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Antioxidants improve liver health and may even help reduce viral load in patients with chronic hepatitis C

Feb 07, 2006

Hepatitis C (HCV) is a virus that causes inflammation of the liver. It was possible to pick up the infection through a blood transfusion, especially before 1992 when better blood screening tests were developed. HCV can be picked up through any exposure to tainted blood such as sharing a toothbrush or needle. It can be transmitted sexually, or even picked up from an improperly sterilized dialysis machine or tattoo needle. The CDC estimates that 3.9 million Americans have been infected with HCV and 2.7 million of these people are chronically infected. Of people with chronic HCV, 10% to 20% eventually develop cirrhosis of the liver and up to 5% develop liver cancer. HCV is responsible for about 10,000 deaths annually in the USA.

In this study fifty patients with chronic HCV were treated with 7 oral nutrients daily for 20 weeks along with four by intravenous injection twice a week for the first 10 weeks. The four injections were glycyrrhizin, ascorbic acid, glutathione and B-complex, the seven oral supplements were Alpha-Lipoic Acid, Glutathione, Ascorbic Acid, Schizandra, Silymarin, Alpha-Tocopherol, and Glycyrrhizin. The patients were observed for an additional 20 weeks. In 48% of the patients a favorable response was found in parameters including decreased liver enzyme levels, decreased evidence for HCV viral load (HCV RNA levels), or an improved liver biopsy. 44% of the patients with elevated ALT (also known as SGPT) had improved levels, and these levels remained normal throughout the follow up period in 73 % of the patients with improvement in ALT. A decrease in viral load was observed in 25% of the patients, Quality of life improved for about 60% of the patients. The study is published in the December 2005 issue of the journal Alternative Medicine Review.

Commentary by Jerry Hickey, R.Ph.

Hopefully none of us will encounter an agent as destructive as mustard gas, but it is good for us to note that these particular antioxidants are very lung friendly and that available oral supplement levels have shown protective activity in research.

Chemoprevention of lung cancer by Green Tea is common in animal studies

The risk of lung cancer in smokers is estimated to be 20 times that of a person who has never smoked, and recent evidence indicates an increased risk of lung cancer with second hand smoke exposure. Most animal studies indicate that Green Tea has strong chemopreventive effects against lung tumor development. The reported mechanisms of protection by green tea include:

  • Antioxidant activity (this reduces damage to cells caused by inflammatory free radicals)
  • Induction of Phase II detoxification enzymes (these deactivate and remove dangerous chemicals)
  • Inhibition of TNF alpha - a major contributor to inflammation when inappropriately released
  • Inhibition of abnormal cell proliferation
  • Induction of apoptosis (the destruction of abnormal and cancerous cells)
  • Cell cycle arrest - stopping the growth and reproduction of cancer cells
The study is published in the January 19th, 2006 issue of the journal Molecular Nutrition and Food Research.