New Findings on Nutrition and Cancer – InVite Health Podcast, Episode 501

New Findings on Nutrition and Cancer – InVite Health Podcast, Episode 501


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New Findings on Nutrition and Cancer – InVite Health Podcast, Episode 501

Hosted by Jerry Hickey, Ph.

*Intro music*

InVite Health Podcast Intro: Welcome to the InVite Health Podcast, where our degreed healthcare professionals are excited to offer you the most important health and wellness information you need to make informed choices about your health. You can learn more about the products discussed in each of these episodes and all that InVite Health has to offer at First time customers can use promo code PODCAST at checkout for an additional 15% off your first purchase. Let’s get started!

*Intro music*

Jerry Hickey, Ph.: [00:00:41] Recently, there’s been some very interesting findings in the field of cancer and nutrition, and I’d like to review that quickly for you today. So welcome to my episode, New Findings on Nutrition and Cancer. My name is Jerry Hickey. I’m a nutritional pharmacist. I’m also the Senior Scientific Officer over here at InVite Health. By the way, you could find all of our episodes on any place you’re listening to your podcasts, but also at Please subscribe and leave us a review. You can also find us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram at @invitehealth. All of the information on today’s episode will be linked up to episode description, so let me review this. It’s very, very interesting stuff.† [00:01:26]

[00:01:29] The first report is on the mineral magnesium and magnesium specifically in its relationship with the immune system and with cancer. That’s from scientists at the University of Cambridge in the UK and the University of Basel in Switzerland. And magnesium… there would be different ways that magnesium would influence the immune system in a positive fashion. First of all, there’s a lot of data that cancer patients who have sufficient Vitamin D levels, they survive cancer much better. And you need magnesium to activate Vitamin D, so that’s very interesting and very important. In fact, there’s receptor sites on many immune cells for Vitamin D and these immune cells can activate Vitamin D. And then Vitamin D affects a whole bunch of genes that help govern the immune system. So Vitamin D is important for fighting infections, but it’s also important for fighting cancer. Plus, Vitamin D reduces inflammation, and cancer uses inflammation as a springboard to energy so it can grow and spread. So once again, there’s an important interaction between magnesium, which is needed to activate Vitamin D. Secondly, you need magnesium, the mineral magnesium, to release melatonin at night. If you don’t release melatonin at night, or if you release insufficient levels of melatonin, your immune system just doesn’t work well. That’s just not working at the appropriate time. And last of all, in my opinion, magnesium is also needed to stabilize energy. When you eat food and you breathe in oxygen, a lot of that goes towards the Krebs citric acid cycle, where you’re turning sugar into energy. And once you have that energy, it’s a molecule called ATP. It’s a nucleotide called ATP, that’s responsible for almost all your energy. You need to stabilize it by attaching magnesium to it. Otherwise, it’s going to just flare up and be used up before you can even get any benefit out of it. So 90% of your energy is attached to the mineral magnesium. So there’s different ways that magnesium can influence the immune system because if you don’t have enough energy, the immune system is a high energy group of cells, if they don’t have enough energy, they’re not going to do a great job of fighting for you. So the scientists at Cambridge University and University of Basel, they discovered that your killer T cells can only kill cancer cells or fight infections if they’re in the presence of sufficient magnesium. So if there’s not enough magnesium near these T cells, not enough of them are going to be activated.  [00:04:24]

[00:04:26] Now, looking at other clinical trials using cancer immunotherapies, they found that lower levels of magnesium in the blood serum led to more rapid growth and spread of the cancer and shortened survival of the patient. Magnesium’s involved in over 600 chemical reactions in the human body. It’s very important for your metabolism, and many of these reactions involve your immune system and immune system functions and immunity.† [00:04:58]

[00:04:59] So what’s a natural killer cell? You have basically two parts of the immune system the innate immune system, which is not educated. It’s just kind of like a blunt force, blunt force trauma against germs and cancer, but it has to be guided. And then there is the acquired immune system, which is educated. It’s like an intelligent part of the immune system and that consists of B cells, which have antibodies, plus antibodies and other places. Antibodies fit an infection specifically. So when you have antibodies against COVID-19, they fight COVID-19, they don’t fight the flu. And when you have antibodies against the flu, they fight the flu. They don’t fight COVID-19. So antibodies are part of the acquired immune system, which is like the intelligent part of the immune system and then natural killer cells, which are really cool cells, they kind of have a little bit of a memory, a short-term memory, and, see, they kind of fill a gap, natural killer cells. The first part of the immune system to attack an infection, and this part doesn’t work very well in adults, is the innate immune system with neutrophils. They’re also called polymorphonuclear leukocytes. We kind of don’t have great functioning neutrophils when you’re older, but they kind of handle the infection for, let’s make believe three days. You know, it’s hard to say exactly, but three days, then they start to peter out. They get fatigued. The natural killer cells bridge the gap between when they’re starting to not function as well and when you have enough time to make antibodies, antibodies specific for the infection, which can take a week, 10 days.† [00:06:31]


[00:06:33] So the the acquired immune system’s really important and then there’s the T cells. The T cells shred infections, the T cells shred cancer tumors, cancerous tumors and cancerous cells if they know where it is. So many of the new or very advanced therapies for cancer take a sample of your cancer. See, every cancer has different mutations that are a signature for that specific cancer. So if you had 100 men in a room with prostate cancer, every one of those cancers would have different mutations. So they train… They take out your T cells and they train them to look at the mutations in your particular cancer. And then they load you up with those T cells and those T cells can recognize the cancer, hunt it down and kill it. But it turns out these killer T cells require, they require the presence of magnesium for them to really work. So if you’re lacking magnesium, even though you have these killer T cells, they don’t have the energy to do their job. So this is really important data.† [00:07:44]

