From a surprisingly ordinary source
I devote a lot of space in this newsletter to the latest, cutting-edge natural cures. But sometimes, the most powerful solutions are also the most ordinary ones. And today, I want to take a moment to talk about a common, affordable, and surprisingly effective form of cancer prevention that no one ever talks about…especially mainstream doctors.
At least, they don’t usually talk about it. But thanks to newly published research, the life-saving benefits of this surprisingly ordinary source actually made a few headlines recently. And it’s a good thing, too. Because the more people know about this essential trace mineral’s disease-fighting power, the better.
So let’s start with the latest finding and then I’ll fill you in on all the rest. As you’ll see, there’s a lot more to this natural substance than most people think…
Stop the most lethal cancers dead in their tracks
Of course, I’m talking about one of the most common minerals there is—zinc.
Researchers from the University of Texas at Arlington recently found that zinc was able to block overactive calcium signaling in esophageal cancer cells—impeding their growth, while leaving healthy cells intact.1
This would be a major discovery for any type of cancer. But for cancer of the esophagus—where chances of a five-year survival rate are below 20 percent—it’s nothing short of groundbreaking. And it’s not the only finding of its kind either.
One previous study found that nearly 65 percent of subjects with head and neck cancer were zinc deficient—and suffered reductions in natural killer cells because of it.2 (It’s important to note that a natural killer cell—also known as a lymphocyte, or a type of white blood cell— is typically your first line of defense against cancer.)
In fact, these researchers found zinc levels to be a better indication of a patient’s tumor size and disease stage than their overall nutritional status. Levels of this mineral also correlated to the number of both hospital admissions and infections.
It might be hard to believe that a single, simple nutrient could have such a profound effect on the course of disease—but given what we already know about zinc’s role in cancer prevention, it actually makes perfect sense.
For one thing, zinc blocks NF-kappa B. This is a pro-inflammatory protein that’s activated in cancer cells—responsible for fueling the growth and spread of tumors, while shielding them from programmed cell death, or apoptosis.
That’s not all: Cancer cells are able to avoid their natural fate by subverting a protein called p53. This is a tumor suppressor that triggers the death of cells with damaged DNA. And it just so happens that zinc plays a critical role in ensuring that p53 works effectively, too.3
In other words, when you’re not getting enough zinc, more than one of your body’s most effective means of clearing cancer goes completely defunct.
The “Goldilocks effect” strikes again
Zinc’s powers of prevention aren’t limited to head, neck, and esophageal cancers. Healthy levels appear to play a protective role against colon, bladder, kidney, and nonmelanoma skin cancers, too.4-6
But its most profound benefit may be in cases of prostate and breast cancer. In fact, one 2012 study showed that, among carriers of the lethal BRCA-1 gene, women with higher zinc levels were significantly less likely to develop breast cancer.7
Its role in prostate cancer is a little bit trickier. On one hand, studies show that men with this disease tend to have significantly lower levels of zinc than healthy men. And clinical trials suggest that supplementation could stop prostate cancer’s growth and spread.8
On the other hand, the Health Professionals Follow-up Study revealed an increase in prostate cancer risk at dosages higher than 100 mg per day.9 (But not at dosages below that.)
The reason for this—at least, in part—appears to trace back to the p53 protein I mentioned above. Research shows that excessive zinc can impact the activity of this important tumor suppressor just as negatively as low levels do. Making this a classic case of “too much of a good thing.”
This shouldn’t scare men off from zinc supplementation, though. Overdosing on zinc isn’t exactly easy to do. Especially not at the current recommended intakes of just 8 mg for women and 11 mg for men. And given the staggering rates of deficiency in American seniors, there’s little question where the bigger risk in this population lies.
The common thread tying inflammation to immunity rot
About 40 percent of Americans over age 65 have dangerously low zinc levels. There are a couple of reasons for this—not least of which is that older people just don’t seem to use or absorb zinc as well as younger people. According to the authors of one 2015 study, this presents a dangerous “double whammy” for older adults.
These researchers found that zinc deficiency increases inflammation by way of malfunctioning immune cells.10 And this suggests that low zinc could also be a driving force behind the age-related phenomenon known as immunosenescence—or as I like to call it, “immunity rot.”
Immunity rot refers to the gradual erosion of your immune defenses with age. It’s the reason why seniors are more susceptible to threats like flu, pneumonia, and shingles. And not surprisingly, chronic inflammation is one of the hallmarks of this insidious condition.
As I’ve said many times before, runaway inflammation is the culprit behind virtually every age-related disease imaginable. Not just cancer, but Alzheimer’s, diabetes, heart disease, obesity, fatty liver… and the list goes on. And it just so happens that research has tied zinc deficiency to every one of these leading killers, too.11
Nevertheless, conventional medicine is notorious for ignoring zinc’s importance. So your doctor isn’t likely to be proactive about assessing your status. But there is a test available. It’s called an RBC mineral screening. And it measures the levels of zinc, magnesium, potassium, chromium, copper, manganese, and calcium you have in your blood.
“Normal” zinc levels often vary greatly from lab to lab, but you want yours to be well within the upper “normal” range. And if you find your zinc levels are low, getting a boost is simple.
First of all, make sure to include plenty of high-zinc foods in your daily diet. (You have a lot of options—including red meat, eggs, nuts, and shellfish—all A-List Diet approved, of course.)
But because your body can’t store this trace mineral very efficiently—and especially if you’re over 60—I urge you to supplement with at least 30 mg of zinc per day, as well, along with 1 mg of copper.
- Choi S, et al. FASEB J. 2018 Jan;32(1):404-416.
- Prasad AS, et al. Nutr Cancer. 2009;61(6):879-87.
- Loh SN, et al. Metallomics. 2010 Jul;2(7):442-9.
- Lee DH, et al. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2004 Mar 3;96(5):403-7.
- Golabek T, et al. Arch Med Sci. 2016 Apr 1; 12(2): 436–447.
- Sun J, et al. Cancer Med. 2016 Aug; 5(8): 2032–2042.
- Katarzyna K, et al. Hered Cancer Clin Pract. 2012; 10(Suppl 4): A6.
- Santillo VM, et al. Int Braz J Urol. 2006 Jan-Feb;32(1):3-14.
- Leitzmann MF, et al. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2003 Jul 2;95(13):1004-7.
- Wong CP, et al. Mol Nutr Food Res. 2015 May;59(5):991-9.
- Kaur K, et al. Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety, 2014; 13 (4): 358.