Nitroglycerin is a drug that has been in medicine for more than a century. You probably know that doctors use it for coronary artery disease. But this is going to surprise you. Recent studies indicate that nitroglycerin might be a very helpful treatment for cancer.
Nitroglycerin works by increasing nitric oxide levels. Nitric oxide is a signaling molecule in the body that has all kinds of important effects. It works so well for the treatment of coronary artery disease because it improves blood flow, brings more oxygen into the tissues, and decreases the way platelets can cause blood clots. And it turns out that these same effects might be just the thing for cancer therapy as well. But that's not all nitric oxide does.
According to a recent article published just last year about nitric oxide and cancer, "Its vasoactive properties mean that it has the potential to exploit more fully the enhanced permeability and retention effect in delivering anti-cancer drugs to tumor tissues." That means that chemo drugs might work better when combined with nitroglycerin because the nitric oxide it produces can cause cancer cells to take up and retain the drugs better. And that means that lower, safer doses could be used. But there's more.
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Nitroglycerin also reduces a substance called HIF-1a in tumor tissues. And according to the authors, "This may have anti-angiogenic, pro-apoptotic, and anti-efflux effects." These "anti-angiogenic" effects mean that nitric oxide can prevent cancer cells from growing by stopping their blood supply.
"Pro-apoptotic" effects mean that the cancer cells will start to initiate programmed cell death just like normal cells. The main reason cancers kill people is because they won't stop growing because they have found a way to get around programmed cell death. Oncologists often use drugs to do the same thing. And "anti-efflux" effects refer to the fact that many cancer cells can spit out chemo drugs before they have enough time to kill the cell. Nitric oxide can work to stop that mechanism and thereby make the cancer drugs more effective. But here's the problem.
All this research is so new that there are not any really good studies showing doctors how to use nitroglycerin to fight cancer. But until we learn more there are several things we can do both to prevent and to treat cancer by raising nitric oxide levels that are simple, safe, and natural. The simplest and least expensive way is with regular, intense exercise. You can also do it by eating an abundance of green leafy vegetables and beets. And another way is to take a supplement called CircO2. CircO2 contains several herbs and cofactors that very effectively stimulate an increase in nitric oxide levels.
I'll have more detail on how nitric oxide stops cancer in the September issue of Second Opinion.
Yours for better health,
Frank Shallenberger, MD
Sukhatme V, Bouche G, et al. Repurposing Drugs in Oncology (ReDO)-nitroglycerin as an anti-cancer agent. Ecancermedicalscience. 2015 Aug 27;9:568.