Life Extension Magazine August 2006
All About Supplements
By Dan Harvey
Boron Helps Fight Prostate Cancer
In addition to its role in promoting healthy bones and joints, boron may play an underappreciated role in protecting men against prostate cancer. As men grow older, their risk for prostate cancer skyrockets. Fortunately, growing research indicates that boron may help prevent prostate cancer.
One study revealed that prostate cancer risk can be reduced simply by consuming a greater amount of boron-rich foods.17 This study compared the dietary patterns of 76 prostate cancer patients to those of 7,651 men without cancer. Men who ingested the greatest amount of boron were 64% less likely to develop prostate cancer than were men who consumed the least boron. Diets of the men consuming the most boron included an average of 3.5 servings of fruit and one serving of nuts each day. Men who ingested the least boron ate only one serving of fruit a day. These findings not only underscore the remarkable, broad-spectrum health benefits associated with consuming fruits, but also suggest that boron in particular may be responsible for some of these protective benefits.
A subsequent study revealed a possible mechanism by which boron may reduce the incidence of prostate cancer. Boron compounds inhibit the activity of many serine protease enzymes, including prostate-specific antigen (PSA). Recent studies indicate that elevated PSA may promote prostate cancer via its degradation effects on the extra-cellular protein matrix (the protein surrounding the cell) within the prostate gland. Breaking down these cellular barriers may enable prostate cancer cells to more readily invade healthy tissue and spread (metastasize) beyond the prostate gland18 Using a validated animal model of prostate cancer, researchers found that oral administration of various concentrations of a boron-containing solution in test subjects led to substantial decreases in tumor size, ranging from 25% to 38%.19
Even more impressive, PSA levels dropped by an astounding 86-89% in the test animals that received boron. By contrast, animals that did not receive supplemental boron experienced no decrease in tumor size or PSA level.19 These findings suggest that supplemental boron may help to shrink prostate tumors while decreasing levels of PSA, an important prostate cancer marker. They are especially timely in light of the recent discovery that PSA itself may contribute to prostate cancer promotion. Ensuring adequate boron intake should thus be considered a critical component of any strategy to prevent prostate cancer and maintain optimal PSA levels.
Boron’s Role in Protecting Cognitive Function
Boron’s health benefits go beyond preserving bone and joint health while conferring protection against prostate cancer. This essential mineral may also have important applications in helping aging adults preserve one of their most treasured assets: cognitive function.20
Researchers investigated the effects of dietary boron intake on the cognitive performance of healthy older men and women.21 The participants were placed on a boron-deficient diet (containing approximately 0.25 mg of boron per 2,000 calories daily) and a diet with ample boron (containing approximately 3.25 mg of boron per 2,000 calories daily). Researchers assessed boron’s effects on various cognitive and psychomotor tests.
Compared to the high-boron diet, low dietary boron was correlated with markedly worse performance on tasks involving manual dexterity, hand-to-eye coordination, attention, perception, and short- and long-term memory. The researchers concluded that boron plays an important role in human brain function and cognitive performance, adding that the study findings strongly suggest that boron is an essential nutrient for human health.21
Boron Also Counters Oxidative Stress
In addition to boron’s beneficial effects on bone density, joint health, prostate cancer, and cognitive function, researchers have begun to explore its value as an antioxidant. The preliminary results are promising, indeed.
In a study at the University of Craiova in Romania, researchers investigated calcium fructoborate’s application in skin wounds and healing.22 Specifically, they tested whether calcium fructoborate exhibits antioxidant properties in human keratinocyte cultures, which serve as a laboratory model of human skin cells. Cells treated with calcium fructoborate were exposed to exogenous hydrogen peroxide to mimic environmentally induced oxidative stress. The researchers found that calcium fructoborate decreased the production of intracellular reactive oxygen species, leading them to conclude that calcium fructoborate has antioxidant activity that could have clinical significance in protecting skin cells from oxidation-induced injury.
Boron is emerging as a crucial nutrient for supporting healthy bone mass and thus avoiding the scourge of osteoporosis that plagues older Americans today. Compelling new evidence indicates that boron also promotes healthy joints, helps prevent prostate cancer, improves cognitive function, and may offer powerful antioxidant protection. This little-known mineral should be a nutritional staple for all seeking to optimize their health.
Recent research has found that not all boron formulations are equally effective. A newly available form of boron known as FruiteX B® OsteoBoron™ mimics the boron found in nature and demonstrates superior potency and bioavailability. This novel, advanced boron formulation should enable all health-conscious adults to take full advantage of boron’s broad array of health-promoting benefits.
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