Category Archives: Cancer

Amino Acid Glycine Protects Muscles From Cancer Cachexia

Can the non-essential amino acid glycine become part of a treatment to improve quality of life for cancer patients? An animal study from Australia found some promising results.

Cachexia is a wasting syndrome, characterized by loss of weight, muscle atrophy, and loss of body mass which cannot be reversed by simply consuming more nutrition. This loss of body mass is often caused by cancer, often end-stage or advanced cancer. Cancer cachexia greatly affects quality of life, and can often hasten the patient towards their death. Cachexia is probably responsible for about 20 per cent of cancer deaths.

Cancer cachexia is caused by inflammation, the body’s complex response to harmful stimuli, such as cancer, as the body tries to destroy the cancer cells. Inflammation causes pain, and often swelling and loss of function. New treatments to reduce inflammation, which would also improve cancer therapies, are being researched globally.

D Ham, K Murphy, et al, researchers at the University of Melbourne in Australia, developed an animal trial to see if the amino acid glycine could become part of a safe, non-toxic treatment for cancer-induced muscle wastage.

Glycine is not an essential part of the human diet, as we synthetize it in our bodies from the amino acid serine. It is a neurotransmitter, but has other important effects too. It plays a role in detoxification, and could be an effective anti-inflammatory agent. It is glycine’s anti-inflammatory qualities that the researchers wanted to test.

Glycine protects muscle wastage – may be used for cachexia in cancer patients

Cachexia was induced in mice, which were then injected with glycine, alanine, or citrulline every day for 21 days. After this, selected muscles, tumors, and fat tissues were studied.

The glycine had impressive results. The mice given glycine had much less fat and muscle wastage, and less inflammation. Oxidative stress was also reduced.

The researchers concluded that glycine protected skeletal muscle from wastage and loss of function caused by cancer. They hope that in future, safe, non-toxic glycine treatments to protect against cancer cachexia will be developed.

Sources:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23835111

Arginine Slows Proliferation And Growth Of Lung Cancer Cells

Some promising news about the treatment of lung cancer was published in the American Journal of Cancer Research. The essential amino acid arginine is being developed into an effective anti-cancer agent. Synthesized arginine/albumin microspheres have been designed to combat lung cancer.

Lung cancer is one of the leading causes of cancer-related death. As with all cancers, early detection is the best hope for successful treatment. However, the early stages of lung cancer usually do not produce symptoms. As the cancer advances, symptoms develop, including coughing, wheezing, and coughing up bloody mucus.

Treatment can include surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. Recent clinical trials have focused on endobronchial intratumoral chemotherapy, which is the direct injection of the drug into the tumor.

Arginine, an essential amino acid, also known as L-arginine, is already proved to inhibit cancer cell proliferation in various cancers, including lung, breast, and gastric cancer cell lines when an appropriate dose is delivered. High concentrations of arginine incudes cancer cell death. Arginine also assembles into clusters to kill cancer cells.

Researchers (HY Lee, KA Mohammed, et al) from the University of Florida, USA, developed a study to investigate the delivery method of L-arginine in endobronchial intratumoral chemotherapy. They designed arginine/albumin microspheres to deliver high concentrations of arginine to the tumors.

Microspheres of synthesized arginine prevent lung cancer cells proliferating

The researchers tested arginine/albumin microspheres on A549, a human lung carcinoma cell line. And arginine/albumin mesospheres (AAMS) were synthesized which promotes arginine clusters. These AAMS consisted of 50% arginine and 50% bovine serum albumin. The minute microspheres were solidified in a centrifuge tube.

This in vitro study produced very positive results. The arginine significantly inhibited cell proliferation, cell migration, and tumor growth of the lung cancer cells. The synthesized AAMS were more effective than freely released arginine, indicating that AAMS could become an ideal delivery vehicle for lung cancer treatments.

Sources:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23841026

L-Carnitine To Become Cancer Cachexia Treatment?

A European animal study has found that L-carnitine supplementation could become part of treatment for cancer-related cachexia.

Cancer-related cachexia is a devastating wasting syndrome, where the sufferer experiences dramatic muscle loss and weight loss. This is caused by the body’s own immune system which is attempting to fight the cancer, but breaks down and destroys skeletal muscle and fat tissue.

It usually occurs in advanced cancer, and severely affects quality of life. Some patients with cancer cachexia become so frail they cannot even walk.

The National Cancer Institute estimates that about a third of all cancer deaths are caused by cancer cachexia. This is not only due to extreme frailty, but also because cachexia hinders treatment responses.

S Busquets, R Serpe, et al, part of the Cancer Research Group, Departament de Bioquímica i Biologia Molecular, Facultat de Biologia, Universitat de Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain, developed an animal trial to study the effects of L-carnitine on cancer-related cachexia.

L-carnitine is the biologically-active form of the amino acid carnitine. Carnitine is made in the body from two other amino acids: lysine and methionine. It plays a significant role in the metabolism of fatty acids. L-carnitine is a very popular health supplement.

