Tuesday, October 31, 2017

New theory on a possible nutrition modification to lessen chance of developing thyroid cancer

Silicon (Si, atomic number 14) as a micronutrient is likely about to get new attention. This year, researchers announced that they had identified "a mammalian efflux Si transporter, namely Slc34a2 (also termed NaPi-2B) a known sodium-phosphate co-transporter, which was upregulated in the kidney following chronic dietary Si deprivation." (http://ajpcell.physiology.org/content/early/2017/02/08/ajpcell.00219.2015) Slc34a2 is highly expressed in thyroid cancer, lung cancer, endometrial cancer, ovarian cancer, and kidney cancer. (https://www.proteinatlas.org/ENSG00000157765-SLC34A2/pathology) There has been recent work on using an anti-Slc34a2 antibody drug-conjugate to fight ovarian cancer. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26156394) What if another way to decrease Slc34a2 expression is simply to make sure there is enough Si in the diet? Might that not work to fight/prevent cancer in the thyroid/ovaries/uterus/kidneys/lungs?

There is circumstantial evidence to support that dietary silicon intake is protective against developing at least one of those types of cancer. Specifically, beer intake tends to decrease the risk of developing thyroid cancer (http://www.nature.com/bjc/journal/v101/n9/full/6605337a.html), and beer is a great dietary source of silicon. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7904687) The silicon in beer comes mostly from barley husks (https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/02/100208091922.htm), which during the mashing process are immersed in hot water for hours; this water is separated from the barley and subsequently turned into barley malt extract and/or fermented. The good news for alcohol avoiders (like me) is that no fermentation is necessary to get silicon from barley malt extract. One can make their own wort (i.e., the liquid obtained from mixing hot water with milled malted barley and then filtering out the solids) and use it unfermented to make beverages--I did that a few days ago, mixing my homemade sweet wort ("sweet" = without hops) with lemonade--or purchase barley malt extract and mix it in other beverages, such as warm milk.

Silicon is also quite bioavailable from grains and grain products. (http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/75/5/887.long) Besides possibly helping prevent some cancers, per the hypothesis set forth above, silicon shows potential to help prevent nonalcoholic steatohepatitis. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28446627) I've never been on the "grains are evil" bandwagon, and the more I learn about our bodies, the more I think that it's probably very unhealthy to avoid all grains permanently. (There's a big difference between a Krispy Kreme donut and pumpernickel bread. Feel free to avoid the donuts forever.)

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