[00:07:45] Now here’s a second study. It’s in the journal Cancer. It’s the University of Buffalo, the University of Buffalo School of Public Health and the University of Buffalo School of Pharmaceutical Sciences. And they found that 68% of cancer survivors report that they use nutritional supplements. Now, that’s really important data because they found that the cancer survivors that use nutritional supplements, they survive better, they survive the cancer better, they live longer and they live cancer-free longer, apparently. But they also had lower rates for hospitalizations, and they also had a better quality of life. So what’s a better quality of life? You know, having the energy to go outside and be active, having the energy to be social, having good brain function, that sort of thing. Quality of life, what makes your life worth living. That was a 10-year period that they watched these cancer survivors. And they found that the supplements basically cost about a dollar a day, but here’s what they found. Because the supplements kept people out of the hospital, it was a lot less expensive to use the supplements than not use the supplements because one trip to the hospital cost more than the supplements. So the people on the supplements had a lower rate of hospitalization and they survived better and they had a better life, better quality of life.† [00:09:09]

[00:09:10] So there are nutrients that we know work very well in cancer patients to begin with, but also in cancer survivors. One of them is Vitamin D. The Vitamin D helps reduce inflammation. Cancer feeds off inflammation to get the energy to grow and spread and the wherewithal to grow and spread. But Vitamin D is also needed for activating and guiding specific immune cells, so people who have sufficient Vitamin D over the course of their cancer treatment tend to do better, but they also survive better. They’ve seen this with a number of different cancers, including breast cancer, certain leukemias, prostate cancer. I believe colon cancer, but I’d have to double check that one. And you want your Vitamin D level, ideally between like 45 and 65. Like 55 is a beautiful, beautiful level of Vitamin D in your blood.† [00:10:01]

[00:10:02] Another supplement that there’s a good amount of research that is helping cancer patients is a good probiotic. Look for strains such as Lactobacillus plantarum, Lactobacillus ramnosis, bifidobacterium animalis subspecies lactis. These are really important for immune system function. So there’s a number of studies now that are showing that cancer treatment works better in the presence of these healthy bacteria and survival seems to be better also. [00:10:29]


[00:10:31] Other supplements that may be helpful: magnesium that needs more work, but it certainly seems to be something. If your, if your killer cells, you, your killer T cells, require magnesium to function, that makes it very important for treating cancer. And then some people melatonin, because melatonin is needed for a properly-functioning immune system. So if you’re not sleeping at night, you can have a doctor check the level of melatonin metabolites in your urine the next morning. And if it’s low, you probably need melatonin, that should help the body fight cancer. There’s a lot of evidence building, there’s a good archive of it actually, that people who lack melatonin have a higher risk of a whole bunch of cancers.† [00:11:13]

[00:11:15] Beyond that, certain foods like green tea. But here’s a caveat. Don’t put milk in green tea. There’s some evidence it doesn’t work as well with milk. Put some lemon in there. Put some kind of citrus in there. The citrus ingredients shield the delicate polyphenols in green tea from your digestive enzymes in your stomach acids and you absorb more of them and they’re intact, so you’ll get a better return for your health if you do that with your green tea. But green tea in many ways helps fight cancer, so people who survive cancer come see me, I say, “Well, listen, you have to do green tea.” I also tell them to eat a lot of berries, dark berries and apples, and maybe even some high quality cocoa, even some red grapes. Or take some resveratrol because the anthocyanins and the flavan-3-ols are very healthy for their brain and their heart and their immune system, survival in general. I told them, have cabbage vegetables about five times a week. Cabbage vegetables could be bok choy, broccoli rabe, kale, collard greens. I don’t normally tell them Brussels sprouts because that can have a lot of heavy metals in it. So I don’t normally tell them Brussels sprouts, but broccoli itself, cabbage because there’s a whole bunch of things in cabbage vegetables that the good bacteria in your intestines convert into cancer-fighting nutrients like there’s isothiocyanates that convert to sulforaphane. There’s glucuronic acid. There’s indole-3-carbinol, which converts to diindolylmethane. All these are cancer fighters. However, there’s a caveat with cabbage vegetables, too. If you eat them raw, they can block your thyroid function. They can decrease your thyroid function, which is not good for the immune system. But if you cook them, you get rid of the things that affect the thyroid, they’re called goitrogens. But even cooked, I wouldn’t have them more than five days a week. So cabbage vegetables five days a week help in the fight against cancer and viruses, not a bad thing. A multivitamin is always helpful.† [00:13:22]

[00:13:23] So thanks for listening to my episode today. You can find all of our episodes wherever you listen to podcasts or just go to You can also find us on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook @invitehealth. Please subscribe and leave us a review. I want to thank you for listening, and this is Jerry Hickey signing off. By the way, if you’re going to use supplements during your treatment for cancer, you really have to pass that by your oncologist, the doctor managing your cancer for approval because there’s different forms of cancer treatment, and we would never want to interfere with them, even though that would be not very likely. It’s still important to check this with the doctor.† [00:13:23]

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