Zinc Deficiency Leads to Increased Inflammation and Risk for Cancer
Tuesday, October 02, 2012
Board Certified Clinical Nutritionist Byron J. Richards,
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Researchers from the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University have shown that zinc is needed to properly regulate anti-inflammatory signals from immune cells. A lack of zinc during aging was shown to increase overall inflammation and risk for disease.
“The elderly are the fastest growing population in the U.S. and are highly vulnerable to zinc deficiency,” said Emily Ho, an LPI principal investigator. “They don’t consume enough of this nutrient and don’t absorb it very well. We’ve previously shown in both animal and human studies that zinc deficiency can cause DNA damage, and this new work shows how it can help lead to systemic inflammation. Some inflammation is normal, a part of immune defense, wound healing and other functions. But in excess, it’s been associated with almost every degenerative disease you can think of, including cancer and heart disease. It appears to be a significant factor in the diseases that most people die from.”
“We found that the mechanisms to transport zinc are disrupted by age-related epigenetic changes,” said Carmen Wong, co-author of this study. “This can cause an increase in DNA methylation and histone modifications that are related to disease processes, especially cancer. Immune system cells are also particularly vulnerable to zinc deficiency.”
Even though animals in the study had adequate dietary zinc intake, they were not able to utilize it properly until researchers gave them 10 times the normal daily requirement. They found that zinc was needed to run a particular gene signal called the suppressors of cytokine signaling (SOCS), which turns off inflammation.
The best forms of zinc for supplementation are zinc picolinate and zinc citrate, the forms readily absorbed by the human digestive tract. Even so, this study indicates that higher amounts are most likely needed during aging. Amounts can be from 50 mg to 75 mg for women and up to 100 mg for men, depending on stress level, which uses zinc up, sweating, which causes zinc loss, and dietary intake, which is often low.
Extra zinc is often needed in the winter months to offer extra immune support.
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