.
“He soon discovered that some cancer types didn’t respond to the nutrient but that the epithelial variet- ies—those involving the cellular coverings of tissues— did. In fact, 25 percent of patients with one kind of epithelial cancer actually showed signs of tumor shrink- age. And in advanced cancers of any variety, that’s a pretty good record.”—Prevention, October 1983, 78.
Beta-carotene (also called pro-vitamin A) is found only in green and yellow vegetables; whereas vitamin A is found only in meat and dairy products. When foods containing carotene are eaten, the carotene is changed by the liver into vitamin A. Oddly enough, it is safer to eat foods with carotene than foods with vitamin A. This is because too much vitamin A can have a toxic effect on the body. You can never get too much carotene. The liver is in charge of changing as much carotene as the body needs into vitamin A, if you are getting enough carotene in your diet.
What is one of the richest natural sources of beta- carotene? Fresh carrot juice.
We await further research into this important field.