One of the most important nutritional products to be introduced in years is the combination of Ip6 – short for inositol hexaphosphate – and inositol. This combination of naturally-occurring compounds produced from rice bran has demonstrated impressive anticancer and immune-enhancing effects in experimental studies. However, its true anticancer effects may be related to an ability to turn off cancer cells as well as preventing the cancer to establish an active blood supply.
Ip6 is a component of fiber that is found primarily in whole grains and legumes. It appears that the cancer protective effects of a high fiber diet are due to the presence of higher levels of Ip6. However, although Ip6 is found in substantial amounts in the fiber component of whole grains and beans, supplementation with purified Ip6 and the proper amount of inositol offers several advantages:
- In foods, Ip6 exists primarily as a poorly absorbed form because it is complexed with protein and minerals like calcium, magnesium, or potassium to form a salt.
- Studies have shown that pure Ip6 is significantly more bioavailable than the Ip6 found in whole grains and beans.
- When properly combined with inositol, Ip6 forms 2 molecules of Ip3 in the body. It is the Ip3 that plays an important role in controlling key cell functions including replication and the communication between cells.
Ip6 is extremely safe based upon extensive animal testing and human studies. In fact, no side effects have been reported even at very high dosages. Experimental studies have also shown it can be used in combination with conventional cancer treatments such as radiation and chemotherapy.
Dietary Ip6 is thought to be a chief factor in a high fiber diet that prevents the progression of prostate cancer to a clinical stage. To test this hypothesis, researchers at the University of Colorado fed one group of mice who had prostate cancer IP6 while a second group of mice that also had prostate cancer served as a control group. The researchers then monitored the progression of prostate cancer in both groups of mice using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
The results were dramatic, as the mice given IP6 had markedly reduced tumor volumes. The researchers attributed the major anticancer effect to the ability of Ip6 to effectively turn off signals within cancer cells that trigger growth as well as inhibit the growth of blood vessels that can feed the cancer cells. Thereby, not only turning off the cancer cells growth, but also robbing the needed nutrients that the prostate tumor would need in order to divide and multiply.
While the study focused only on mice and not on human subjects, it adds to a body of research indicating the importance of Ip6 as an anticancer agent.
Gu M, Roy S, Raina K, Agarwal C, Agarwal R. Inositol hexaphosphate suppresses growth and induces apoptosis in prostate carcinoma cells in culture and nude mouse xenograft: PI3K-Akt pathway as potential target. Cancer Res. 2009 Dec 15;69(24):9465-72.