|BodybuildingPro.com Presents: "Fighting Cancer with Whey" - By Will Brink
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"Fighting Cancer With Whey"
By Will Brink, author of:
Muscle Building Nutrition
Muscle Gaining Diet, Training Routines by Charles Poliquin & Bodybuilding
Diet Supplements Revealed
Real World Fat Loss Diet & Weight Loss Supplement Review
"Fighting Cancer With Whey"
on whey demonstrate it's an even better protein supplement than previously
thought. Although whey protein's health benefits 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 ancient
proverbs from the Italian city of Florence that say, "If you want to live a
healthy and active life, drink whey," and, "If everyone were raised on whey,
doctors would be bankrupt."
In previous issues, we've chronicled the extensive research showing the
many potential health benefits of whey protein concentrate. The majority of
that research was done in the 1980s and early 1990s, and was extremely
persuasive. Scientists have continued their research on whey proteins with
even more impressive results. What follows is some of the more current,
interesting and useful research on whey proteins.
Whey and Cancer
Additional studies have been done on animals regarding cancer-causing
chemicals to see what effects 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 with the previous research, the rats fed whey protein concentrate
showed fewer tumors and a reduced pooled area of tumors (tumor mass index).
The researchers found whey protein offered "considerable protection to the
host" over that of other proteins, including soy. 1
Even more exciting, in vivo research on cancer and whey showed whey
protein concentrate inhibited the growth of breast cancer cells at low
concentrations (Baruchel S. and Vaiu G., Anti Cancer Research, 1996).
Finally, and most importantly, a fairly recent clinical study with cancer
patients showed a regression in some patient's tumors when fed whey protein
concentrate at 30 grams per day. 2
Whey and Glutathione
This new research using whey protein concentrate led researchers to an
amazing discovery regarding the relationship between cancerous cells,
glutathione (GSH) and whey protein concentrate. It was found that whey
protein concentrate selectively depletes cancer cells of their glutathione,
thus making them more susceptible to cancer treatments such as radiation and
It has been found that cancer cells and normal cells will 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 that of the normal cells that surround it.
This difference in glutathione status between normal cells and cancer cells
is believed to be an important factor in cancer cells' resistance to
As the researchers put it, "Tumor cell GSH concentration may be among the
determinants of the cytotoxicity [poisonous to cells] of many
chemotherapeutic agents and of radiation, and an increase in GSH
concentration appears to be at least one of the mechanisms of acquired drug
resistance to chemotherapy."
They further state, "It is well-known that rapid GSH synthesis in tumor
cells is associated with high rates of cellular proliferation. Depletion of
tumor GSH in vivo decreases the rate of cellular proliferation and inhibits
The problem is, it's difficult to reduce glutathione sufficiently in
tumor cells without placing healthy tissue at risk and putting the cancer
patient in a worse condition. What is needed is a compound that can
selectively deplete the cancer cells of their glutathione, while increasing,
or at least maintaining, the levels of glutathione in healthy cells.
This is exactly what whey protein appears to do. 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 cellular growth.
These effects were not seen with other proteins. Not surprisingly, the
researchers concluded, "Selective depletion of tumor GSH may in fact render
cancer cells more vulnerable to the action of chemotherapy and eventually
protect normal tissue against the deleterious effects of chemotherapy." The
exact mechanism by which whey protein achieves this is not fully understood,
but it appears that it interferes with the normal feedback mechanism and
regulation of glutathione in cancer cells.
It is known that glutathione production is negatively inhibited by its
own synthesis. Being that baseline glutathione levels in cancer cells are
higher than that of normal cells, it is probably easier to reach the level
of negative-feedback inhibition in the cancer cells' glutathione levels than
in the normal cells' glutathione levels.
Whey and LDL Cholesterol
The positive health benefits of whey protein concentrate does not
end with its effects on immunity and cancer prevention and treatment. Whey
protein concentrate also was found to be a potent inhibitor of oxidized low
density lipoprotein cholesterol. Current research suggests that the
conversion of LDL to oxidized LDL is the trigger that leads to atherogenesis...
the formation of the plaque and lesions associated with atherosclerosis.
Therefore, any substance that prevents the oxidation of LDL is thought to
be anti-atherogenic. Though animal-based proteins have traditionally been
implicated as being pro-atherogenic, whey proteins appear to be an exception
to the rule. whey protein is made up of several minor and major fractions,
such as beta-lactoglobulin, alpha-lactalbumin, albumin, lactoferrin and
immunoglobulin. It was discovered that the minor constituent responsible for
the ability of whey protein concentrate to prevent the oxidation of LDL
appears to be the lactoferrin fraction of the protein. 3
Lactoferrin In Whey
When the lactoferrin was removed from the protein, the ability of the
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 it may function synergistically together with other factors in the
whey protein, for example, alpha-lactalbumin."
