Dear Pharmacist: I read one of your previous articles about breast cancer and you talked about a pathway in the body that could be activated and how certain natural supplements can help. Can you tell us which supplements? -H.B., Bellevue, Washington
Learning about the quinone reductase pathway can help anyone, not just those worried about cancer. It's your body's last chance to turn bad estrogens into good ones, thus reducing risk of cancer, especially those of the reproductive tract. Women -- and men -- need to pay attention today.
I know what you're thinking: "What the heck is quinone reductase and how will I get my doctor to agree to this?"
Well, let me start with the first part of that question. Quinone reductase is abbreviated in the medical community Nqo1. Let's just call it QR for simplicity. QR is an enzyme that gives your body one last chance to turn bad estrogens into good ones.
Basically, by activating QR, you give your body another opportunity to methylate (meaning safely process) the bad estrogens and rid them from the body. If you learn this, you will outsmart your own doctor with this whole QR thing. I promise you, it is critical in terms of detoxifying and protecting your cells, which lowers cancer risk.
You'll be stunned at how easy it is. Here's a handful of the most powerful nutrients that are known to activate QR, and therefore allow you another opportunity to reduce your risk for cancer. Please ask your doctor if these are right for you.
EGCG: It's one of the active ingredients in green tea. You can drink green tea or take a supplement.
Resveratrol: It's a grape extract most famous for its role in heart disease. You want the "trans" resveratrol, not the "cis." Resveratrol also lowers blood sugar which is considered beneficial, but it can catch you off-guard and cause hypoglycemia.
Gamma-tocotrienol: It's part of vitamin E; when you buy mixed, natural vitamin E, you will be getting some of these healthy tocotrienols, but if you buy basic vitamin E (alpha tocopherol) you won't get it.
Quercetin: Found in apples and red onions, this is a citrus bioflavonoid that is a powerful antioxidant and natural antihistamine. You can supplement, too.
Glutathione: You can take glutathione on its own but it's sort of bulky and doesn't penetrate your cells unless you buy liposomal forms, or a special one called S-acetylglutathione made by Xymogen.
Alpha- or R-lipoic acid: This antioxidant penetrates all organs of your body and is commonly used by naturopaths to protect nerves and improve neuropathy. Not only does it activate the QR pathway, but it improves blood sugar levels, too.
Sulforaphane: This is the name of sulfur-containing compounds most often found in cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts. The highest content of sulforaphanes is found in broccoli sprouts. Eat them as often as possible, and consider supplementation.