Zinc Could Be a Game Changer for Esophageal Cancer

Zinc Could Be a Game Changer for Esophageal Cancer

By Admin at 4 Apr 2018, 09:32 AM

 

Zinc, an essential mineral, plays a crucial role in cellular metabolism, immune function, wound healing, cell division and more. Your body has no zinc storage system, so you must consume it daily in order to ensure your body gets enough. [1] Zinc deficiency has been linked to many forms of cancer, including esophageal cancer, and new research suggests this mineral may also help prevent and treat the disease.

Researchers from the University of Texas at Arlington (UTA) found that zinc inhibits Orai1, a calcium channel known to contribute to cancer cell growth, thereby stopping the cells from growing and dividing. [2] It did not stop the growth of normal esophageal epithelial cells, however. Zui Pan, an associate professor of nursing at UTA's College of Nursing and Health Innovation, said in a news release:[3]

 

“Our study, for the first time to our knowledge, reveals that zinc impedes overactive calcium signals in cancer cells, which is absent in normal cells, and thus zinc selectively inhibits cancer cell growth … It now appears that zinc and calcium can have a cross talk, meaning that they can be linked."

 

The researchers believe zinc supplements may be effective in both treating and preventing esophageal cancer, although further research is needed for them to develop such strategies. They also stressed the importance of eating a healthy, zinc-rich diet.

Good dietary sources of zinc include oysters, red meat, poultry, beans, nuts, crab, lobster, whole grains and dairy products. It’s recommended that adult men consume 11 milligrams (mg) of zinc daily while women consume 8 mg. For comparison, 3 ounces of beef roast contain about 7 mg of zinc while one-half chicken breast (skin removed) contains about 0.9 grams (the same amount found in 1 ounce of almonds).[4]

In the U.S., about 17,290 new cases of esophageal cancer are estimated to be diagnosed in 2018, according to the American Cancer Society, and 15,850 will die from the disease.[5] Only about 20 percent of patients survive for at least five years after diagnosis, which is why new treatments are urgently needed.

“Zinc deficiency has been found in many cancer patients,” Pan said. “Both clinical data and animal studies have shown that this mineral is very important for overall body health and for cancer prevention.”[6] If you’re wondering whether you’re getting enough zinc, most U.S. adults get adequate amounts via their diet, however certain populations may be at risk of not getting enough. If any of the following apply to you, you may want to talk to your doctor about adding a zinc supplement to your diet:

  • You have ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease or sickle cell disease
  • You’ve had gastrointestinal surgery, such as weight loss surgery
  • You’re a vegetarian
  • You’re an alcoholic, as alcoholic beverages decrease how much zinc your body absorbs

 

 Sources

1. National Institutes of Health, Office of Dietary Supplements, Zinc
2. The FASEB Journal September 19, 2017
3. University of Texas at Arlington September 27, 2017
4. National Institutes of Health, Office of Dietary Supplements, Zinc
5.  American Cancer Society, Key Statistics for Esophageal Cancer
6. University of Texas at Arlington September 27, 2017


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