Tocotrienols And Cancer Tocotrienols And Cancer For many years, studies of vitamin E produced inconsistent results regarding its effect on cancer. It is now thought that this inconsistency was likely due to the widespread use of alpha-tocopherol alone in such studies.8 We now know that alpha-tocopherol has weak anticancer activity, while tocotrienols are more potent cancer-preventive agents.8-10 In a recent finding that stunned researchers, tocotrienol supplementation was found to dramatically extend the life span of mice with pancreatic cancer.8 Pancreatic cancer is among the most aggressive and deadly human cancers, with survival times typically counted only in months.11,12 The 2013 study showed that after 16 weeks of treatment, just 10% of placebo-treated mice remained alive, while 30% survived in a group treated with gemcitabine, a standard chemotherapy drug. However, a remarkable 70% of mice had survived in the tocotrienol group. Combination treatment with gemcitabine and tocotrienols produced a remarkable 90% survival rate.1 Tocotrienols are the ultimate multi-targeting nutrient when it comes to cancer. Their actions affect virtually every step in the progression of cancer.13 They share antioxidant effects with tocopherols, but there seems to be a considerable amount of anticancer action that is unrelated to antioxidant actions.13,14 PROPOSED MECHANISMS OF TOCOTRIENOLS IN CANCER PREVENTION13 Effect Result Apoptosis (programmed cell death) Tumor-cell death Cell cycle arrest Slows tumor growth Inhibit new blood vessel growth (angiogenesis) Starves tumor of nutrients and oxygen Inhibit HMG-CoA reductase enzyme Inhibits metastasis65 Decreases expression of cancer causing genes Prevents initiation of cancer Increases the expression of genes that suppress cancer Prevents initiation and progression of cancer Proposed Mechanisms Of Tocotrienols In Cancer Prevention Tocotrienols impact several factors that tumors need for their development and growth. Tocotrienols have been shown to inhibit the growth of new blood vessels to rapidly growing tumors and inhibit growth and proliferation of cancer cells.9,15 Tocotrienols also sensitize cancer cells to the effects of standard chemotherapy, and astonishingly, appear capable of combating cancer stem cells, which are highly resistant to standard chemotherapy and contribute to cancer recurrences.9 They also blunt the impact of chemical carcinogens in animal studies.16 Tocotrienols also trigger apoptosis, which is the programmed cancer cell death that can prevent a tumor from ever getting a toe-hold in the body. Apoptosis is also vital in shrinking existing tumors, a factor that may account for the growing use of tocotrienols (alone or with conventional chemotherapy drugs) in patients with existing cancers.14,17 Tocotrienols have another rather unusual mechanism for fighting cancer. They appear to block an enzyme that cancer cells need for invasion and metastasis. This enzyme, called HMG-CoA reductase, is the same enzyme blocked by statin drugs.2 In fact, the combination of tocotrienols with the statin drug atorvastatin (Lipitor®) was recently shown to greatly increase inhibition of cancer cell growth.18 WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW Breakthrough Research On Tocotrienols Breakthrough Research On Tocotrienols Typical vitamin E supplements contain only alpha-tocopherol, the best known member of the eight-member vitamin E family. But tocopherols, while important nutrients, lack some of the additional benefits offered by their cousins, the tocotrienols. By virtue of small but important structural differences, tocotrienols can get more involved in profound biological processes, such as modulating gene expressions and regulating vital enzyme functions. Tocotrienols have potent anticancer and anti-diabetes abilities, as well as cardio-, neuro-, liver-, and bone-protective actions based on their unique functions in the body. It is now apparent that studies showing little or no effect from vitamin E supplementation failed in part because they used only alpha-tocopherol, rather than also including other tocopherols and tocotrienol. Regards Dr Sandeep Roy MD (Practice of Medicine) AEMT (Germany) Consulting Integrative Oncology Physcian. Chairman, Indian Institute of Integrative Oncology. .