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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The Three Biggie Minerals for Cancer Prevention

Those who are doing research into nutrition, generally look at a narrow spectrum of it.  As I’ve said before, the body doesn’t work on a narrow spectrum, but on a network of inter-related nutrients and processes with much connectivity, positive and negative feedback loops, and complexity that is mind boggling.  So, when a researcher looks at one nutrient, and draws conclusions, I’d like you to remember the complexity that lies behind the single nutrient studied.

I am going to list three nutrients below for which there is excellent research indicating they play a role in cancer prevention (and by implication in cancer survivability).  Next time I’ll talk about some other things that research says play a role in staying clear of cancer.  But…the conclusion I draw from this is that cancer and disease prevention is multidimensional and isolating one thing is only part of the picture.  Also, over and over as I’m digging into this kind of information, these minerals first, are identified as public health concerns for their universal deficiencies in large populations.  Statistically, you’re probably low in these things—maybe dangerously low—because they’re hard to get adequately in diet.
1.  Selenium.  Areas of low selenium content in the soil have higher rates of cancer than areas of high content.  My first experience with this mineral was in livestock health.  In low selenium areas large animals must get selenium injections or various problems occur—especially in reproductive health.  It is always combined with Vitamin E.  Areas low in selenium are higher in cancer.  No question.  Particularly cancers of lung, esophagus, bladder, breast, colon, rectum, pancreas, ovary and cervix.  Its exact role or the degree to which it is preventative might still be under discussion.  But selenium’s role in general is well established as being critical for cancer prevention.  But it’s also implicated in many other disease processes as well.  
Here’s a list of conditions connected to selenium deficiency:
            A type of heart disease (white muscle in animals)
Reproductive problems such as low sperm quality
Kidney Disease
Verbal memory and age-related mental decline
Fibrocystic breast disease
Look at the map of selenium deficient (or selenium rich) soils in the US here:
And remember that where your food comes from might not be local.
How much selenium do you need?  RDA for adults is 400 mcg.  Depending on how deficient you are, it must be stored in all the places it’s missing so you might need much more.  The types of cancers (and diseases) that show up in selenium deficient places are perhaps indicative of the organs in which selenium is most stored.
Not long ago I was diagnosed with fibrocystic breast disease and for several months was take 3 times that amount.   The cysts disappeared within 6 months and I now take 800 mcg daily.  I live in a selenium deficient area and eat locally.  Also in that same time frame, I had a dairy goat with cystic ovaries that has resolved with more frequent selenium injections.  Just reporting my own experiments, not making recommendations.  
2.  Iodine.  Your thyroid gland is perhaps the major player in the whole orchestration of your immune system.  The immune system protects you against cancer (and many other diseases).  The active form of thyroid hormone that does most of the work in your body is named tri-iodo-thyronine (hyphens are mine), so named because it contains three iodine molecules.   If iodine is in short supply, that hormone cannot be produced and the immune system is compromised.  And since your thyroid gland is something of a master controller for so many other systems, there are many other effects of low iodine (low thyroid) too.  (See previous post on Thyroid).
Some researchers indicate that iodine deficiency also increases the risk of other cancers such as prostate, endometrial, and ovarian cancer.  In other words, any tissue that stores iodine is ripe for disease if iodine is in short supply.  So first, iodine is implicated in both breast and thyroid cancers.  But there is also a link between iodine deficiency and gastric cancer going back to 1924.  
What else?   Low iodine is correlated with many other health problems:
          Developmental mental retardation
          All reproductive problems (see above for selenium)
          Heart arrhythmias
          Eye disease
Heart disease
Fungal skin disease
Too high or too low thyroid
Where do we get iodine?  Sea food and sea vegetables are the best sources but here are others.  If you are low, adding iodine rich foods will probably not be enough—and public health officials are decrying widespread deficiency.  It’s almost nonexistent in soil so it’s difficult to get enough.  To add insult to injury, exposure to other halides like chloride, bromine and fluoride may be out-competing what little iodine there is.   
How much iodine do you need?  If we compare the lower rates of cancers in Japan with their 60,000 micrograms per day, it’s clear we have a long way to go before reaching too much.  BTW that translates to 60 mg.  While treating for both fibrocystic problems and upping my iodine for a sluggish thyroid (carpal tunnel is a symptom of either low iodine or low thyroid or both) I was taking about 30 mg every other day.  On reading about these levels in the Japanese diet, I doubled my iodine supplement and within days noticed a big improvement in carpel tunnel symptoms.
3.  Magnesium.  I’m just starting my look at magnesium so this section will be a little less detailed.  But the information is pretty clear that magnesium deficiency and cancer development go hand in hand.
It’s the second most common element in the human body and involved in 300-350 enzyme reactions in your body.  They are involved in the metabolism of carbohydrate, amino acids, nucleic acids, protein, and ion transport. Magnesium is involved in the cell’s energy production in the mitochondria (the power plant in each cell).  Magnesium actively pumps calcium ions OUT of the cell, but if magnesium is low relative to calcium, those calcium ions build up in the cell, calcifying at the cell membrane.  A calcified cell membrane makes a sick cell, prone to other changes and death.

