Life Extension Magazine December 2009
Protect Your Genes From Deadly Mutations
By John Colman
Unfavorable genetic mutations are responsible for an estimated 6,000 diseases, including all cancers.1 Researchers believe that if this one factor were eliminated, humans would regularly live for 100 years or more.2
In the majority of cases, unfavorable genetic alterations are not inherited. They occur within a single lifetime as a result of exposure to environmental agents. A variety of natural compounds have been shown to block the toxicity of these mutagens—and protect the DNA.
Cancer results from the accumulation of mutations in genes that regulate cellular proliferation. Chlorophyllin is one of the most promising agents to protect against these deadly gene mutations.
The reason humans live as long as we do is because our cells are programmed to divide 45-55 times on average before they reach a point where they get too old to divide.3 This is known as replicative senescence. Our cells are naturally programmed to divide in order to continuously replace defective or dead cells—to extend our life span.
The nucleus within each cell houses our DNA—the genetic map that determines the life of the organism. DNA is the “blueprint” by which our cells reproduce themselves. If every cell’s DNA replaced itself perfectly during cell division, we would be more likely to achieve a life span of approximately 120 years.2
The problem, of course, is that genes can mutate. We either inherit or acquire those mutated genes. Mutations are random changes in the nucleotide sequence of our cellular DNA. They alter genetic expression. Some of these mutations are adaptive and favorable to human evolution. However, the vast majority of genetic mutations to our genes are not inherited. They occur over the course of our lifetime and are known as somatic mutations. These can introduce biochemical errors of varying degrees of severity.
Cumulative somatic mutations are one reason why cancer rates rise dramatically with age. They are largely the result of exposure to chemically active agents known as mutagens. These so called “enviro-toxins” have been detected in our food supply, everyday chemicals in detergents, cleansers and other consumer products, and in our environment.4
The link between cancer and genetic mutation has become much clearer in the past several years, with the discovery of tumor suppressor genes and proto-oncogenes. Tumor suppressor genes keep cell division within normal bounds, while proto-oncogenes drive the process of cell division forward. Mutations to either type of genes can result in cancer—the uncontrolled growth of cells.4,5
The list of diseases attributable to somatic mutation is growing rapidly.1 This is why it is so vitally important to block gene and DNA mutations during our lifetime using targeted antimutagenic agents. Among the most powerful mutation-blocking agents is chlorophyllin.6,7
Chlorophyllin is a semi-synthetic, water-soluble form of the plant pigment chlorophyll. Unlike some herbal ingredients that indicate cancer protection at high doses (hundreds of milligrams per kilogram of body weight in animal or human studies), chlorophyllin possesses anti-cancer and DNA damage-protection effects at much lower amounts. In fact, 40-100 mg of chlorophyllin three times daily is all many humans need to duplicate studies showing excellent protection against a wide range of dietary compounds that are known to cause cancer in humans and animals.8,9
Here, we’ll explore the latest research on chlorophyllin’s numerous health-promoting effects—from prevention of cancers caused by diet to managing a serious disease called leukopenia.8,9
Neutralizing Dietary Carcinogens and Preventing Multiple Cancers
As Life Extension Magazine® first pointed out over a decade ago, the integrity of human DNA is under constant assault owing to the way we cook our food. Well-done meats—grilled, fried, or barbecued beef, pork, and chicken with skin—contain varying quantities of the powerful carcinogens benzopyrene and PhIP (2-amino-1-methyl-6-phenylimidazo [4,5-b] pyridine).8,10-12 Baking or stewing meat at moderate temperatures has not been shown to produce cancer-causing chemicals.
