(NaturalHealth365) Zinc is the second most prevalent mineral in the human body, second only to iron. It is essential in the production and function of over 300 enzymes and hormones. But, its link to cancer risk is very interesting.
For example, research out of the University of Texas at Arlington has found that zinc is integral in cancer prevention, particularly cancer of the esophagus. By the way, previous research had determined the importance of zinc and its protective effect for the esophagus; however, scientists were never sure exactly why this was so.
Stopping cancer: Zinc effectively targets cancer cells
Researchers out of the UTA College of Nursing and Health Innovation partnered with an experienced esophageal cancer researcher. Their efforts determined that zinc actually targets esophageal cancer cells while leaving normal cells alone.
It seems that it works by impeding overactive calcium signaling in the cancer cells, which isn’t a problem in normal cells. In this way, zinc inhibits cancer selectively, only in the cells that are exhibiting this behavior.
The research results were published in the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology journal.
Keep in mind, esophageal cancer is the sixth leading most deadly cancer type worldwide, according to the National Cancer Institute. There were around 16,000 deaths from esophageal cancer in the U.S. in 2016. And, (conventionally speaking) the average survival rate after five years is under 20 percent.
Important point: Zinc is crucial for optimal immune function
Zinc deficiency has been noted in numerous cancer patients. This mineral is clearly very important and integral to human health on a variety of levels.
For instance, the absence of zinc due to deficiency can impair cell functioning dramatically, impeding the proper development of numerous key enzymes and proteins. Zinc is also a powerful antioxidant that scavenges and eliminates cell-damaging free radicals.
In addition, a zinc deficiency can lead to a range of different cancer types as well as other diseases. It can also cause memory and cognition issues.
And, as mentioned already, zinc is an essential element of immune system health, T-cell production and functioning – which is the white blood cell that’s so integral in wound healing as well as fighting off invaders, bacteria and disease.
The list of benefits go on and on: zinc is also crucial in thymus gland functioning – another crucial immune system component.
And, finally, a zinc deficiency is linked to anemia, tumor growth, impaired infant development, a higher incidence of pneumonia and diarrhea in infants as well as higher infant mortality rates.
Ultimately, an insufficient amount of zinc can even impair your sense of smell and taste.
Action step: Zinc supplementation can assist with cancer prevention
Foods that are rich in zinc include spinach, oysters, shrimp, flaxseed, pumpkin seeds and beef. However, zinc supplementation can provide a convenient way to ensure that you are getting enough of this essential nutrient.
Supplementation of just 15 mg of zinc daily has been found to improve T-cell functioning and increase the body’s ability to fight infection, according University of Florida researchers. Obviously, as we always suggest, talk to an experienced healthcare provider to determine if you are getting enough of this crucial mineral.
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