is potassium an overlooked anticarcinogen?

Doug Skrecky (
Wed, 24 Jun 1998 08:05:04 -0700 (PDT)

Jansson B.
Department of Biomathematics, University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer
Center, Houston 77030, USA.
Potassium, sodium, and cancer: a review. [Review] [12 refs]
Journal of Environmental Pathology, Toxicology & Oncology. 15(2-4):65-73,
Agents known or believed to be carcinogenic decrease the concentration of
potassium and increase the concentration of sodium in the
cells. Anticarcinogenic agents have the opposite effect. In all cases where
we have information on an agent's carcinogenicity or anticarcinogenicity and
on that agent's effects on cellular potassium and sodium
concentrations the above relationships have been found to be true. Dietary
carcinogenic agents studied include sodium, cadmium, fat, cholesterol,
calories, and alcohol; dietary anticarcinogenic agents include
potassium, vitamins A, C, and D, selenium, and fiber. The
effect of calcium intake is less clear as that effect depends on the
concentrations on sodium and potassium. Not only dietary
agents but also other carcinogenic and anticarcinogenic agents work in the
same way. The cancer-causing drug dimethylhydrazine increases sodium and
decreases potassium in the cells, whereas, for example,
indomethacin, an anticarcinogen, has the opposite effect. In aging
potassium leaves the cells, sodium enters them, and the
rates of cancer increase. Patients with hyperkalemic diseases (Parkinson,
Addison) have reduced cancer rates, and patients with hypokalemic diseases
(alcoholism, obesity, stress) have increased cancer rates. [References: 12]