These cancer-causing agents are ubiquitous. Benzopyrene is so commonplace and poses such a threat to human health that some countries test all imported foods for benzopyrene content. In sufficient quantities, this potent carcinogen binds to DNA, causing severe genetic mutation in affected cells. Once these cells divide, they can become precancerous—or cancerous.13
Chlorophyllin appears to counter benzopyrene’s carcinogenic effect in four distinct ways:
Chlorophyllin operates along similar biological pathways to neutralize other dietary carcinogens, including PhIP and aflatoxin from molds.8 By binding with them, it inhibits their absorption and speeds their transit through the gastrointestinal tract. This reduces adduct formation and tumor growth. 19-21
Similarly, its effects on phase I and phase II liver enzymes de-activate these dangerous agents22 and help the body to excrete them.16,17
Chlorophyllin’s unique capacity to halt the mutagenic activity of these carcinogens—and dramatically reduce incidence among numerous types of cancer—have been documented in a wealth of studies.
Chlorophyllin’s anti-cancer effects were documented in a clinical human trial, conducted in Quidong province, China by a team from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.8 Quidong has one of the highest recorded liver cancer rates in the world. Among other factors, crops infected with aflatoxin-producing fungus cause early death from liver cancer. People there live an average of 50 years and many die a painful death from liver cancer—one of the least treatable cancers.
Among the 180 people who took 100 mg of chlorophyllin three times daily in the Johns Hopkins study, urinary levels of DNA-aflatoxin adducts went down 55% compared to untreated people.8 The formation of DNA adducts often leads to DNA mutations and the formation of a cancer cell. A drop in DNA mutation rates such as would be expected from the participants in this study could delay the onset of cancer by as much as twenty years.23
The most abundant carcinogen in fried meats, PhIP is a heterocyclic amine compound.24 These form when amino acids (the building blocks of proteins) and creatine (a chemical found in the muscle tissue) react at high temperatures. When PhIP is administered to laboratory animals, it speeds the development of aberrant crypt foci, the structural precursors of colon cancer.
Mounting scientific research clearly indicates that chlorophyllin can help protect the colon against this lethal carcinogen. In a recent study, it cut the number of pre-cancerous aberrant crypt foci by 50% and accelerated the elimination of unmetabolized PhIP.12
In 2008, chlorophyllin was shown to inhibit the mutagenic effect of another heterocylic amine found in cooked meat and other foods called IQ (2-hydroxyamino-3-methylimidazo [4,5-f] quinoline). Researchers found that chlorophyllin rapidly degraded IQ’s mutagenic metabolite, potentially interrupting the development of colon cancer at an early stage.25
In another study, mice were given dimethylhydrazine, a carcinogen shown to specifically induce tumors in the colon. When chlorophyllin was administered concurrently, it prevented the formation of tumors by inhibiting the protein complexes that enable mutant DNA to replicate.26
Cell culture studies indicate that chlorophyllin may specifically reduce the damaging interaction of benzopyrene with breast cell DNA.14 It also inhibits breast cancer cell proliferation by preventing the activation of extracellular regulatory enzymes.27
This suggests a role for chlorophyllin in protecting against breast cancer, particularly in women who consume well-done meats in large quantities. (The correlation between breast cancer incidence and meat consumption has been well documented.28)
A landmark 2007 study of pre- and postmenopausal women (1,508 cases and 1,558 controls) yielded compelling evidence. Researchers estimated women’s lifetime intakes of grilled, smoked, or barbecued meats using food frequency questionnaires. Postmenopausal women with low fruit and vegetable intake and high intake of these meats were on average 74% more likely to develop breast cancer.29
Pancreatic cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer death in the United States, claims 34,000 lives each year. Research suggests that dietary factors—PhIP from fried meats in particular—significantly increase pancreatic cancer risk.
A study of over 60,000 participants followed over nine years found that those who ate meat cooked to the point of charring by barbecuing, grilling, or frying also suffered a substantially increased risk of developing pancreatic cancer. Dr. Kirsten Anderson reported the study results at the 100th annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research.30,31
Dr. Anderson analyzed data from the PLCO (Prostate, Lung, Colorectal, and Ovarian) Multi-center Screening Trial, which examined how much meat participants ate and how well done they preferred it. Participants who liked their meat very well done had a 60% higher risk of developing pancreatic cancer than those who ate no meat or liked their meat less well done.30,31
Not surprisingly, the latest scientific evidence indicates that chlorophyllin may also offer significant protection against this particular form of cancer.