L-carnitine and cancer cachexia animal study

The researchers gave L-carnitine to rats with an extremely cachectic rat tumor. The rats received 1 gram of L-carnitine per kilo of body weight. Food intake, muscle mass, and physical performance were analyzed.

Results were extremely promising. The L-carnitine supplements significantly improved the animal’s food intake. The rats’ muscle weight also improved. The rats’ physical performances improved, as measured by their total physical activity, how quickly they moved, and how far they travelled.

The L-carnitine also affected the cancer genes, possibly causing some apoptosis, or cell death.

The researchers concluded that supplementation with L-carnitine could become part of a successful, non-toxic, therapy for cancer-related cachexia.

Sources:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22608917

Arginine Supplements Improve Gastric Cancer Care

Gastric cancer causes significant malnutrition in patients, negatively impacting their survival rates, and affecting their quality of life. But can supplementing with the amino acid arginine improve care?

Gastric cancer, or stomach cancer, usually develops in the innermost layer of the stomach—the mucosa. Unfortunately, the early stages of stomach cancer often don’t produce symptoms, so the cancer often grows before its detected. Prognosis is often poor.

Gastric cancer can often be treated by surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or targeted therapies. Some of these treatments have severe side effects, including nausea and lack of appetite.

These side effects, plus the progression of the cancer, often result in malnutrition. If the patient suffers from malnutrition, their survival rate goes down. Malnutrition also prevents some cancer treatment from working effectively.

H Zhao, Y Wang, et al, researchers at the Department of Intensive Care Unit, Daqing Oilfield General Hospital, Daqing, China, hoped to improve nutrition for patients with gastric cancer by supplementing with arginine.

The amino acid arginine is usually produced in the body. Arginine plays an important role in immune function, and wound healing. However, the malnourished gastric cancer patients were not producing enough.

The researchers developed a randomized, double-blinded clinical trial. Malnourished patients with gastric cancer were given either the standard postoperative nutrition, or arginine-enriched nutrition. Both these groups had similar baseline characteristics.

Promising results for arginine supplement and gastric cancer trial

The arginine group had significantly better overall survival rates, of 41 months compared to 30 months. The arginine group also had better progression-free survival, of 18 months compared to 11.5 months.

Immunity was improved, too. The arginine group had significantly higher levels of T cells and natural killer cells, which are critical to the functioning of the immune system.

The researchers concluded that arginine-supplemented nutrition could become a valuable treatment for malnourished gastric cancer patients.

Sources:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23812551

Carnitine Supplements Prevent Toxicity Caused By Chemotherapy

Cancer chemotherapy is continually being refined. Many chemotherapy drugs successfully treat tumors, but they also have severe side effects. Can carnitine (L-carnitine) supplements prevent some of these side effects?

MM Sayed-Ahmed, with King Saud University’s Department of Pharmacology, College of Pharmacy, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, reviewed the role that the amino acid carnitine has in cancer chemotherapy-induced multiple organ toxicity.

Chemotherapy has some extreme side effects, which can greatly reduce quality of life. Nausea, vomiting, and loss of appetite make the patient feel weak. Numbness and muscle and joint pain are also distressing common side effects.

Even worse, some chemotherapy can lead to life-threatening multiple organ toxicity. It’s not usually the anticancer activity of the chemotherapy drugs which cause organ toxicity, but because the chemotherapy drugs affect the absorption of other nutrients.

If carnitine cannot be absorbed and therefore used by the body, the patient develops a carnitine deficiency. And patients with cancer cachexia—the extreme wasting, muscle loss caused by the cancer—are at particular risk from carnitine deficiencies. Cancer cachexia patients are not getting enough nutrition.

Carnitine is found in red meat and dairy products. It’s also found in soybeans, wheat, and avocados. And the active form, it is readily available as a supplement.

Carnitine affects fatty acids and energy production. It also reduces blood triglycerides and cholesterol.

Carnitine depletion leads to toxicity

The anticancer chemotherapy drugs are crucially important, often the only means to treat the cancer. So preventing carnitine deficiency is a key goal. Supplementation with this amino acid, and carefully monitored levels, are necessary to reduce the toxic effects of chemotherapy. Carnitine supplementation does not affect the anticancer activities of the chemotherapy.

The review concluded that carnitine is depleted by several anticancer chemotherapy drugs, and carnitine supplementation must be considered to prevent multiple organ toxicity.

Sources:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23960728

Homocysteine, Cysteine, and Colorectal Cancer

Researchers investigated the link between levels of plasma homocysteine and colorectal cancer in postmenopausal women. Will the results shed light on the risk of developing this cancer?

Colorectal cancer—also known as bowel cancer–is a cancer of the colon (large intestine) or rectum. It’s the third most common cancer diagnosed in men and women, and the second leading cause of cancer-related death when statistics for both sexes are combined.

Improved screening techniques have led to the death rate dropping for colorectal cancer. The polyps which form in the early stages can be removed before they develop into cancers, and early detection also means much better prognosis. All cancers are easier to treat when they are detected early.

