Q: Our family has a history of cancer. What should we be paying attention to?
A: Be sure to get enough selenium, zinc, copper and iron. They are essential to the enzymes that prevent the ill effects of active oxygen.
Active oxygen has been associated with the formation of cancer, which is a disease caused by a sudden mutation in the genes of normal cells. Active oxygen not only oxidizes and destroys cell membranes, but damages the genes within the cells as well. When this happens, the cancer-causing genes are activated, turning normal cells into malignant cells.
In order to prevent damage by active oxygen, getting adequate amounts of the antioxidant vitamin E is obviously important. Equally important, however, is the role of such antioxidant enzymes such as superoxide dismutase, catalase and glutathione peroxidase that are produced within the body. As we grow older, however, the quantity produced decreases. Because these enzymes are built around a nucleus of zinc, copper, iron and selenium, when these minerals are in short supply, the enzymes lose their antioxidant effects.
Our bodies contain many enzymes that are necessary for keeping us alive. An essential element of more than 200 of these enzymes is the mineral zinc. Zinc is absolutely necessary for the synthesis of DNA and proteins, and for the secretion of various hormones such as insulin. It is also vital to the immune system and cell reproduction.
Zinc is found in oysters, unagi (eel), liver, nuts, such as almonds, and various grains.
Iron is the first mineral that comes to mind for the prevention of anemia. When there is an iron deficiency, the cells of our body become unable to take in sufficient oxygen. As a result, we feel easily fatigued, short of breath, dizzy and irritable. Iron, therefore, is vital to increasing our immunity to disease and resistance to stress.
(The information provided should not be construed as medical advice or instruction. Consult your physician before attempting any new program. Readers who fail to consult appropriate health authorities assume the risk of developing serious medical conditions.)