whey protein and cancer

Doug Skrecky (oberon@vcn.bc.ca)
Fri, 7 Aug 1998 21:53:11 -0700 (PDT)

Kennedy RS. Konok GP. Bounous G. Baruchel S. Lee TD. Institution
Department of Surgery, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. Title
The use of a whey
protein concentrate in the
treatment of patients with metastatic carcinoma: a phase I-II clinical study. Source
Anticancer Research. 15(6B):2643-9, 1995 Nov-Dec. Abstract
Glutathione (GSH) concentration is high in most tumour cells and this may be an important factor in resistance to chemotherapy. Previous in-vitro and animal experiments have shown a differential response of tumour versus normal cells to various cysteine delivery systems. More specifically, an in-vitro assay showed that at concentrations that induce GSH synthesis in normal human cells, a specially prepared whey protein concentrate,
Immunocal, caused GSH depletion and inhibition of proliferation in human breast cancer cells. On the basis of this information five patients with metastatic carcinoma of the breast, one of the pancreas and one of the liver were fed 30 grams of this whey protein concentrate daily for six months. In six patients the blood lymphocyte GSH levels were substantially above normal at the outset, reflecting high tumour GSH levels. Two patients (:1, :3) exhibited signs of tumour regression, normalization of haemoglobin and peripheral lymphocyte counts and a sustained drop of lymphocyte GSH levels towards normal. Two patients (:2, :7) showed stabilisation of the tumour, increased haemoglobin levels. In three patients (:4, :5, :6,) the disease progressed with a trend toward higher lymphocyte GSH levels. These results indicate that whey
protein concentrate might deplete tumour cells of GSH and render them more vulnerable to chemotherapy.