Tocotrienols Help Cancer, Heart Disease, Diabetes

October 23, 2017 | Linda J. Dobberstein, Chiropractor, Board Certified in Clinical Nutrition

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Tocotrienols Help Cancer, Heart Disease, Diabetes
Tocotrienols are a unique form of vitamin E, different than the standard tocopherol form of vitamin E. For more than 25 years, extensive research has been conducted on tocotrienols and the far-reaching benefits they provide. Researchers view tocotrienols as a potential panacea for many diseases due to their powerful ability to manage chronic inflammation. In this article, I highlight just some of the recent research on tocotrienols within the last year. The versatility, depth, and effectiveness of tocotrienols continue to shine. There are some very remarkable findings!

Cancer: Breast, Cervical, Ovarian, Pancreas and Angiogenesis


Current cancer rates demonstrate that one in two men and one in three women will have cancer in their lifetime. In order to find safer, more effective methods of cancer treatments, researchers continue to evaluate the effectiveness of natural substances against various cancer types and pathology, such as breast, cervical, ovarian, and pancreatic cancers and angiogenesis or the development of new blood vessels in cancer cells.

Tocotrienols have been previously shown to be helpful in breast cancer. Indeed, tocotrienols are widely admired and used for their antioxidant properties and anticancer benefits. Promising breast cancer research shows that tocotrienols provide benefit even when cancer cells are resistant to drug treatment.

In the March 2017 issue of Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, researchers found gamma-tocotrienol able to reverse multidrug resistance of MCF-7/Adr breast cancer cells. Cancer cells use various pathways like HMG-CoA reductase and others for their survival and metastasis. This can be a roadblock for treatment and lead to drug-resistance.

This study demonstrated that tocotrienols could inhibit the HMG-CoA reductase path and others used by cancer cells thereby supporting cancer treatment methods. The cholesterol lowering statin drug atorvastatin/Lipitor was also evaluated in this study as it works on the HMG-CoA reductase pathway. Tocotrienols provided a better effect than the statin drug. The HMG-CoA reductase pathway is also involved with cholesterol synthesis. It should be noted here that tocotrienols are helpful in healthy cholesterol management because of their ability to modulate this path.

Another study from October 2017 showed that gamma-tocotrienols are able to stop a signaling mechanism that breast cancer cells use to stimulate cancer cell growth. Other cellular studies on breast cancer and ovarian cancer have shown that when researchers combine tocotrienols and curcumin in a nanoemulsion, these two nutrients became a powerful cancer fighting duo. Tocotrienols provided blocked cancer cell growth and caused cancer cell death. The spice compound curcumin suppressed malignant cell growth and metastasis.

Cervical cancer is cancer of the lower part of the uterus and often caused by the HPV virus. There is limited research on tocotrienols in this arena, but studies published in the last few months demonstrate favorable findings. Research showed that gamma-tocotrienols significantly inhibited cervical cancer cell growth and led to cancer cell death. Researchers deemed gamma-tocotrienols as a potential agent for cervical cancer therapy.

Tocotrienols and other natural compounds like curcumin, resveratrol, EGCG/green tea extract and others demonstrate the ability to block angiogenesis or blood vessel growth. Blocking this process is critical in the fight against cancer, as angiogenesis allows tumors to grow and spread. Researchers find that plant-based compounds like tocotrienols block angiogenesis and improve the transport of drugs into cancer cells with excellent results.

Pancreatic cancer, or pancreatic ductal andenocarcinoma, is one of the most feared diagnoses as it is the fourth leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the U.S. By 2030, it is expected to be the second leading cause of cancer-related death as its prevalence is growing rapidly and medical treatments fail. Research has focused on cancer stems cells as the target in pancreatic cancer as the reason for its deadly progression.

Scientists recently evaluated delta-tocotrienols against cancer stem cells in pancreatic cancer and have found some very promising findings. The study identified that delta-tocotrienols were bio-active against the cancer, delayed progression, and prevented metastasis in mice. When applied to human pancreatic cancer stem cells, results showed that the tocotrienols also inhibited growth and metastasis of these cells.