Another study using rats examined the effects of whey protein concentrate
and casein on cholesterol and the risk factors of heart disease. Though
casein (another milk-based protein commonly used in research) is known to
raise cholesterol in humans and animals, whey protein has the opposite
effect, leading the researchers to note, "At the high dietary protein level
[300 gram per kilogram of feed] , whey protein significantly lowered plasma
and liver cholesterol and also plasma triacylglycerols." 4
The cholesterol-lowering effects of whey protein concentrate in this
study also was associated with a reduction in LDL cholesterol. Most
interesting was the fact that this effect on cholesterol was not seen when
the animals were fed amino acid mixtures that simulated whey protein, so it
is clear that there are properties within the whey that have these effects
beyond that of its amino acid profile.
Whey and Bone Growth
Finally, whey protein appears to play a direct role in bone growth.
Researchers found that rats fed whey protein concentrate showed increased
bone strength and bone protein such as collagen. This discovery led
researches to test whether or not whey protein directly stimulated
osteoblast (bone cell) growth in vitro.
Whey protein was found to stimulate, dose dependently, total protein
synthesis, DNA content, and increased hydroxyproline contents of bone cells.
It should be noted that not all whey protein concentrates are created
equal. Processing whey protein to remove the lactose and fats without losing
its biological activity takes special care by 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 to its biological activity.
These research findings, combined with the previous decade of study on
whey protein, should convince anyone that whey protein concentrate is truly
the life-extension protein.
Higher Glutathione Levels and Whey
A decade-and-a-half of findings on 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 a primary detoxifier of harmful compounds
such as peroxides, heavy metals, carcinogens and other toxins.
- Glutathione also is intimately tied to immunity, and reduced
glutathione levels have been associated with disease such as AIDS,
atherosclerosis, Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease, to name only
a few. In fact, glutathione levels appear to be one way of modulating
- Whey protein concentrate was found to consistently raise this
extremely important immune stimulating antioxidant beyond that of any
protein studied (including soy) to higher than normal levels in multiple
animal studies. 7
A small pilot study with HIV-positive men who were fed whey protein
concentrate found dramatic increases in glutathione levels of all the
study participants, with two out of three men reaching their ideal body
In fact, there have been several U.S. and international patents granted
for the treatment of AIDS and improving immunity with whey protein
- Whey protein improves immune function and fights infections. Animals
fed whey protein concentrate consistently showed dramatic enhancement of
both the humoral and cellular immune response to a variety of immune
challenges, such as salmonella, streptococcus pneumonia 9 and
extreme cancer-causing chemicals. This effect on immunity was not seen
with other proteins.
- Whey protein concentrate fights cancer. Animals fed whey protein.
1. (McIntosh G.H,. et al., Journal of Nutrition, 1995)
2. (Kennedy R.S., Konok G.P., Bounous G., Baruchel S., Lee T.D., Anti Cancer
3. (M. Kajikawa et al. Biochemica et Biophysica Acta, 1994)
4. (Zhang X. and Beynen A.C. Brit. J. of Nutri., 1993)
5. (Takada Y., Aoe S., Kumegawa M., Biochemical Research Communications,
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)
About the Author - William D. Brink
Will Brink is a columnist, contributing consultant, and writer for various
health/fitness, medical, and bodybuilding publications. His articles relating to
nutrition, supplements, weight loss, exercise and medicine can be found in such
publications as Lets Live, Muscle Media 2000, MuscleMag International, The Life
Extension Magazine, Muscle n Fitness, Inside Karate, Exercise For Men Only, Body
International, Power, Oxygen, Penthouse, Women?s World and The Townsend Letter
He is the author of Priming The Anabolic Environment and Weight
Loss Nutrients Revealed. He is the Consulting Sports Nutrition Editor and a
monthly columnist for Physical magazine and an Editor at Large for Power
magazine. Will graduated from Harvard University with a concentration in the
natural sciences, and is a consultant to major supplement, dairy, and
He has been co author of several studies relating to sports nutrition and health
found in peer reviewed academic journals, as well as having commentary published
in JAMA. He runs the highly popular web site BrinkZone.com which is
strategically positioned to fulfill the needs and interests of people with
diverse backgrounds and knowledge. The BrinkZone site has a following with many
sports nutrition enthusiasts, athletes, fitness professionals, scientists,
medical doctors, nutritionists, and interested lay people. William has been
invited to lecture on the benefits of weight training and nutrition at
conventions and symposiums around the U.S. and Canada, and has appeared on
numerous radio and television programs.
William has worked with athletes ranging from professional bodybuilders,
golfers, fitness contestants, to police and military personnel.
See Will's ebooks online here:
Muscle Building Nutrition
A complete guide bodybuilding supplements and eating to gain lean muscle
Diet Supplements Revealed
A review of diet
supplements and guide to eating for maximum fat loss
He can be contacted at: PO Box 812430
Wellesley MA. 02482.
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