But better understanding of colorectal cancer is an important topic of research. And new screening techniques could help diagnose the disease even earlier.

JW Miller, SA Beresford, et al, researchers at the Department of Medical Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of California, USA, developed a study to assess the links between the amino acids homocysteine, cysteine, and the incidence of colorectal cancer in postmenopausal women.

Homocysteine is a non-protein amino acid. It’s similar in formula to cysteine, though homocysteine is biosynthesized in our bodies, from the amino acid methionine. It can also be converted into methionine or cysteine with the aid of B-vitamins. We also get cysteine from food, especially high-protein foods like meat, cheese, and eggs.

High levels of homocysteine have been linked to cardiovascular disease. Would they also be linked to colorectal cancer?

Results of homocysteine, cysteine, and colorectal cancer trial

The trial found some significant results. High levels of homocysteine were associated with proximal colon tumors, though not distal or rectal tumors.

They concluded that high plasma homocysteine levels are associated with an increased risk of colorectal cancer. High levels of cysteine indicate a decreased risk.

Sources:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23426034

L-arginine Prevents Gastric Cancer Cell Growth

More interesting news about the anti-cancer effects of the essential amino acid L-arginine (or simply, arginine). A European study investigated the effects of L-arginine on tumor cell growth on human gastric cancer cell lines. Would L-arginine promote cancer cell death?

Gastric, or stomach, cancers have a poor prognosis because they develop slowly over many years without producing symptoms. By the time symptoms occur, the cancer may have spread, or metastasized, which is much more difficult to treat. The 5-year survival rate is only 5-15%.

Most stomach cancers are adenocarcinomas, which develop from the cells lining the stomach.  Smoking irritates these cells, and smoking greatly increases the risk of developing gastric cancer. Eating a diet high in antioxidant-rich foods, such as fresh berries, could reduce the risk.

S Nanthakumaran, I Brown, et al, researchers at the University of Aberdeen’s College of Life Sciences and Medicine, in Scotland, UK, developed a study on immunonutrition. Immunonutrition is the development of nutritional components that favorably affect the immune function.

The researchers wanted to examine the effects of the amino acid L-arginine on tumor cell growth, cancer cell invasion, and the cancer’s effect on gene expression.

Can L-arginine help treat stomach cancer?

L-arginine is already proven to enhance the immune system, and reduce infectious complications in patients undergoing gastrointestinal surgery.  Healthy people are usually able to synthesize enough L-arginine in their bodies. However, L-arginine supplements are useful for people with surgical or other traumas.

In order study L-arginine’s effect on tumor cells, the researchers grew human gastric cancer cell lines in vitro. Different concentrations of L-arginine were tested.

L-arginine caused the cancer cells to die, by inducing cancer cell apoptosis  (programmed cell death).The researchers discovered cell growth inhibition was caused by the L-arginine increasing the expression of a significant protein: caspase 8. Caspases play an essential role in promoting apoptosis.

L-arginine, therefore, has the potential of being developed into an anti-cancer agent.

Sources:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19036482/

Amino Acids Lysine, Proline, Arginine To Treat Prostate Cancer

A study into the anti-tumor effects of specific nutrients has led to positive results. A unique amino acids-plus formulation of lysine, proline, arginine, ascorbic acid, and epigallocatechin gallate was proved to have anticancer properties, and could become a natural anticancer agent to treat prostate cancer. 

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men, after skin cancer. In fact, about 1 man in 6 will be diagnosed with prostate cancer (U.S. data). But prostate cancer can often be treated successfully, especially if detected early.

Prostate cancer can often be found by testing for a prostate-specific antigen in the blood. A digital rectal exam is also a common screening technique. Once diagnosed and staged, prostate cancer can be treated with surgery, radiation therapy, cryotherapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, and other treatments.

Because some treatments, like chemotherapy, have severe side effects, scientists worldwide are studying new, non-toxic anti-cancer therapies, including some amino acids.

Amino acids nutrient study results: proliferation of prostate cancer cells reduced

Researchers Roomi MW, Ivanov V, et al, from the Matthias Rath Research, Cancer Division, Santa Clara, USA, developed a unique formula containing specific amino acids to treat prostate cancer cell lines.

Various concentrations of the amino acids lysine, proline, and arginine, were combined with ascorbic acid and epigallocatechin gallate. This mixture was tested on prostate cancer cell lines in vitro. The proliferation, or growth, of prostate cancer cells was measured.

Lysine is one of the essential amino acids, which means we must ingest it since our bodies cannot produce it by themselves. The two amino acids proline and arginine are synthesized in our bodies, though of course all amino acids can be consumed as supplements or can come from eating certain protein foods, including meats.

Results of the study were impressive. The amino acids-plus mixture produced a dose-dependent inhibition of some of the prostate cancer cell lines. The researchers concluded that the lysine, proline, and arginine amino acids, ascorbic acid, and epigallocatechin gallate mixture could become a potent anticancer agent, and could be a new treatment for prostate cancer.

Sources:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17564322