Does hyaluronic acid promote or accelerate the spread of cancer?
Bill Sardi, Knowledge of Health, Inc.
For inexplicable reasons the first website listed by internet search engines for hyaluronic acid (HA) is a poorly founded opinion by a health writer that hyaluronic acid promotes cancer. This report has misled many people into mistakenly thinking oral hyaluronic acid, taken as a dietary supplement, may in some way promote cancer.
Numerous times the author of that misleading report has been sent contrary studies, but has refused to remove the misleading information. So you will have to examine the topic for yourself.
Hyaluronic acid is produced continually throughout life, more so when very young and during pregnancy, when cancer rates are almost nonexistent. Yet the opinion prevails that somehow, taking oral HA might cause cancer.
For the naïve viewer of the medical literature, there are many reports indicating elevated levels of HA are associated with the spread of tumors, what is called invasion. Tumor cells can mobilize and spread (become metastatic) by using HA as a kind of biological “slide and slide.”
However, taking oral HA supplements has little to do with this biological phenomenon. More HA shows up at tumor site because it is a healing agent. Anywhere there is a wound in your body, cells called fibroblasts make more HA.
A recent study, conducted by researchers in Finland, investigated the role of hyaluronic acid in squamous cell carcinoma (oral cancer). “At the end of the follow-up (median 52 months) 43% of patients had died because of this type of cancer.
A significant difference in overall survival and disease free survival was noticed between the patients with the different epithelial staining patterns for HA. The reduction of HA staining was associated with poor survival. These results suggest that HA is a prognostic marker in oral squamous cell carcinoma.”
Notice the words “prognostic marker.” Since more HA is produced in tissues that are damaged by trauma, burns, toxic chemicals, or tumors, broken down (degraded) HA can be used to detect or measure the progression of tumors.
This is akin to fire fighters who show up at fires. They are “associated with,” but not considered a cause, of the fires. The fire fighters are there to put the fire out, just like HA is attempting to heal the damaged tissue.
The difference between cause and association is easily understood by the following example. Let’s say investigators want to know the causes of childhood pedestrian accidents. They collect data from all cases where children were hit by automobiles and they find that nearly all of the children were wearing tennis shoes.
So, can we conclude that tennis shoes caused the accidents? Obviously not. The tennis shoes are only by-standers. So is HA.
Here is a study to examine. Finnish researchers noted that “hyaluronic acid is involved in the growth and progression of malignant tumors.” The researchers stated that “a high proportion of HA-positive cells of all cancer cells was significantly associated with deep tumor invasions, spreading to lymph nodes, and is associated with tumor progression and poor survival rate.”
Sounds pretty terrible, to the uninformed reader, doesn’t it? Notice the report says HA is “involved” and “associated,” but never indicates it was a cause of tumors or increased their severity. [Br J Cancer 79:1133-8, 1999]
Hard paved roads are responsible for the severity of trauma when people are thrown out of cars in auto accidents, but we can’t say the road caused the accident, can we?
Recently a study examined the role of various components of the connective tissue (the goo in between living cells, like mortar in between bricks). Tumor tissue from 86 patients with breast cancer that had not spread to lymph nodes yet was examined by staining the tissues so each type of connective tissue component could be identified (versican, chondroitin sulfate, tenascin, and hyaluronan.
Researchers at the Hanson Institute in Adelaide, Australia, said: “analyses indicated that elevated expression of versican predicted increased risk and rate of relapse in this cohort. Elevated expression of tenascin was predictive of increased risk and rate of death only……neither chondroitin or hyaluronic acid were predictive of disease outcome in this group.” [Clinical Cancer Research 10: 2491-98, 2004]
In one study researchers have noted that “cancer patients with a scattered and weak HA staining had a significantly higher probability of recurrent disease and unfavorable outcome.” [Oral Oncology 40:257-63, 2004]
If hyaluronic acid is a suspected cancer-causing agent, then why is it being used along with other molecules to treat cancer? Researchers in Italy indicate HA combined with other compounds are “promising” and responsible for the “arrest” of tumor cell growth. [Investigative New Drugs 22: 207-17, 2004]
Hyaluronic acid is actually being used experimentally to treat cancer, with great effectiveness. One alternative medical practitioner notes HA, when added to other intravenous compounds, increases the effectiveness of cancer treatment.
See report at: http://www.smartlifeforum.org/newsletters/Morris_2004_11_18.htm
Here is another report, re-published intact (below), which indicates HA is a promising anti-cancer agent. While no company that makes oral HA supplements can make any claims that their products cure, prevent or even diagnose cancer, the citations listed herein should dispel poorly founded concerns that oral HA promotes cancer in any way.
This is taken from the Winnipeg Free Press, Saturday, July 15th, 1995:
CANCER FIND HAILED
Manitobans stop disease in mice;
discovery grabs world's atttention
By Bill Redskop (Staff Reporter)
Manitoba scientists have found that they can stop the spread of cancer in mice by turning off a cancer cell's sensing ability.
Testing on animals will continue for about two years before human treatment is tried.
The treatment, hailed as a huge breakthrough in the fight against cancer, involves knocking out a cell's RHAMMs (receptors for hyaluronic acid mediated motility.)
The receptors sit on the surface of a cell and act as its eyes and ears.
But when the Manitoba scientists used genetic engineering to knock out those senses, the cancer cells would simply lie inert and not reproduce.
Even more astonishing, the receptorless cancer cells soon turned to their normal, non-cancerous state.
"If you blind it, the cancer cell just dies," said Dr. Arnold Greenberg, one of three molecular biologists making up the research team. "It surprised us, and everyone else who saw it."
"Resarchers never thought of this before. It's quite novel," said team leader Dr. Eva Turley, who discovered and named the RHAMM receptor three years ago.
Turley, 45, has been traveling the globe in recent months sharing her findings with other scientists, with stops in Atlanta, Colorado, Hawaii, Australia, Sweden, Switzerland, and London, England. She travels to Japan later this year.
"When I gave a talk in Colorado, I was the last speaker to talk, and everyone was restless and talking about going out skiing. After I finished, there was stunned silence,"said Turley, a microbiologist with the University of Manitoba.
Turley cautioned that they only studied the gene called ras, responsible for 20 to 30 per cent of cancers. And experiments have only been conducted on mice so far.
But in theory, the treatment - using high concentrations of hyaluronic acid, which cells generally use in small amounts - should work in humans, she said.
It's hoped the findings will lead to biotechnological treatment of cancer that would be more effective than radiation chemotherapy, and without the negative side effects she said.
Dr. Jim Wright is the third member of the team.
The scientists, who work out of the Manitoba Institute of Cell Biology, are funded by the Terry Fox Program of the National Cancer Institute of Canada.
Turley said all the travel and attention in recent months has been overwhelming.
The discovery was written up in yesterday's edition of Cell Magazine, the most prestigious biomedical sciences journal in the world.
Submitted by Bill Sardi, Knowledge of Health, Inc.
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