The nexus between chlorophyll and cancer is, without a doubt, quite an intriguing one. One on hand, we have oncologists who would swear any day by the potency of this plant-based nutriment. And, on the other, we have captains of industry who have not shied away from expressing their doubt and strong sentiments over the efficacy of chlorophyll in keeping certain cancers at bay. This, of course, can be very rather confusing and perplexing for the common person who is looking for an easy and uncomplicated answer to this quagmire. So, let’s delve right into it.
To understand the association between cancer and chlorophyll, it’s important to shed to first-of-all shed some light on the progression of this disease and how this plant pigment comes into play. Cancer, as you may already know, refers to the abnormal proliferation and growth of faulty cells which eventually crowd out the normally functioning ones leading to a catastrophic organ failure. The genetic changes which influence the onset of cancer tend to revolve around three major types of genes; tumor suppressor genes, proto-oncogenes and DNA repair genes. These changes are at times what your doctor/physician will refer to as ‘drivers’ of cancer.
Further, there are several types of cancer and each of them has a different relationship to chlorophyll which actually ranks as one of the most popular ‘natural cancer remedies’ under study. For starters, there are solid tumour cancers. Under this bracket, experts have isolated many common ailments such as bowel, breast, pancreatic, liver, lung cancer et cetera. The common theme here is usually a swelling or a lump that divides aggressively before spreading to the nearby organ system(s).
Secondly, the other type of cancers is blood or haematological carcinomas. This includes the likes of complications which affect the healthy make up of red blood cells, platelets. white blood cells and the constituents of the lymphatic system. The common problem that features as a characteristic in these types of cancers, referred to as differentiation, acts as the route of all haematological cancers.
So, how do you get cancer? You see, modern human beings have a lifetime of approximately 80 years – give or take a few. However, the cells that constitute the human body rarely live longer than 400 days. Some like skin cells have as short as 2 weeks lifespans. As expected, all old and infirm cells have to be replaced by new cells but the process of replacement is not always perfect. Cancer cells, in this regard, are cells which ( in the process of replication ) accidentally acquired a few peculiar mutations that made them virtually immortal. This means that they will be growing and dividing uncontrollably at the expense of healthy cells.
One of the major reasons most cancers go undetected for long is because these specific mutations don’t occur abruptly but rather over a long cell lineage. In short, the replication errors pile up surreptitiously until they are complex enough to bypass the various internal control systems in place that are programmed to kill off any cell exhibiting potential signs of defects that could lead to cancer down the road. After successfully bypassing the body’s immune response, the cells will divide rapidly further overwhelming any checks or balances such as anti-growth signals and programmed cell death.
How Chlorophyll is Believed to Reduce Cancer Risk
The truth is that the exact or specific causes of cancer are rarely known. What we do have, instead, is a collection of risks that increase or decrease the overall probability of developing cell-based anomalies which then morph into cancer. You probably don’t know this but almost everyone alive has a few hundred cancer cells in their body. The cells, as expected, will not show up in a standard test not until they have multiplied several times to at least a few billion. With a functional immune system, however, the cancer cells are effectively destroyed and prevented from forming tumors before they reach a critical stage.
Going with this argument, cancer is nothing more than an indication of nutritional deficiencies stemming from either dietary, environmental, genetic or lifestyle factors. To overcome these complex nutritional deficiencies, cancer specialists recommended a holistic diet whose aim is to strengthen one’s immunity response – here’s where foods rich in chlorophyll come into the limelight. Some of the most readily available of them are:
- Matcha green tea
- Collard greens
- Mustard greens
- Green cabbage
As far as boosting one’s immunity response goes, this research indicates that this plant pigment ranks among the most potent immune-boosting agents that can be found in nature. This, as a matter of fact, it does by;
i. Stimulating the Production of White Blood Cells
In-depth studies have revealed that chlorophyll is quite instrumental in triggering the part of the bone marrow responsible for the production of healthy white blood cells. One of the numerous roles of these leukocytes is to single out anomalies and defects in replicating cells and initiate cell apoptosis – aka cell death. By killing off these abnormal cells regularly, it lessens the chances of them multiplying then overwhelming other mechanisms that are in place to restrict the onset of malignant tumors. The better the health and shape of your leukocytes, the more effective your anti-cancer cells early warning system is going to work.
Ii. It Improves the Oxygen-Carrying Capacity of Red Blood Cells
Extensive research shows that chlorophyll plays an almost similar role in us as it does in plants. Since its physiological and biochemical structure is similar to that of haemoglobin, then it goes without saying that high levels of it in the bloodstream naturally helps in boosting the oxygen-carrying ability and overall condition of the erythrocytes. This improved circulation plays a huge role in bolstering the body’s internal defense mechanism in the grand scheme of things. The stronger immune system, which is actually a positive knock on effect following the better red blood cells, also implies that your body can detect, isolate and eliminate cancerous cells early enough or long before they multiply to a mass.
Additionally, by participating in the building of a strong haemoglobin and playing a role in the swift purification of one’s bloodstream, chlorophyll remains at the heart of a potent detox process whose mechanism revolves around improving the blood’s oxygen carrying capacity. Thanks to this, you can enjoy a better cleansing rate of the bloodstream, bowel, liver, kidney and other critical organs.
iii. It Inhibits the Mutagenicity of a Range of Potential Carcinogenic Compounds
It is no secret that chlorophyllin inhibits the overall mutagenicity of a variety of certain compounds. Researchers have for long studied the mechanism behind this inhibition using purified samples of this plant pigment and its closely related compounds. Now, considering that mutagens ( especially those with polycyclic planar structures ) are especially more inhibited, it is safe to assume to that the origin behind this inhibition stems from how chlorophyll traps the mutagens through a series of complex biophysical formations whose genesis is the unique planar surface of these types of molecules.
