by Dr. Joseph Debé
Upon first inspection, it seems like "snake oil." Yet the many health claims that can be made for Recancostat are supported by thousands of studies published in scientific journals. Recancostat is a patented nutritional formula consisting of anthocyans, L-cysteine, and, most importantly, reduced glutathione. Deficient levels of reduced glutathione have been found in patients with: arthritis, diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, lung disease, alcoholism, chronic renal failure, eye diseases, neurologic diseases, AIDS, liver disease, and cancer. To sum it up, deficient levels have been found in 77 percent of patients with chronic illness. Adequate levels of reduced glutathione have been found to be the best biological marker of good health in older age. These impressive facts are easily appreciated when one understands the vital roles that reduced glutathione plays in the body.
Reduced glutathione is a tripeptide composed of the amino acids cysteine, glycine, and glutamic acid. Every cell in the body makes reduced glutathione. "Reduced" means that the glutathione is in a chemical form whereby it can donate electrons. The ability to donate electrons is what gives reduced glutathione its biological activity. This is in contrast to oxidized glutathione, which has already donated electrons. Once reduced glutathione donates electrons and becomes oxidized, it is no longer of any value. Unless the body can quickly regenerate the glutathione to the reduced form by supplying it with more electrons, it is transported out of the cells and degraded. The ratio of reduced glutathione to oxidized glutathione found in healthy cells is 100:1 to 400:1.
Reduced glutathione neutralizes free radicals, which are highly reactive molecules that contribute to virtually every degenerative disease, including cancer and the aging process. Free radicals are unavoidable and do have some positive attributes. However, when free radical production is not tightly controlled by free radical quenchers or antioxidants, damage results. Amazingly, the average human cell sustains 10,000 free radical "hits" on a daily basis! Reduced glutathione is the most important antioxidant inside the cells and, therefore, plays a critical role in minimizing damage by free radicals.
Additionally, reduced glutathione chelates and removes heavy metals and many classes of toxins from the body, protects against radiation damage, influences protein and DNA synthesis, plays a role in prostaglandin and leukotriene (important hormone-like compounds) metabolism, is important for immune function, and maintains proper structure and function of proteins and enzymes, including antioxidant enzymes.
Reduced glutathione is the primary molecule responsible for maintaining the negative redox potential found in healthy cells. Redox potential can be thought of as the ability to neutralize free radicals. All cellular reactions are dependent upon the proper redox potential for normal function. Proteins that regulate gene expression are strongly influenced by reduced glutathione levels. When these proteins malfunction due to inadequate levels of reduced glutathione, unfavorable genetic messages become expressed. This often results in altered immunity and in inflammation, and contributes to ill health seen in diabetes, heart disease, cancer, viral infections, and autoimmune disease.
The role of reduced glutathione in cancer is particularly fascinating. The redox balance within cells is a major factor in the functioning of p53 tumor suppressor protein. This protein helps to prevent and to destroy cancer cells. When nuclear DNA undergoes mutation, p53 tumor suppressor protein slows cell division to allow repair proteins time to mend the genetic damage. This, in effect, results in the conversion of a premalignant cell back into a normal cell. If DNA sustains excessive damage, p53 tumor suppressor protein has a "plan B." It induces a process called apoptosis-programmed cell death. It actually causes cancerous cells to self-destruct! This is the way things work when the intracellular redox potential is normal. However, when reduced glutathione is lacking, p53 actually changes shape. It also changes function: instead of acting as a tumor suppressor, it acts as a tumor promoter!
Restoring adequate cellular levels of reduced glutathione can have a positive impact on tumor formation and progression. In vitro (test tube) studies have shown the addition of reduced glutathione to cancer cells to result in death of those cells by apoptosis and the transformation of precancerous cells to normal cells. There were no adverse effects on normal cells.
Numerous studies have examined the influence of supplemental reduced glutathione in animal tumor models. One such study, published in Science in 1981, involved the administration of a carcinogen, Aflatoxin B1, to a group of rats. At the dosage used, Aflatoxin B1 is known to produce liver cancer in 100 percent of rats after one year. Sixteen months after administration of the carcinogen, the rats were divided into two groups. One group was treated with reduced glutathione, the control group was not. Eight months later, there were no survivors in the control group. Eighty-one percent of the rats that had received reduced glutathione were still alive! Only three percent of these were found to have any tumorous tissue! Thus, reduced glutathione reversed liver cancer in this rat tumor model.
Obviously, having adequate reserves of reduced glutathione is of paramount importance. Unfortunately, there is a long list of factors that can overwhelm the body's capacity to manufacture sufficient reduced glutathione. Reduced glutathione can be depleted by: toxins, certain medications, ionizing radiation, stress, excessive exercise, insulin resistance, alcohol consumption, cigarette smoke, maldigestion, malabsorption, oxidative stress, various disease processes, poor nutrition, heavy metals, inactivity, infection, inflammation, and insufficiency of vitamins such as vitamins B2, C and E which regenerate oxidized to reduced glutathione. Neutralization of free radicals and chelation of heavy metals are preferential functions of reduced glutathione. As reduced glutathione becomes depleted, these activities are preserved at the expense of maintenance of the proper redox potential and other important cell regulatory functions. This potentially results in cell injury, cell death, and malignant transformation.
