Cancer, Heart Disease and Telomeres

Here’s a truth about cancer … you don’t get cancer because your aunt Mae or anyone else in your family had it.

The high rate of occurrence is indicative of how far from our natural environment we’ve strayed. Man-made chemicals, toxicants and pollutants, combined with the loss of nutrient protection from food, for example, make us more vulnerable.

But that also means that when you restore these natural protectors to your body, you have a good chance of avoiding cancer altogether.

Take one of my favorite natural metabolic regulators, nitric oxide. It’s an important signaling molecule in your cardiovascular system. It relaxes the lining in blood vessels allowing blood to flow freely. That reduces blood pressure. It also helps prevent your arteries from stiffening up which can lead to heart disease.

But here’s something I only recently discovered about nitric oxide (NO) myself. It can help maintain your telomeres. German scientists injected NO into a culture of blood cells. The NO increased the activity of telomerase, the enzyme that rebuilds telomeres. it extended the life of the blood cells.1

The same is true in the other direction. Block NO production and telomeres get shorter.2

That would be a huge benefit all by itself, because longer telomeres means less chance of cancer.

But nitric oxide is a powerful anti-cancer nutrient in other ways, too.

Lab studies link nitric oxide to an increase in the programmed death of tumor cells. It also lowers rates of cancer metastasis.3 That means cancers are less likely to spread when you have enough NO.

You see, cancer cells with high levels of nitric oxide can’t metastasize. And deadly cells that do metastasize have low NO levels. For example one animal study showed when mice had high NO levels, cancer cells could not survive long enough to spread to the lungs.4

Plus, each molecule is very small and can penetrate deep into tissues and cells 5 that other nutrients can’t get to, making it nature’s perfect weapon against cancer cells.

That’s remarkable when you think about it … that nitric oxide can cure heart disease, lengthen telomeres and fight cancer. Let me show you my three steps to raising your levels of this ultra-powerful metabolic miracle molecule:

Step 1) The first thing I have my patients do is the right kind of exercise.

As I mentioned earlier, getting the kind of exertion our ancestors got will restore the natural cancer-protective environment in your body that kept our primal relatives virtually cancer-free.

A higher-intensity, short-duration workout, like my PACE program, is an easy way to get NO flowing throughout your blood. The short duration gives you a bigger challenge to your metabolism. This boosts NO levels by increasing an enzyme called NO synthase. Short bursts of exertion that challenge your current level of fitness for no more than 20 total minutes will boost your nitric oxide naturally.

Step 2) Look for foods rich in nitrates. But don’t confuse that with “sodium nitrate.” That’s a chemical salt used to preserve meats like bacon, ham and hot dogs. Sodium nitrate converts to “sodium nitrite” during the preserving process. You want to avoid that.

When you cook foods with sodium nitrite at high heat, cancer-causing substances called nitrosamines can form.

Natural nitrates in vegetables are a different matter. They’re found in leafy greens like arugula, lettuce, Swiss chard, basil, cilantro, and rhubarb.

One of my favorite sources is beets. When you eat a beet, the nitrates mix with your saliva and mouth bacteria to produce nitric oxide. Studies show drinking beet juice can raise NO levels and lower your blood pressure within 3 or 4 hours. The effects can last up to 24 hours.6

Step 3) There are also supplements that can increase nitric oxide production in your body.

The best one is the amino acid L-arginine. It converts to NO in your body. And you get the added benefit of having it raise telomerase levels, protecting you from cancer even more.

I recommend at least 500 mg a day. You can find it in capsules or powders. But make sure you get the L form and not the synthetic D,L form.

Also, niacin improves nitric oxide activity. Use 500 mg of sustained release niacin to boost nitric oxide activity.

To Your Good Health,

Al Sears, MD

Al Sears, MD

1. Vasa M, et. al. “Nitric Oxide Activates Telomerase and Delays Endothelial Cell Senescense.” Circulation Research. 2000; 540-542.
2. Scalera F, et. al. “Endogenous Nitric Oxide Synthesis Inhibitor Asymmertic Dimethyle L-Arginine Accelerates Endothelial Cell Senescence.” Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology. 2004; 1816-1822.
3. Xie K et al, “Transfection with the inducible nitric oxide synthase gene suppresses tumorigenicity and abrogates metastasis by K-1735 murine melanoma cells.” J Exp Med. 1995;181(4):1333-43.
4. Dong Z, Staroselsky A, Qi X, Fidler I. “ Inverse correlation between expression of inducible nitric oxide synthase activity and production of metastasis in K-1735 murine melanoma cells.” Cancer Res. 1994: 54:789-793.
5.Robson T, Hirst D. “Targeting nitric oxide for cancer therapy.” JPP 2007;59: 3–13.
6. Webb. A. et al, “Acute Blood Pressure Lowering, Vasoprotective, and Antiplatelet Properties of Dietary Nitrate via Bioconversion to Nitrite.” Hypertension. 2008; 51: 784-790