In other words, you can say that chlorophyll allows the body’s system the luxury of not having to combat mutagens by filtering them first from the bloodstream before they become something of a concern. These are the same agents of genetic mutation that are often responsible for the changes in the cell structure that eventually leads to the unregulated and uncontrolled growth also known as cancer. The mutagens are more or less like disease-causing organisms only that this time round the mode of destruction is more biophysical than it is organic.
Unlike disease-causing agents such as viruses and bacterias, mutagens make your cells ‘forget’ that they are supposed to be part of a larger multicellular being, and start acting like a single-celled organism instead. So rather than overseeing a particular role that benefits the person as a whole, the cell starts to act selfishly and belligerently. It now develops the inclination to mass produce as many ‘offsprings’ as possible at the expense of the other surrounding cells, and eventually, the person’s health. And, thanks to the mutagens, it undergoes enough mutation, natural selection and evolution to successfully evade any of the body’s futile attempts to locate and destroy it.
By filtering these mutagens, chlorophyll ensures that your body cells cannot pick up a mutation that alters their cell division rules and regulations. Because if that were to happen, the cell will pass this newly-acquired mutation to all its individual progeny. This will effectively mean that more mutations will accumulate as these cells divide faster and exponentially. The resulting group of cancerous tumor cells will then evolve and behave like a colony of fungi or bacteria thereby making them harder to stop at this stage.
iv. It Promotes Detox and Cleansing
One of major causes of cancer that have been isolated, vetted and proven by medical research over the last couple of decades is exposure to environmental pollutants. And, this includes the likes of toxic metals, aflatoxins, radiation and other carcinogenic agents that are known to instigate the birth of cancer cells.
You see, for cancer to occur, there has to be at least two independent cell mutations. One of them should be in the fueled by the alteration of the proto-oncogenes discussed above while the other one ought to emanate from the change in tumor suppressor genes. The action targeting the proto-oncogenes are solely responsible for the dreaded transition from a normal healthy cell to a ruthlessly cancerous one. One of the ways that these aberrant genes come about is through ‘catalyzed’ mutations that are caused by the environmental factors listed earlier. These external risk factors – such as toxic metals and tobacco – enhance the cell mutation rates sustained in the thick of cell replication.
By binding to the toxic metals, for instance, chlorophyll hampers their absorption rate and nullifies the probability of them catalysing the activation of the aberrant genes to almost zero. A crossover study, as a matter of fact, revealed that chlorophyll’s ability to remove and neutralize ingested carcinogens such as aflatoxin has a efficacy of over 95%. This rapid elimination of potentially carcinogenic and cancer-causing agents is what you need if you are looking to stay healthy for as long as possible.
That being said, the Genetic Toxicological Journal lists chlorophyll as one of the primary aids for thorough organ detoxification, especially the liver. It helps scrape away drug deposits, counteracts toxins/ acids and purifies the blood while at it. It may not seem as much from the surface but this detoxification and modification of the overall metabolism of carcinogens plays a paramount role in hampering the development of cancer. Remember that some of the chemicals that we encounter in our day-to-day lives have to be metabolized to active cancer-causing agents before they are capable of altering the cell DNA or other critical organelles in susceptible tissues. And, that implies that if we can find a way of stopping the metabolism of these procarcinogens to active carcinogens we can successfully prevent the onset of most cancers.
This is exactly what chlorophyll, with a little assistance from the cytochrome P450 enzymes, aims at doing. Wondering how? Well, the action of cytochrome p450 enzymes are a requirement for the activation of most ( if not all ) chemically induced cancers. By inhibiting the action of these enzymes, chlorophyll indirectly prevents the biotransformation of these harmful toxins into carcinogens that are likely to trigger the proto-oncogenes and kickstart the onset of cancer.
v. Fights Oxidative Stress
Believe it or not, the onset of the life of a cancer cell is quite rough. Picture this: In an ocean of natural body defenders and other normal cells, a lone cancer cell has to first hang on to dear life if it has to stand any chance of one day replicating, metastasizing and colonising the whole body. Although the genetic mutations that it has accumulated give it an upper hand in terms of proliferation and lifespan, they are significant obstacles in its path of dominance. One of these obstacles is the old-school competition for resources with normal healthy cells. The cancer cell has to fight for its right for nutrients, in an environment that it is not quite adapted to, against other better equipped normal cells and still evade the ever-vigilant immune system. Hence, a good chunk of newborn cancer cells don’t even get the chance to reproduce.
So, you may ask, why then are cancer cases common and not just a rarity? The answer to that is oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is one of the many external and internal factors that kick in at the infancy stage of a cancer cell and give it a helping hand to evade the body’s natural defense system and help it handle competition for nutrients better. It is a product of the free radicals that are found in many processed foods, household chemicals, cigarette smoke, and a slew of other common pollutants we are regularly exposed to. It undermines the integrity of the harmonious co-integration of the body’s systems making it relatively easy for a cancer cell to cling on to life and start replicating and proliferating aggressively.
By boosting the body’s integrity and metabolism, chlorophyll intentionally lowers the chances of a cancer cell surviving by shifting the balance of power to an unfavorable environment that is likely to kill them off. This way, you may never know that you once had a budding malignant cell in you.