CHLORELLA SHOWS PROMISE
AS ANTI-CANCER SUPPLEMENT
From The Cancer Chronicles #23
© Sept. 1994 by Ralph W. Moss, Ph.D.
Editor's note: We saw Dr. Merchant in Philadelphia in November, 1996. The
one patient referred to at the end of this article is still alive. Although
he by no means regards chlorella as a "cure-all," he still gave a generally
positive impression of the effect of this agent in cancer.
Chlorella is a one-celled marine vegetable that is often found
`blooming' on the surface of freshwater ponds in spring. To its detractors,
Chlorella is merely overpriced "pond scum." But, upon closer examination,
Chlorella shows great promise as a source of essential nutrients, a means
of detoxification, and a stimulator of the often flagging immune systems
of cancer patients.
Chlorella pyrenoidosa is the scientific name for a class of tiny unicellular
green algae. It is not to be confused with Spirulina, or blue-green algae,
the focus of FDA prosecution in the 1980s. (See FDA Consumer 3/85 and 7-8/86.)
In its nutritional composition, Chlorella rivals beefsteak, with 60 percent
protein; it includes all the essential amino acids, as well as liberal amounts
of 20 vitamins and minerals and Omega-3 and -6 fatty acids. Some would say
it's too bad it doesn't taste like steak, or the world would have adopted
it years ago.
The cell wall of the algae is deliberately broken in processing to liberate
the nutrients. But these indigestible cell walls have a special affinity
for heavy metals, such as mercury. Thus, Chlorella offers a unique means
of `chelating' or removing such harmful minerals, which some scientists believe
play a role in promoting chronic degenerative diseases, such as cancer.
Research into the health effects of Chlorella began in the 1950s. There were
reports on its successful use in Hansen's disease and in preventing the
development of liver necrosis in mice. Most algae research has been done
in Japan, where Chlorella is the top-selling supplement.
In the 1960s, it was found that Chlorella decreased the side effects of
chemotherapythere was far less damage to the immune system. Chlorella
also counteracts well-known carcinogens. At Japan's Kanazawa Medical College,
scientists gave Chlorella to mice, either before or after the implantation
of breast, ascites, or leukemic cancer cells. While all the control mice
died within 20 days of the implantation, animals receiving Chlorella lived
three times as long.
The main effect was seen when the supplement was given before the implantation
of the cancer cellsa good argument for its preventive use. Surviving
mice were then injected with implants of either the same tumor cells they
have previously received, or a different type. They resisted the re-implantation
of the same type of tumor, but not the new types. This strongly suggested
that Chlorella, which has no cancer-killing effects in the test-tube, exerts
its effects by enhancing the cellular immunity of the host animal.
Dr. Kanki Komiyama has also reported that an extract of Chlorella (called
Chlon A) "showed remarkable life prolongation effects in mice bearing Sarcoma
180 [cancer cells] with a broad optimal dose range." This extract, he wrote,
was "a potent modifier of some biological responses," such as the cancer-killing
ability of macrophage cells.
One clinical experiment with Chlorella took place at the Medical College
of Virginia (Phytotherapy Research 1990;4:220-231). Dr. Randall E. Merchant
and colleagues gave Chlorella to patients with various forms of deadly brain
cancer (e.g., malignant gliomas). These patients were advanced and had
conventionally incurable disease. After two years in the study, 7 out of
20 evaluable patients were alive and had yet to show any reappearance of
Dr. Merchant recently informed us that after the ending of his Chlorella research
grant in 1990 he did not follow up on these patients. For what it's worth,
however, he did encounter one of these patients recentlyalive and
well, and still taking her Chlorella, four years later.
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