In a recent pre-clinical study, researchers examined the cancer-preventing activities of a variety of natural and synthetic compounds, including chlorophyllin. Rats were either given PhIP alone, or PhIP in combination with 1% chlorophyllin in their drinking water for a year, to determine its protective effects.
Forty percent of animals receiving PhIP alone developed adenocarcinomas. Those that also received chlorophyllin had a significantly reduced incidence of adenocarcinoma.32 These findings suggest that chlorophyllin could protect vulnerable tissues like the pancreas from the dangers of heterocyclic amines.
Protection Against a Common, Potentially Deadly Disease
Leukopenia is a fairly common disorder which can have disastrous consequences if not diagnosed in time. It is characterized by a decrease in the number of white blood cells, or leukocytes, which results in increased risk of infection. There are numerous causes of leukopenia in humans, including: radiation therapy, aplastic anemia, drug side effects, cancer, viral infections, and autoimmune disorders.33
To evaluate the efficacy and safety of chlorophyllin in treating leukopenia, 105 patients with leukopenia caused by various factors were randomized into three groups. One group received chlorophyllin, one received vitamin C, and the last group received the drug leucogen. The 60 patients in the chlorophyllin group took 40 mg three times per day by mouth.9
Researchers then observed the change of the peripheral leukocyte count after treatment and any adverse reactions. In the 60 patients given chlorophyllin, the treatment was markedly effective in 34 patients, effective in 17 patients, and ineffective in nine patients.9
In total, chlorophyllin effectively reduced leukopenia in 85% of participants. Chlorophyllin was significantly more effective than vitamin C, which produced improvements in only 26.7% of recipients, and it was similarly effective to leucogen. No adverse effects were associated with chlorophyll treatment. The researchers concluded that chlorophyllin is safe and efficacious in the treatment of leukopenia caused by various factors.9
Limiting DNA Damage from Radiation Exposure
Humans are exposed to radiation (energy that travels as waves or high-speed particles) from a variety of sources, including sunlight, sound waves, X-rays, nuclear power plants, and cancer treatment.
Excess radiation can produce adverse effects ranging from DNA mutations to immune suppression to radiation sickness. Encouraging evidence suggests that chlorophyllin may confer protection against some of the damaging effects of radiation.
Chlorophyllin has been shown to help protect against the oxidative stress induced by full-body radiation and to help prevent radiation-induced immune suppression.34 Chlorophyllin increases the number of crucial immune system cells in the spleen (T cells, B cells, and macrophages) during recovery from radiation. Chlorophyllin also increased phagocyte activity (the engulfing of invading microbes by white blood cells) in irradiated mice.35
These experimental data on chlorophyllin34,35 suggest it could be applied in human trials to help eliminate the side effects of radiation treatment, especially the immune suppression that is so dangerous after high-dose radiation. This might one day allow for the use of higher, more effective doses of radiation to kill cancers, and could help protect surrounding non-cancerous tissues from the collateral damage caused by radiation therapy. Ideally, the overall goal would be to lower the adverse effects of radiation from all causes and accelerate cancer cell apoptosis (programmed cell death), which chlorophyllin has accomplished in some cancer cell lines.27,36
Failure to protect our genes from dangerous mutations that accumulate over a lifetime can limit our longevity and cause fatal diseases. Chlorophyllin has been shown to protect our genes from a large array of cancer and other disease-causing chemicals that are known to react with our DNA.
Chlorophyllin protects genes in at least six known ways:
Exposure to cancer-causing agents and mutagens in our environment is a largely unavoidable consequence of living in a post-industrial society. Even if one leads a healthy lifestyle, it may not be enough to combat the onslaught of toxic pollution and contamination we are exposed to daily. Supplementation with antimutagenic agents such as chlorophyllin, resveratrol, and other plant extracts is a sensible way to protect our health, as part of a daily regimen.
If you have any questions on the scientific content of this article, please call a Life Extension® health advisor at 1-866-864-3027.
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