What Is The Best Description Of A Peer-Reviewed Journal Article Fighting Cancer With Whey

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Fighting Cancer With Whey

Studies on whey show that it is an even better protein supplement than previously thought. Although the health benefits of whey protein have only recently been elucidated, the use of whey protein for medicinal purposes has been prescribed since the time of Hippocrates. In fact, there are two old proverbs from the Italian city of Florence that say: “If you want to live a healthy and active life, drink whey” and “If everyone grew up on whey, doctors would go bankrupt.”

In previous issues, we have noted extensive research showing the many potential health benefits of whey protein concentrate. Most of these studies were conducted in the 1980s and early 1990s and were extremely conclusive. Scientists have continued to research whey protein with even more impressive results. What follows are some of the more current, interesting, and useful research on whey protein.

Whey and crab

Additional animal studies were conducted on cancer-causing chemicals to see what effect whey protein concentrate would have on cancer prevention or treatment. Scientists fed rats various proteins, and then subjected them to the powerful carcinogen dimethylhydrazine.

As in the previous study, rats fed with whey protein concentrate showed fewer tumors and a reduced total tumor area (tumor mass index). The researchers found that whey protein offered “substantial protection to the host” compared to other proteins, including soy. 1

More excitingly, in vivo research on cancer and whey has shown that whey protein concentrate inhibits the growth of breast cancer cells at low concentrations (Baruchel S. and Vaiu G., Anti Cancer Research, 1996). Finally, and most importantly, a relatively recent clinical study with cancer patients showed regression of tumors in some patients when they were fed whey protein concentrate at 30 grams per day. 2

Whey and glutathione

This new research using whey protein concentrate has led researchers to an amazing discovery regarding the relationship between cancer cells, glutathione (GSH) and whey protein concentrate. Whey protein concentrate has been found to selectively deplete cancer cells of their glutathione, making them more sensitive to cancer treatments such as radiation and chemotherapy.

Cancer cells and normal cells have been found to respond differently to nutrients and drugs that affect glutathione status. What is most interesting to note is the fact that the concentration of glutathione in tumor cells is higher than in the normal cells surrounding them. This difference in glutathione status between normal and cancer cells is believed to be an important factor in the resistance of cancer cells to chemotherapy.

As the researchers said, “tumor cell GSH concentration may be among the determinants of cytotoxicity [poisonous to cells] many chemotherapy agents and radiation, and the increase in GSH concentration appears to be at least one of the mechanisms of acquired resistance to chemotherapy drugs.”

They further state: “It is well known that rapid synthesis of GSH in tumor cells is associated with high rates of cell proliferation. Depletion of tumor GSH in vivo reduces the rate of cell proliferation and inhibits cancer growth.”

The problem is that it is difficult to sufficiently reduce glutathione in tumor cells without putting healthy tissue at risk and making the cancer patient worse off. What is needed is a compound that can selectively deplete cancer cells of their glutathione, while simultaneously increasing or at least maintaining glutathione levels in healthy cells.

Whey protein seems to do just that. In this new research, it was found that cancer cells subjected to whey proteins were depleted of their glutathione, and their growth was inhibited, while normal cells had an increase in GSH and increased cell growth.

These effects were not observed with other proteins. The researchers concluded that not surprisingly, “selective depletion of tumor GSH may actually make cancer cells more vulnerable to the effects of chemotherapy and ultimately protect normal tissue from the adverse effects of chemotherapy.” The exact mechanism by which whey protein does this is not fully understood, but it appears to interfere with the normal feedback mechanism and regulation of glutathione in cancer cells.

It is known that the production of glutathione is negatively inhibited by its own synthesis. Because baseline glutathione levels are higher in cancer cells than in normal cells, it is likely easier to achieve a level of negative feedback inhibition in cancer cell glutathione levels than in normal cell glutathione levels.

Whey and LDL cholesterol

The positive health benefits of whey protein concentrate do not end with its effects on immunity and cancer prevention and treatment. Whey protein concentrate has also been found to be a potent inhibitor of oxidized low-density lipoprotein cholesterol. Current research shows that the conversion of LDL to oxidized LDL is the trigger that leads to atherogenesis…the formation of plaque and lesions associated with atherosclerosis.

