Tocotrienols and Cancer Cells

By: Byron J. Richards, Board Certified Clinical Nutritionist

Western Medicine is desperately searching for compounds that can help trigger the death signal in cancer cells – and it appears they are now actively researching the natural toolbox as the tocotrienol form of vitamin E may be a superstar.

Tocotrienols are a superior form of vitamin E due to the biological activity of their side chain molecule which is an isoprenoid called farnesol.  Isoprenoids occur widely in fresh fruit, vegetables, and grains and are believed to be the reason diets rich in such foods are associated with lower cancer rates.  Tocotrienols are a high source of isoprenoids – especially the unique one they possess – as farnesol is a direct communication molecule within cells.  We are just beginning to understand the role of farnesol in human health and disease.

I have previously summarized the dramatic findings on the tocotrienol form of vitamin E for cardiovascular and immune support.  While cancer researchers have been looking into combining tocotrienols with other cancer therapies for some time – this research is now heating up.  Central to the issue is how to get cancer cells to die without killing the person.  Most cancer drugs work on a principle of toxicity, and the hope is that the drugs will kill cancer before weakening the individual too much.  This approach can be successful and has obvious limitations.

Tocotrienols possess a rather astounding ability.  They are the great protectors of healthy cells and never bother them.  On the other hand they can tell when a cell has gone wrong, including a cancer cell, and can facilitate its death.  Last year this dramatic finding led US researchers to conclude that combining tocotrienols with cancer drugs1 for patients with drug-resistant forms of cancer offers tremendous hope for many individuals with different types of cancer. 

A new study further backs up this new area of tocotrienol research2, a true bright spot of hope for many.  While I like tocotrienols as a top cardiovascular support nutrient, it is nice to know they also help keep your cells in tip top working condition.  Tocotrienols are a superior antioxidant and work synergistically with other antioxidants to protect your health.

Referenced Studies:
  1. ^ Tocotrienols Support the Cancer Battle  Vitam Horm.   Sylvester PW.
  2. ^ Tocotrienols and Cancer Research  Int J Cancer.  Constantinou C, Papas A, Constantinou AI.

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