Is IP-6 a cure for cancer?

Is IP-6 a cure for cancer?

IP-6, or inositol hexaphosphate, an antioxidant found in high fibre foods, may slow down the production of cancer cells, inhibiting cancers such as prostate cancer and breast cancer by blocking several pathways including P13K-Akt, crucial to cancer development and it also may improve chemotherapy effectiveness and reduce side-effects.

IP-6 and Prostate cancer

In 2010, Dr. Mallikarjuna Gu at the University of Colorado Cancer Center found that inositol hexaphosphate (IP-6, or phytic acid), a naturally occurring compound found in high fibre foods and supplements could block P13K-Akt, a core cancer pathway, both in Petri dishes and in animals with prostate cancer. Gu and his team had found a major target to restrict cancer progression (1).

Leader of the Cancer Center’s program on treatment and prevention, Dr. Rajesh Agarwal said that inositol, a B vitamin, which is found in high fibre foods such as nuts, seeds, grains, lentils and other legumes, may explain why those people who eat high fibre diets develop less cancers. IP-6 is not exactly the same as inositol, although it too is naturally occurring in the same foods; it is an inositol molecule with 6 phosphate groups attached.

Indeed, some of the best results with arresting cancer progression occurred when the research team used both inositol and IP-6 together. One of the best natural sources of IP-6 is found in rice-bran extract.

This was not the first time IP-6 had shown benefit with prostate cancer. Agarwal and Rana Singh in the same centre had shown that oral supplementation of IP-6  inhibited cancer growth, progression and signaling in mice models in a pilot study. IP-6 was also shown to target angiogenesis - blood supply to tumours (6).

IP-6 slows down cancer spread

Even WebMD, a website from the Pharmaceutical companies, is quite clear: "IP-6 might help treat and prevent cancer by slowing down the production of cancer cells. It might also bind to certain minerals decreasing the risk of colorectal cancer. It is an antioxidant." 

A second study (2) showed that in cells where the p53 gene was deficient (about 50% of all cancer cells), two controlling genes (p21 and p27) played no role but IP-6 still showed its anti-cancer effect.

In 2016, scientists found that inositol polyphosphates were highly complex signaling molecules and that resultant IP-6 kinases played an important cellular regulatory role (3).

IP-6 enhances chemotherapy, reduces side-effects

An early study (4) had shown that IP-6 enhances the effect of chemotherapy against cancer cells.

Breast cancer - As long ago as 2003, scientists from Maryland School of Medicine found that IP-6 enhances the effects of Adriamycin and Tamoxifen in breast cancer treatment (8). If supplements were given before the Adriamycin the drug was more effective. Supplementation of IP-6 + inositol was  also capable of working on its own to stop progression.

In 2010 the same beneficial result was found in breast cancer with Doxorubicin (5)In the same study breast cancer patients having chemotherapy, reported that it greatly improved quality of life during treatment. There was no change to red cells and white cells and platelets were higher in the group supplementing with IP-6 (5).

IP-6 reduces fat levels, insulin and leptin levels

On a more general note, inositol has been shown to work with other B vitamins to defat the liver and reduce cholesterol levels. It is also known to be involved in hormone signaling and membrane structure.

2020 research showed that IP-6 and inositol supplementation increased HDL (good cholesterol) levels while triglyceride levels fell. Supplementation also reduced vascular damage. The same researchers have shown that the double supplementation seems to regulate insulin and leptin levels, reducing food intake, which may be helpful in diabetic and pre-diabetic states (7). 

Importantly, the researchers noted that free-radical levels in the blood declined.

Chris Woollams, former Oxford University Biochemist said, "I don't think you could say IP-6 was a cure for cancer, but in these studies alone you have scientists showing it attacks important cancer pathways and seems to play a role, for example, in slowing down cancer progression in prostate cancer and breast cancer and CRC too. IP-6 is an antioxidant and it clearly improves the performance of drugs and reduces side-effects. It is also claimed to have benefits in preventing heart disease and anaemia.

One of the biggest advocates of IP-6 was Dr. Abulkalem M Shamsuddin, who wrote a book 'IP-6, Nature's Revolutionary Cancer-fighter'.  

Of course, high fibre foods like pulses, nuts and seeds and whole grains which contain IP-6 are the cornerstone of the Rainbow Diet."

Supplementation and dosage of IP-6

Good supplements of IP-6 contain inositol. The dose is 600 mg, twice a day. No negative interaction with drugs has been found.

Go to: Prostate cancer overview – symptoms, causes and alternative treatments

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