Tag Archives: cancer patients

Can Carnitine Help Prevent Colon Cancer?

A Canadian in vitro study investigated the effects of two nutrients on colon cancer. Would the amino acid carnitine improve the anticancer effect of a fatty acid? Results were promising.

Colon cancer, or colorectal cancer, is one of the most common cancers in the world. The risk of developing colon cancer is about 1 in 20. However, if caught early, the cancer can be cured. The 5-year survival rate for stage 1 (the earliest stage) is almost 75%.

Not all risk factors for developing colon cancer are known, though people with inflammatory bowel disease have an increased risk. People with Type 2 diabetes also have a higher risk of developing colon cancer.

Nutrition and diet are other risk factors. A diet high in red meat and processed meat increases the risk of developing colon cancer. Diets high in vegetables and fiber could reduce the risk, though studies are continually ongoing.

Researchers (M Roy, S Dionne, et al) from the University of Montreal’s Department of Nutrition (Quebec, Canada) developed a study to investigate the effect of diet and colon cancer. The study focused on butyrate and the amino acid carnitine.

Butyrate is a short-chain fatty acid, found in dietary fiber and dairy products. Butyrate has potential anticancer affects. And butyrate’s effectiveness is enhanced by carnitine. Would these two nutrients inhibit colon cancer?

Carnitine and colon cancer cells: results

Human colon cancer cells were incubated with butyrate and carnitine. The colon cancer cells were tested for proliferation–reproducing, and apoptosis—programmed cell death.

The researchers found that butyrate and carnitine acted on the cancer cells at the molecular level. Proteins which cause apoptosis were increased by the butyrate and carnitine, and the cancer cell genetic expression was decreased.

The study concluded that carnitine and butyrate do prevent colon cancer cells from spreading, and also that carnitine and butyrate cause apoptosis in colon cancer cells. This could lead to further in vivo studies, with the hope of finding new treatments for colon cancer

Sources:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19619983

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