Therefore, any substance that prevents the oxidation of LDL is considered to be antiatherogenic. Although animal proteins have traditionally been considered proatherogenic, whey protein appears to be an exception to the rule. whey protein consists of several smaller and larger fractions, such as beta-lactoglobulin, alpha-lactalbumin, albumin, lactoferrin and immunoglobulin. It was discovered that the minor component that appears to be responsible for the ability of whey protein concentrate to prevent LDL oxidation is the lactoferrin fraction of the protein. 3

Lactoferrin in whey

When lactoferrin was removed from the protein, the ability of whey protein concentrate to prevent LDL oxidation was greatly reduced, leading the researchers to speculate: “Our results suggest that LF (lactoferrin) is the main factor responsible for the inhibitory effect of whey protein (on LDL ) and may act synergistically with other factors in whey protein, for example, alpha-lactalbumin.”

Another study in rats examined the effects of whey protein concentrate and casein on cholesterol and heart disease risk factors. Although casein (another milk-based protein often used in research) is known to raise cholesterol in humans and animals, whey protein has the opposite effect, leading researchers to note: “At high levels of dietary protein [300 gram per kilogram of feed] whey protein significantly reduced cholesterol in plasma and liver, as well as triacylglycerols in plasma.” 4

The cholesterol-lowering effects of whey protein concentrate in this study were also associated with a reduction in LDL cholesterol. Most interesting was the fact that this effect on cholesterol was not seen when animals were fed amino acid mixtures that simulated whey protein, so it is clear that there are properties within whey that have these effects beyond the amino acid profile.

Whey and bone growth

Finally, whey protein appears to play a direct role in bone growth. The researchers found that rats fed whey protein concentrate showed increased bone strength and bone proteins such as collagen. This discovery led to research to investigate whether whey protein directly stimulates the growth of osteoblasts (bone cells) in vitro.

Whey protein has been found to stimulate, dose-dependently, total protein synthesis, DNA content and increase hydroxyproline content in bone cells. 5

It should be noted that not all whey protein concentrates are created equal. The processing of whey protein to remove lactose and fat without losing its biological activity requires special attention from the manufacturer. The protein must be processed under low temperature and low acid conditions so as not to “denature” the protein. Maintaining the natural state of the protein is essential for its biological activity.

These research findings, combined with the previous decade of whey protein studies, should convince anyone that whey protein concentrate is truly a life-extending protein.

Higher levels of glutathione and whey

A decade and a half of discoveries about the benefits of whey protein are far-reaching.

Previous studies include the following:

* Whey protein concentrate dramatically raises glutathione levels. Glutathione is an essential water-soluble antioxidant in the body that protects cells and serves as the primary detoxifier of harmful compounds such as peroxides, heavy metals, carcinogens and other toxins.

* Glutathione is also closely related to immunity, and reduced levels of glutathione are associated with diseases such as AIDS, atherosclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease, to name a few. In fact, glutathione levels appear to be one way of modulating immunity. 6

* Whey protein concentrate has been found to consistently raise this extremely important immune-stimulating antioxidant above the levels of any protein studied (including soy) to higher than normal levels in multiple animal studies. 7

A small pilot study with HIV-positive men fed whey protein concentrate found a dramatic increase in glutathione levels in all study participants, with two out of three men reaching their ideal body weight. 8

In fact, several US and international patents have been granted for the treatment of AIDS and immune enhancement with whey protein concentrates.

* Whey protein improves immune function and fights infections. Animals fed whey protein concentrate consistently show dramatic improvements in humoral and cellular immune responses to various immune challenges, such as salmonella, streptococcal pneumonia 9 and extreme cancer-causing chemicals. This effect on immunity was not observed with other proteins.

* Whey protein concentrate fights cancer. Animals fed whey protein.

References

1. (McIntosh GH, et al., Journal of Nutrition, 1995)

2. (Kennedy RS, Konok GP, Bounous G., Baruchel S., Lee TD, Anti Cancer Research, 1995)

3. (M. Kajikawa et al. Biochemica et Biophysica Acta, 1994)

4. (Zhang X. and Beynen AC Brit. J. of Nutri., 1993)

5. (Takada Y., Aoe S., Kumegawa M., Biochemical Research Communications, 1996)

6. (Rosanne K., Fidelus and Min Fu Tsan. Cellular Immunology, 1986)

7. (Bounous G. and Gold P., Clin. Invest. Med. 1991.)

8. (Bounous G., Baruchel S., Faiutz J., Gold P., Clin. Invest. Med. 1992.)

9. (Bounous G., Konshavn P., Gold P., Clin. Invest. Med. 1988.)

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