Cancer prevalence and low Mg content of water and of soil was reported from worldwide early studies, starting from the earliest 20th century.  Fergusson, Madden, Day, Dolbey, as well as the eminent English cancer specialist, Roger Williams, and Engel Bey wrote in 1908. "From these data it appears that the reputation of Egypt for comparative immunity from cancer is well founded."  In 1931, the following:

Dr. P. Schrumpf-Pierron presented a paper entitled "On the Cause Of the Rarity of Cancer in Egypt," concluding that ”which characterizes the diet of the Rural Egyptian is its richness in salts of magnesium. They consume in food, in the water, and in the crude salt used from 2.5 to 3 grams of magnesium per day, against 4 to 5 grams of potash (potassium).  That magnesium intake is about ten times that of Europeans and Americans.
Dr. Mildred Seelig wrote Magnesium In Oncogenesis And In Anti-Cancer Treatment: Interaction With Minerals And Vitamins, published in 1993.  She covered much information that should have triggered research but hasn’t.  (Follow the money).  But clearly, according to many epidemiological studies, cancer rates are higher in areas of soft water (fewer minerals that make water ‘hard’)  and low soil magnesium.  Especially sensitive to magnesium deficiency are colorectal and pancreatic cancers. adeno- and squamous cell carcinomas in the gastrointestinal tract, respiratory system, and leukemias. 
Magnesium deficiency has been linked to the following health conditions:
migraine headaches
fatigue and lethargy
digestive problems
muscle cramps
premenstrual cramping
metabolic syndrome
type 2 diabetes
heart disease
The National Institutes of Health recommend daily consumption of 420 milligrams for men and 320 milligrams for adult woman, with slightly more for pregnant women.  Dr. Dean, author of “The Magnesium Miracle” goes further. She says that 700 milligrams of elemental magnesium daily, is important for curing and preventing a host of problems (see list above).  That level is nearly impossible to get through diet alone — through leafy green vegetables, squash, broccoli, legumes, seeds, nuts, and some meats and saltwater fish — because of soil that is low or depleted of magnesium.  Remember the Egyptians at 2 ½  to 3 grams.
Many researchers have tested minerals in vegetables and fruits, finding them far lower than tests of a few decades earlier.  If you are eating commercially grown vegetables and fruits, remember that they are boosted with nitrogen but not magnesium and trace minerals.  If you have noticed produce being tasteless in recent years, that’s why.  
The World Health Organization also said that up to 80 percent of Americans are deficient in the mineral. Like the minerals before, deficiency is widespread according to many researchers and public health investigators.  Researchers found that 46% of the patients admitted to the ICU of a cancer center presented with Mg deficiency.   Studies suggest that cancer may not be able to exist in a body saturated with magnesium.  A type of magnesium supplement that can cross the blood brain barrier and is implicated in age related memory problems, is magnesium L-threonate.  Several sources have said it’s very hard to overdose on magnesium, and that like Vitamin C, when you get too much you will experience diarrhea—an indication of too much.
More about growing things in the next blog when I finish up this section on (mostly) cancer causes, with two more important nutrients that are not minerals.  If you have a history of cancer in your family, or are dealing with it now, getting these three minerals into your diet are a no brainer. 

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