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Vitamin K Delivers Kick to Cancer Risk

Vitamin K Sources Have Cancer Preventive Properties

German researchers find link between low consumption of vitamin K2 and cancer (lung cancer, specifically).

All the rage these days in the health world is the importance of getting a daily dose of vitamin D in your diet, whether it’s through the foods you fix or the sun you soak.  As a result, other vitamins have been given short shrift.

Well what better way to reacquaint oneself with other vitamins than with a study that says increasing one’s vitamin K intake can lower cancer risk?

Now, before I get into the guts of the study, this is not to suggest that eating cabbage with every meal will somehow prevent cancer.  But what the study does suggest is that certain sources of vitamin K are more cancer preventive than others.

About a year ago, I wrote about the differences between vitamin K1 and vitamin K2. I wrote about vitamin K2 being a more nutritious form of vitamin K than it’s partner in nutrition, vitamin K1, but at that point vitamin K2 was being hailed for its link to bone and cartilage development.  So, runners and people battling arthritis were encouraged to eat sources of vitamin K2.

This time, however, vitamin K2 is being hailed for its cancer-prevention prowess.

Researchers from the German Cancer Research Center in Heidelberg, Germany discovered its cancer-fighting effects after analyzing the results of a 10-year study that involved approximately 24,300 adults.  All of the adults – between the ages of 35 and 64 – were cancer free at the outset.

That fact changed 10 years later.  By the end of the study, approximately 1,800 men and women were diagnosed with cancers of various kinds, with just less than one-fourth of them dying from their disease.

But when researchers looked at the decedents’ dieting patterns, as well as those who remained cancer free throughout the study period, they saw some patterns.

For instance, among those who ate vitamin K2 rich foods, they were 28 percent less likely to be among those who died of cancer.  But when researchers looked at people who had the lowest vitamin K2 intake, they were almost 50 percent more likely to have been diagnosed with lung cancer (the most commonly diagnosed cancer there is, by the way).

Comparatively, those who had the highest vitamin K2 intake, they were less than half a percent more likely to have lung cancer.

Findings were similar among other commonly diagnosed cancers (e.g. prostate):  the more vitamin K2 eaten, the less likely they were to develop cancer.

Coincidence?  Perhaps.  The researchers are loath to suggest definitively that it’s the vitamin K2 that did it because most of the participants who ate lots of vitamin K2 got it from cheese primarily.  Thus, it could another aspect of cheese that makes it so cancer friendly.

The study is published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Now, as most of you know, I’m not an extremist when it comes to nutrition.  Virtually everything high in calories can be enjoyed so long as it’s in moderation.

Thus, while cheese is pretty high in saturated fat and cholesterol, there are enough good things in cheese to make it a healthful food when eaten in moderation.

But there are other healthy sources of vitamin K2 that you don’t have to scrimp on.  One of them is natto, which, like cheese, is a fermented food (vitamin K2 primarily comes from fermented foods).  I’ve never eaten natto, but seeing as how the Japanese have eaten it for well over a thousand years—a culture that is known for its long lifespan and healthy dieting habits—it’s clearly a food worth trying.

And who knows?  One bite may make you nutso for natto!


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