VITAMIN SUPPLEMENTS TO PREVENT CANCER: VITAMIN A (BETACAROTENE)

Vitamin A plays an important role in strengthening the body’s immune system. It can protect against cancer formation, suppress the transformation of healthy cells into cancerous cells and is needed for the repair and maintenance of epithelial tissue, of which the skin and mucous membranes are composed.

Shortly after its discovery in 1922, vitamin A was found to be effective in the prevention of cancer. Many studies suggest that high blood levels of vitamin A can help prevent certain forms of cancer. Protein cannot be utilized in the body without vitamin A. It r «educes the risk of many types of cancer by improving the structural integrity of mucous membranes that line various organs of the body. Specifically, vitamin A reduces the risk of developing breast, cervical, lung, mouth, pharyngeal, prostate, skin, stomach, testicular and uterine cancer.

Adequate levels of vitamin A protect normal cells from mutating into cancer cells after exposure to carcinogens. Vitamin A minimizes the toxic effects of radiation, if taken at 35000 IU – 100000 IU/day.

Vitamin A and Immune Support

Vitamin A is a friend to the body’s immune system by increasing efficiency of cells that produce antibodies. It is able to increase the body’s resistance to infection by enhancing phagocyte and antibody production and by protecting and strengthening the body’s thymus gland, which helps us fight against infectious agents and carcinogens.

Adequate supplementation and absorption of vitamin A can cause the thymus gland to doubles in size. It likewise enhances the thymus gland to manufacture cancer-fighting T-lymphocytes. During chemotherapy, vitamin A levels are often very low.

Many studies have suggested that diets high in carotenes can protect against several types of cancer including those of the cervix, ovaries, uterus, mouth, gastrointestinal tract, lung prostate and breast. Other studies have consistently shown that cancer victims have lower carotenoid levels than healthy individuals.

About five hundred carotenes occur in the plant kingdom. Some have vitamin A activity and some do not. Beta-carotene, a precursor of vitamin A, is well studied and is very effective with regard to health benefits. Beta-carotene has some properties unique to itself as well. It is a potent scavenger of toxic oxygen radicals (singlet oxygen), especially those produced by chemicals in the air and those generated by our metabolism.

Beta-carotene has much stronger immune-stimulating and thymic supportive activity than vitamin A, and it is much safer to use. It protects the body’s mucous membranes and is effective in guarding against lung cancer and the damages of cigarette smoking on the lungs, and also from ultraviolet-induced skin cancers. In addition, it is an essential nutrient for normal ovarian function. Therefore it is very beneficial to have good amounts of beta-carotene during cancer treatment.

Alpha-carotene can reduce the incidence of liver, lung and skin cancers. It is believed to be 10 times more effective than beta-carotene at preventing various cancers.

Lycopene, the red-pigmented carotenoid, is effective in reducing the risk of prostate, breast, liver and stomach cancer. It also helps to prevent many of the side effects associated with radiation therapy, particularly burning of tissues. Lycopene has strong antioxidant properties and is a very effective quencher of singlet oxygen free radicals (a potentially dangerous cancer-causing agent), two times more effectively than beta-carotene and 100 times more effectively than vitamin E. It is able to retard the damage caused by oxidized LDL cholesterol and protects against cancer of the cervix. Women with high serum lycopene levels have 80 per cent less risk of developing cervical cancer than women with low levels.

Alpha and beta-carotene rich foods include sweet potato, carrots, broccoli, spinach, apricots, pumpkin, cantaloupe (rockmelon) and pink grapefruit. Lycopene-rich foods include tomatoes (fresh, sun-dried and tomato paste), pink grapefruit, red capsicum, watermelon, papaya, apricots and paprika.

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