Joseph Keenan, MD believes the Malaysian sustainable palm oil-derived tocotrienols may suppress lymphoma, a cancer which develops in the lymphatic system. The former University of Minnesota professor and current emergency room physician described why this vitamin may be so effective at managing his non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and what he’d like to see as next steps, during his presentation at the 2015 Palm International Nutra-Cosmeceutical Conference (PINC).
Q: How prevalent is non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma?
Dr. Keenan: Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL) is the fifth most prevalent cancer in the United States, afflicting more than 70,000 people each year. A common subtype of this type of cancer is follicular non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma (fNHL) which makes up 30 percent of all NHL cases. Possibly related to a vitamin D3 deficiency, fNHL is most prevalent in the United States’, Canada’s and Northern Europe’s northern latitudes.
Q: In your PINC presentation, you explained that epigenetic factors may play a role in fNHL. Can you explain what this is?
Dr. Keenan: Epigenetic factors interact with genetic materials, but do not change the DNA sequence. They influence which genes should be “turned on” or expressed. Several factors have been shown to have an epigenetic effect on fNHL. Aspartame, glutamates, a high carbohydrate diet and stress may have a negative effect, while tocotrienols, probiotics, vitamins D and K and omega-3s may have a positive effect. Tocotrienols have been shown to have an effect on gene locus p53 which has been identified as a tumor suppression locus.
Q: What has initial tocotrienol research shown, regarding cancer suppression?
Dr. Keenan: Studies have shown tocotrienols may inhibit the growth of breast cancer cells, as well as prostate cancer cells in tissue cultures. Tocotrienols have also prolonged mice life span in cancer models. Additional clinical trials are underway.
Q: What are some of the other known benefits of tocotrienols?
Dr. Keenan: Tocotrienols have been shown to support brain health by decreasing white matter lesions. This anti-inflammatory nutrient also supports cardiovascular and skin health, and may play an anti-aging role. Malaysian sustainable palm oil is nature’s richest source of tocotrienols.
Q: What do you suggest are the next steps for tocotrienol research?
Dr. Keenan: I suggest studying the impact of daily tocotrienol supplementation on fNHL patients who are receiving ‘watch and wait’ treatment. I also suggest an additional study on patients who are about to initiate active treatment, using tocotrienols as an adjuvant.
Robin Miller is a health and nutrition editor with more than 30 years of industry experience. She researches and writes about the nutritional benefits of palm fruit oil, with the goal of giving readers factual, science-based information that will be useful in their daily lives.