All this information would seem to indicate the need to supplement with reduced glutathione. However, reduced glutathione is a very labile molecule. It is prone to becoming inactivated upon exposure to acids, free radicals, light, oxygen, toxins, radiation, and minerals and heavy metals. Simply passing through the gastrointestinal tract can cause oxidation of reduced glutathione. Oxidized glutathione is of no benefit.
A group of German researchers has solved this problem. Recancostat contains not only reduced glutathione, but also anthocyans and the amino acid cysteine. The result is an extremely stabile product. The anthocyans are primarily responsible for this effect. Before we examine the qualities of Recancostat, let's first understand the biological effects of anthocyans.
Anthocyans are a group of chemical compounds of the bioflavonoid family, found in certain plants. They vary in color from orange-red to blue-black. Anthocyans have antioxidant activity. One study found them to inhibit lipid peroxidation more effectively than any other flavonoid tested. Orally ingested anthocyans, by absorbing the harmful effects of sunlight and radiation, can help prevent skin cancer. A fascinating observation involving anthocyans was made at Chernobyl - the site of the nuclear accident. Evergreen trees became red. Apparently, the radiation exposure stimulated the trees to increase their production of anthocyans in order to protect themselves!
The reduced glutathione-anthocyans combination in Recancostat is very powerful. An in vitro (test tube) study was performed to examine the effects of oxidation on these compounds. A linear dose-response relationship was found between increasing concentrations of free radicals and increased oxidation of reduced glutathione when tested alone. The same was found for the anthocyans. This was expected. However, when reduced glutathione was combined with anthocyans, there was a very different effect. Initially, upon exposure to free radicals, both the reduced glutathione and anthocyans became oxidized, as before. Within a few minutes, however, concentrations of both reduced glutathione and anthocyans rose dramatically. The same phenomenon was observed over and over again with the addition of increasingly greater quantities of free radicals to the reduced glutathione-anthocyans mixture. Each time the mixture became oxidized then spontaneously regenerated to the reduced form. Interestingly, this occurred in a non-linear, non-dose dependent manner. The practical implication of this is of paramount importance.
Supplements of reduced glutathione can easily be half oxidized at time of purchase. Recancostat has been found to be less than two percent oxidized at six months after manufacture. Upon ingestion, plain reduced glutathione may become further oxidized within the gastrointestinal system. Remember, only the reduced glutathione is of value to the body. Oxidized glutathione is actually a liability. The body attempts to regenerate oxidized to reduced glutathione within the cells. Vitamins C and E are among the antioxidants that donate electrons to oxidized glutathione in order to reduce it. In the process, these vitamins themselves become oxidized (free radicals). They, in turn, drain the redox potential and need reduced glutathione to regenerate them. This is not very efficient.
Anthocyans, because of their structure, have the ability to regenerate reduced glutathione without themselves becoming free radicals. This makes all the difference. Whether in a jar, or in the body, anthocyans keep glutathione in the reduced form. Reduced glutathione, in turn, protects anthocyans from oxidation. These two compounds share a unique self-regenerating redox recycling relationship. Recancostat, therefore, allows for the delivery of highly biologically active reduced glutathione to the cells, where it can help restore and optimize normal metabolic function.
Over 5,000 doctors in Europe use Recancostat. It has been available in Europe for more than six years. It has only been available in this country for about two years. One of the main conditions doctors use Recancostat for is the treatment of cancer. There have been many case reports that individuals have responded favorably, including complete cures of tumors that failed to respond to conventional treatment. Even in cases where tumors do not appear to respond to Recancostat, there is benefit. Patients routinely report increased vitality and overall well-being when taking Recancostat. There is a trial underway at the Curie Institute in Paris, investigating the effect of Recancostat in eight patients with metastatic colorectal cancer. These patients failed to respond to chemotherapy. Although one patient has died, the other seven have far exceeded their predicted life expectancy. Two patients are in remission. Significantly, all seven patients have improved in body weight, nutrition status, and physical functional ability, with three of them improving to the point where they were released from the hospital. All of this has happened without any toxic side effects. Recancostat can also be used in conjunction with routine cancer treatments. Recancostat reduces the toxicity from radiation treatment and chemotherapy and improves their effectiveness.
Recancostat is available through healthcare professionals. It needs to be taken on an empty stomach. Maintenance doses are 100 to 600 milligrams daily, in divided dosages. Higher doses, for serious conditions, should be monitored by a clinician. Minerals should not be taken too close in time to taking Recancostat. Supplementing with additional antioxidants such as vitamins C and E, carotenoids, and selenium can further enhance the efficacy of Recancostat.