11 nutritional supplements that can reduce cancer risk from alcohol consumption
(Naturalhealth365) Although research has shown that small to moderate amounts of alcohol can offer some benefits to the heart, drinking is by no means an unmitigated blessing when it comes to your health. In fact, a European study has shown that drinking – even in amounts as modest as one to two drinks a day – increases the odds of certain cancers. But, if you were to drink alcohol, can nutritional supplements really help to protect our liver and overall vitality?
The simple answer is YES! But, just to be clear, this should not give us a license to drink as much as we like. Having said that, let’s look at which nutritional supplements help to reduce our cancer risk.
How consuming the right nutritional supplements can help to minimize the unwanted side effects of drinking alcohol
Ethanol alcohol breaks down in the body to acetaldehyde – the compound responsible for the unpleasant hangover that follows excessive alcohol consumption.
However, acetaldehyde can cause more than morning-after headaches and shakiness. This toxic compound also binds to DNA, and can cause mutations that trigger cancer. In addition, it creates reactive oxygen species that cause inflammation and promote tumor development.
And, finally, acetaldehyde depletes stores of essential vitamins – while interfering with the body’s natural antioxidant defense systems.
Obviously, when it comes to minimizing harm from alcohol consumption, nutritional supplements that help to detoxify acetaldehyde can be quite helpful.
What N-acetyl-cysteine does to acetaldehyde
A derivative of the amino acid cysteine, N-acetyl-cysteine – or NAC – binds to acetaldehyde, helping to cancel out its harmful effects. At the same time, it performs the very important function of boosting levels of glutathione, the body’s premier antioxidant.
NAC – which is the “go-to” therapy in Western medicine for treating acetaminophen overdose – is most useful when taken before alcohol ingestion, but can also be beneficial when taken afterwards.
The value of B-complex vitamins
Research has shown that drinking alcohol depletes vitamin B-6 (or pyridoxine) and B-1(or thiamine), a pair of nutrients needed for fighting oxidation. Alcohol also interferes with folic acid, a form of vitamin B-9 – which suppresses dangerous cancer genes called proto-oncogenes – which is why nutritional supplements are often times a good way to minimize the danger.
Studies have shown that getting sufficient amounts of B-6 and folic acid can reduce your chances of getting cancer by a significant 41 percent. Many natural health experts advise protecting your nervous system by taking a B-complex supplement (plus 100 mg of thiamine) on the days you use alcohol.
Benfotiamine protects our cells
A fat-soluble form of thiamine, benfotiamine – a potent antioxidant — deserves special mention when it comes to protecting against cell damage and neutralizing harm caused by acetaldehyde. Benfotiamine increases thiamine status much more effectively than thiamine alone after alcohol use.
Chlorophyllin is great for the liver
Chlorophyllin is the water-soluble form of chlorophyll, the green pigment found in plants. This natural compound has impressed researchers with its chemopreventive actions, especially in populations at high risk for liver cancer – which is frequently caused by excess alcohol consumption.
Like NAC, chlorophyllin binds to carcinogens and toxins – helping to flush them from the body before they can damage DNA.
Silymarin improves liver function
Silymarin is the active ingredient in milk thistle, an herbal remedy with proven ability to promote liver cell regeneration and enhance detoxification. One of silymarin’s secret weapons is its ability to inhibit the conversion of ethanol to acetaldehyde; another is its capacity to protect DNA from cancer-inducing damage – particularly where alcohol use is involved.
Resveratrol is designed to protect the heart and prevent cancer
This disease-fighting antioxidant polyphenol is found in grapes, cranberries and red wine. Perhaps best known for promoting heart health, resveratrol also fights cancer by protecting and repairing damaged cell DNA before cancerous changes can occur.
In a review published in Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, researchers concluded that resveratrol can block the development of cancer at multiple stages.
Selenium is an essential trace mineral
Selenium, an essential trace mineral with antioxidant capabilities, has been shown in studies to reduce the formation of precancerous tissue. Regular alcohol use can reduce selenium – and studies have shown that people with low selenium levels are at increased risk of liver and colon cancer.
On the other hand, people with the highest levels of selenium can reduce their risk of liver cancer by an impressive 50 percent.
Barley grass extracts protect the gut
Barley grass contains a specific cancer-suppressing protein known as lunasin, and scientists have found that extracts from this fiber-rich grain can prevent laboratory-induced gastrointestinal tumors in animals.
Barley grass is also a prebiotic that provides food for beneficial bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract and helps to discourage colon cancer.
Don’t forget the power of vitamin C
Vitamin C is depleted by alcohol use – depriving the body of the exact nutrient it could use to minimize drinking’s negative effects. This water-soluble nutrient is a potent antioxidant that can protect brain cells from the toxic effects of alcohol – while reducing pro-inflammatory substances that are increased by alcohol’s toxic metabolites.
In addition, vitamin C helps to recycle antioxidant vitamin E – which blocks harmful lipid peroxidation in the liver and brain.
Grape seed extracts
Grape seed extracts are high in proanthocyanins – powerful antioxidants with multiple health benefits.
In addition, animal studies have shown that grape seed extracts can prevent alcohol-induced oxidative damage to tissues and cells. Grape seed extracts are highly bioavailable – meaning they can go to work easing potentially cancer-causing alcohol-related damages immediately.
An essential amino acid that supports the liver, methionine is also responsible for the creation of SAMe, or s-adenolsylmethionine – which helps restore antioxidant glutathione in alcohol-damaged cells.
Methionine – especially in conjunction with folate and vitamins B6 and B12 – may help treat liver disease.
You can raise your dietary levels of methionine by eating cage-free egg whites, wild-caught fish such as salmon, and organic Brazil nuts.
Of course, this list of helpful nutritional supplements isn’t meant to promote alcoholic consumption. (Non-alcoholic beverages, such as smoothies, can be just as festive and refreshing as their alcoholic counterparts – if not more). But, if you are going to indulge in a cocktail or two, these natural substances can help neutralize any damage. (Here’s to your health and happiness – always!)
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Sources for this article include:
About the author: Jonathan Landsman is the host of NaturalHealth365.com, the NaturalHealth365 Talk Hour – a free, weekly health show – and the NaturalHealth365 INNER CIRCLE, a monthly subscription to the brightest minds in natural health and healing.
Reaching hundreds of thousands of people, worldwide, as a personal health consultant, writer and radio talk show host, Jonathan has been educating the public on the health benefits of an organic, non-GMO diet along with high-quality supplementation and healthy lifestyle habits, including exercise and meditation.
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