Deoxyribonucleic acid, better known as DNA, is the genetic instruction manual of how to build every cell in our body. If our DNA was never damaged, we would easily live 150 years. But disease, toxins, and environmental exposures take their toll. DNA damage is responsible for creating cancer cells, cell damage in the brain, increased inflammation in the body, and decreased activity in our organs. The role that oxidative stress plays in damaging DNA cannot be overstated. However, the assaults on our DNA that happen every single day are incredibly diverse. Imagine if you had to fight against all kinds of weapons at once. The way you defend yourself from bullets is vastly different than defense against poison. That’s why damage to DNA is cumulative and insidious. The most powerful nutrients I have found for protecting DNA and combating the threat of oxidation – the “cellular rust” that happens as we age – include clinically proven high absorption curcumin (from turmeric), turmerones from turmeric oil, and a tannin-free French grape seed extract with a high oligomeric proanthocyanidin (OPC) content. Combined, they can stop cellular damage due to inflammation and oxidation, and help reverse and heal a multitude of health concerns.
Curcumin, the powerful compound found in turmeric, is a potent antioxidant and inflammation fighter. It neutralizes free radicals and stops them from causing cellular damage. It inhibits inflammatory markers in the body to prevent tissue degradation. However, not all curcumin extracts are the same, and many are difficult for the body to absorb. In my years of research, the most effective curcumin extract is one that is made to a very fine powder and then blended with turmeric oil for greater absorption compared to turmeric. This same curcumin does more than simply absorb. It stays in the bloodstream – at significant levels – for up to 12 hours. In fact, the specially-prepared extract of curcumin I recommend has an antioxidant value of over 1,500,000 per 100 g –many times higher than that of blueberries (6,552), strawberries (3,577), or dark chocolate (powder) (40,200) – all of which are well-known, valuable food-based antioxidants. Like other powerful natural ingredients, this specific extract has no serious side effects – except to make you exceptionally healthy. Curcumin has been shown to prevent the changes that cause normal cells to become cancerous, stop the replication of cancerous cells (tumor formation), and stop cancerous cells from migrating to other parts of the body (known as metastasis). Published studies on curcumin’s anticancer activity (so far) have found that it can suppress breast, prostate, liver, skin, colon, and lung cancer. Additionally, curcumin has been shown to increase the activity of anticancer drugs and to decrease drug resistance in cancer cells (meaning it helps cancer drugs kill tumors more efficiently). It also protects normal cells from the toxic effects of chemotherapy drugs and radiation treatments. This means that using curcumin in combination with chemotherapy drugs may mean less of the toxic drugs are required, but the results will be better, with significantly reduced side effects.
Turmerones from turmeric oil are unsung heroes. While much attention has been focused on the curcumin content of turmeric, the turmerones in turmeric oil have extraordinary benefits in their own right. Researchers in Hong Kong evaluated the tumor-fighting potential of curcumin and other compounds in turmeric. They found that both curcumin and turmerones inhibited breast and liver cancer cells. In fact, concentrated turmerones inhibited cell proliferation by 70 percent compared to controls in three cancer cell lines. A study at Kyoto University examined the cancer-fighting power of turmerones from turmeric oil and found that the ingredient alone may be “a candidate for colon cancer prevention”, and that combined with curcumin, it could have even stronger synergistic effects. The combination better replicates the way turmeric has been used traditionally, but with a much more concentrated impact.
Grape Seed Extract
A potent tumor inhibitor, grape seed oligomeric proanthocyanidins (OPCs) – components known for their cell-saving properties – have been intensively studied for about 40 years. However, much like curcumin, grape seed OPCs can have variable absorption. Many grape seed extracts contain tannins, which are too big to be absorbed. That’s why I recommend a tannin-free, French grape seed extract with an amazingly powerful antioxidant value of over 2 million per 100 grams. Grape seed OPCs are on the front line of cancer research. Some of the most exciting studies have been done at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. Their research of grape seed extract has shown that this powerful botanical ingredient has the ability to target specific colon cancer cells while leaving healthy cells intact. Colon cancer and its complications are the second-leading cause of cancer-related deaths, so this is a remarkable achievement. Another work examined the effect of grape seed extract on breast carcinoma cells when used alone or with conventional treatment. Their results showed that the two interventions worked well together, but that grape seed extract alone was a strong inhibitor of breast cancer cells. One of the reasons for this is that grape seed extract inhibits aromatase, an enzyme that converts androgen into estrogen. Breast and prostate cancer tissues typically have higher levels of aromatase. A study published in the journal Cancer Research showed that grape seed extract inhibited aromatase activity and reduced growth in MCF-7 breast cancer cells.
Michael Chase, MS, NTP
Nutrition Science and Dietetics