Heart Disease and Diabetes


More than two decades of research shows the benefit of tocotrienols for cardiovascular and cholesterol health. The results continue to provide evidence of heart healthy support. Tocotrienols have been shown to improve cholesterol levels and lipid profiles. The tocotrienol forms of vitamin E are different than the tocopherol forms of vitamin E. It is the tocotrienol form that demonstrates the ability to block atherosclerosis formation and prevent coronary artery disease.

Blood sugar dysregulation as in prediabetes, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, fatty liver disease, and high blood pressure often leads to heart disease. Once blood sugar dysregulation occurs, it sets a dysfunctional snowball effect into play and complex metabolic problems get locked in. Tocotrienols may be viewed though as a rescuer from these diseases.

Research published in September 2017 provided evidence of the numerous protective effects of tocotrienols against obesity, fatty liver, high fat diets, diabetes, and high blood pressure. In the study, rats were fed a high fat diet for 8 weeks and then treated with high dose tocotrienols for four weeks after the diet challenge. Rather than worsening health parameters, tocotrienol supplementation reversed elevated blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Fatty liver build-up declined. Antioxidant status improved and hemoglobin A1C levels/blood sugar levels reduced.

Other studies show tocotrienols may have a great therapeutic potential to prevent vascular disease in obesity. Review studies state that tocotrienols provide superior support over tocopherols forms of vitamin E for cholesterol-lowering, systemic and adipose tissue inflammation, and antioxidant support in metabolic syndrome, obesity, and diabetes.

Tocotrienols Support Bone Health


Osteoporosis is often attributed to loss of hormones and age, in both men and women. Women especially experience the medical profession’s push of using HRT/bioidentical hormones and Fosamax to help their bones. Recent research demonstrates that tocotrienols support biomechanical strength in bones and prevent loss of calcium in bones even when testosterone and estrogen are deficient. Rather than going the route of hormone replacement therapy and the issues it raises, tocotrienols certainly offer substantial protection against osteoporosis. Gamma tocotrienols assist bone strength and are effective bone builders without the adverse effects of Fosamax and bisphosphonates.

Tocotrienols and Other Remarkable Findings


The list of disorders that tocotrienols provides benefit for can go on and on. Here are some other findings from the last year alone. Tocotrienols help reduce pathological build-up of amyloid beta linked with Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative disorders. Tocotrienols also block DNA damage that leads to cognitive impairment.

Respiratory disorders like emphysema/COPD and asthma improve with tocotrienols usage. A study released September 2017 found that tocotrienols proved superior over steroids for protection against emphysema and lung function in COPD. Other information shows tocotrienols buffer against airway remodeling caused by asthma.

Acute and chronic skin damage from UV radiation may benefit by tocotrienol usage. We have often used tocotrienols with acute sunburns and have found it quite helpful. It may be used orally or applied topically as desired.

Sarcopenia is loss of muscle mass due to aging. Cellular studies show that tocotrienols protect against the oxidative stress in muscle cells that causes loss of muscle mass. Tocotrienols may be used with other support like whey protein and HIIT/High Intensity Interval Training or strength training exercise to help build muscles.

An August 2017 study should have made headline news about the benefits of tocotrienols outweighing acid blocker medications for stomach ulcers. This animal study compared omeprazole/Prilosec to tocotrienols for stress-induced stomach ulcers. The tocotrienol-treated group had a better outcome with tissue repair than the Prilosec group. Tocotrienols provided similar ulcer reduction as the drug.

Lastly, there were two neurological studies that piqued my curiosity and attest to tocotrienols’ powerful benefits. White matter lesions are often reported on brain MRI scans of patients. Many times practitioners call this an artifact and may be dismissed. White matter lesions reflect pinpoint areas of oxidative stress in the brain. Research shows that tocotrienols are able to reduce the size of white matter lesions in human clinical trials. The second study focused on spinal cord injury in animals. In this July 2017 study, it was found that tocotrienols protected against spinal cord injury and suppressed oxidative stress, inflammation and iNOS or inflammatory nitric oxide. Information like this should be shared with all who participate in contact sports and hopefully even provide risk reduction.

At the conclusion of many these studies, researchers often remark that more studies are needed. However, there is a substantial track record that tocotrienols are quite remarkable. When learning about tocotrienols, it is easy to see why some scientists have described this form of vitamin E as a potential cure-all for many disorders. Tocotrienols are found in rice bran and palm oils, which today’s diets often lack. Consider taking high quality tocotrienols for their amazing health benefits.

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