Inositol has a long and rich history of preventing cancer

Proper nutrition has long been implicated in maintaining good health. However, few researchers are putting their efforts on looking at the health benefits of natural substances since these won’t rake in as much money as products that can be produced exclusively.

Fortunately, there are still some studies looking at how specific nutrients can be used to prevent or cure diseases. One of the nutrients that has shown great potential as a natural anticancer substance is inositol.

What is Inositol?

Inositol is a water-soluble nutrient that doesn’t normally stay inside the body for long periods of time. Because of these properties, some people categorize it as a B complex vitamin, but the truth is that it’s a carbohydrate that’s produced by the body and found in natural foods. Every day, the kidneys produce four grams of inositol but if that’s not enough you can also get it in the form of myo-inositol from the following foods:

  • Citrus fruits
  • Melons
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Oats
  • Brown rice
  • Corn
  • Beans
  • Chickpeas
  • Liver
  • Lecithin

The body uses myo-inositol to form secondary messengers, cells, structural lipids, and phosphates. It is mainly involved in the processing and transport of fats to the liver so that they don’t build up in the body and are instead converted into energy. Inositol also plays a vital role in maintaining brain health by promoting proper functioning of neurotransmitters and relaxing the mind. Additionally, this nutrient helps improve problems regarding appetite, mood, sleep, blood circulation, and liver toxicity.

Although inositol is involved in many bodily functions, its benefits don’t just stop there. This carbohydrate has also shown potential in the prevention and treatment of cancer.

How does inositol prevent cancer?

Studies associating inositol with anticancer properties date back to the 1970s when the “Father of Chemoprevention,” Dr. Lee Wattenberg, observed inositol’s healing effects on lung cancer. This finding proved that common nutrients can be used either as preventive or therapeutic measures against cancer. Before then, people already believed that nutrition plays a role in cancer prevention but no specific substances had been identified for this purpose.

Another study, this time from the University of Massachusetts School of Medicine, found a substance called inositol hexaphosphate (IP6) and showed that it is effective against colon cancer. This effect possibly involves the role of IP6 in facilitating molecular and cellular signaling. Recently the pathway that it interferes with was determined to be the phosphatidyl-inositol-3-kinase-AKT pathway. Inhibiting this pathway results in reduced inflammatory responses, fewer genetic changes, and curbed tumor growth and metastasis.

Patients with breast cancer also benefit from inositol but for this case, it does so in an indirect manner. It works by correcting polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) which is associated with an increased risk of breast cancer and other diseases such as obesity and diabetes. The relationship between PCOS and breast cancer stems from the fact that some cancers are driven by hormones like estrogen. This means that PCOS-associated problems like hormonal imbalance can exacerbate these cancers.

Until now, the most effective use of inositol in cancer prevention is for those who smoke cigarettes. In a study published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention, the researchers observed that 18 grams of inositol per day for three months reduced the amount of abnormal bronchial cells, which increased the risk of lung cancer when present in large amounts. Moreover, there were also improvements observed in blood pressure compared to the control group.

Overall, years of research regarding the preventive and therapeutic potential of inositol against cancer have provided people with the knowledge that this naturally occurring substance has potent anticancer potential. (Related: Inositol is a vital nutrient for your body that could prevent and heal cancer.)

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