Vitamin k is a group name for a number of related compounds. Each one serves an essential purpose in the prevention of cancer. Vitamin K1 and K2 are the two natural forms of the vitamin – which can target cancer at multiple stages of development.
Researchers have shown the distinct ways that vitamin K2 stops the proliferation of cancer cells. These studies confirm the healthiest way to curtail malignancies is through diet and supplementation.
The anti-tumor action of vitamin K has been under investigation since 1947. But, only recently, has it been discovered that different forms of vitamin K can actually stop the creation of cancer cells. Vitamin K affects the tumors by modifying growth factors and receptor molecules – which make cells less able to stimulate tumor growth and progression.
The cell cycle becomes frozen and is not able to create any further cells. It also creates programmed cell death through distinctive mechanisms. One of the most unique methods is called “oncosis” – which is a form of stress-activated ischemic cell demise – and tumor cells are particularly vulnerable to this process.
How does Vit K Stop Cancer Cell Growth?
Tumors can rapidly outgrow their blood supplies, their high metabolism means they use up oxygen rapidly, which makes them especially vulnerable to oxidant stress – much more so than the healthier tissues around them. Vitamin K targets tumor cells for destruction by stimulating oxidative stress – without toxicity to healthy tissues.
Persistent stress often leads to chronic cell injury and eventually the demise of the cell via oncosis. This is another way to get rid of cancer cells besides getting them to commit suicide, which is known as apoptosis.
Another unique mechanism of vitamin K, demonstrated recently in bile duct cancers and leukemia, is autophagy, in which cancer cells essentially eat themselves by releasing their own digestive enzymes internally. By still another mechanism, vitamin C and K in combination contribute to cancer cell death by autoschizis, whereby cells simply split open, spilling their contents.
Plus, in case you’re wondering about the science, a study from Uruguay demonstrated that serum markers in a group of prostate cancer patients indicated tumor cell destruction following supplementation with vitamin C and K. Then, there is this other study the “European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition” involving over 24,000 participants from the ages of 35 to 64, all who were free of cancer when enrolled in the study.
The participants were tracked for cancer incidence and mortality for an average of 10 years. Part of the study tracked their vitamin K1 and K2 dietary intake over these years and compared it to cancer incidence and mortality. Can you guess what happened?
What was found was that vitamin K2, was associated with a lower risk of getting cancer and succumbing to it. The benefit of vitamin K2 intake was revealed with a dramatic reduction in lung and prostate cancer among the individuals in the study.
At the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, researchers have found that people who have higher intakes of vitamin K have a lower risk of developing non-Hodgkin lymphoma. In this study, vitamin K1 (found mostly in leafy greens) showed a preventative value in reducing cancer risk.
Those who had the highest levels of vitamin K1 from diet and/or supplements had a 45% less risk for developing this form of lymphoma. In addition, researchers in Japan discovered that vitamin K2 may play a role in preventing the type of liver cancer caused by viral cirrhosis.
Where can I get vitamin K?
Just as a reminder, vitamin K exists in two natural forms ‘vitamin K1’ and ‘vitamin K2’. Vitamin K1 is found in fresh vegetables such as broccoli, lettuce, cabbage, collard greens, broccoli, okra, asparagus, prunes, avocado and other leafy green vegetables. Vitamin K2 is found in meat, dairy, and natto – a Japanese soy product.
Obviously, you won’t hear much from your conventionally-trained doctor about how to treat or prevent cancer – nutritionally. But, the fact remains, most people do not get sufficient vitamin K from their diet. Yet, it’s one of the most important nutrients to consume for optimal health.