By Jose Antonio, Ph.D.
"This new cancer-fighter derived
from fiber may also prove to be medicine for the new
- IP6 goes by the chemical name inositol
- IP6 is basically a sugar molecule with
phosphate groups attached.
- IP6 has been shown to inhibit various
cancers in humans and animals.
- IP6 has been shown to be an effective
treatment for kidney stones, high cholesterol and high
- Much of the scientific support for IP6
is derived from the research of noted scientists Abulkalam
Shamsuddin, M.D., of the University of Maryland School of
- Foods that contain significant amounts of IP6
include: soybeans, rice, sesame, beans, legumes, corn and
- IP6 will soon be available over the
- IP6 has no known toxic effects.
This year, 564,800 Americans are expected to die of cancer.
Although this number is alarming, the good news is that there
are sound ways to prevent this nation's No. 2 killer. And, a
recent discovery suggests a new natural treatment is on the
Research has long been espousing the benefits of soy in
fighting cancer. Only recently, however, are we beginning to
understand exactly why. Scientists have isolated a laundry
list of soy constituents that suppress carcinogenesis
including the Bowman-Birk inhibitor, beta sitosterol, and now,
inositol hexaphosphate (IP6) or phytic acid.
Currently, there are a growing number of studies that
support IP6's cancer-fighting properties. Additionally, IP6
has been shown to have potent antioxidant properties and to
help treat kidney stones as well as high cholesterol and lipid
What is it, and How Does it Work?
IP6, a ubiquitous substance found in virtually all mammals,
is composed of the sugar inositol with six phosphate groups
attached to it.
It is also an important component of cereals and legumes
and may be the active ingredient in fiber that is
anti-carcinogenic. The typical American diet is low in dietary
fiber and relatively high in fat. It is not clear if the
increased incidence of cancer is due to high fat intake, low
fiber or both. Finland is one country in which the people tend
to consume both a high-fat and high-fiber diet, and the risk
of dying from breast cancer in Finnish women is lower than
American women. Thus, it would seem that eating lots of fiber
may be critical to preventing cancer.
What We Know Now
A study done by scientists at the University of Maryland
School of Medicine in Baltimore examined whether a high-fiber
diet reduced the amount of tumor cells in rats. Rats were
divided into five groups and fed a diet that contained 0
percent, 5 percent, 10 percent or 20 percent Kellogg's
All-Bran cereal; a fifth group received .4 percent IP6 in
their drinking water; and amount equal to 20 percent bran.
After 29 weeks, they found that in the 5 to 20 percent bran
cereal groups, tumor incidence decreased 11 to 17 percent.
Oddly enough, the rats that ate the least amount of bran had a
lower tumor incidence than the group that ate the most bran.
So from this, researchers could at least conclude that there
was not a dose-response inhibition of the high-bran diet. This
means that we may not need to stuff ourselves full of bran
cereal in the morning in order to get the health benefits.
But what if we drank the IP6? Rats that were given IP6 in
their water had an even lower incidence of tumor formation. In
fact, drinking IP6 seemed to work twice as well as eating the
IP6 has been introduced by mouth, by injection
directly into tumors, intramuscular injection, intraperitoneal
injection, etc. And regardless of how IP6 was given, it
consistently had the same effects, whether it was tested on a
colon-cancer model, a breast-cancer model, smooth-muscle
cells, skeletal muscle tumors, liver cancers, etc.
In addition to animal studies, there are
several human studies that have shown that IP6 inhibits growth
of human prostate cancer cells and adenocarcinoma. Scientists
have observed that cancer cells can revert back to normal
cells in the presence of IP6. It should be pointed out that
most of the research has been done with animals; in order for
IP6 to gain greater support by the medical community, more
human trials are needed.
One Scientist's Discovery
Abulkalam Shamsuddin, M.D., of the University of Maryland
School of Medicine, is one of the leading authorities on IP6.
He has an extensive scientific publication record on the topic
of IP6. He reports his findings in his book IP6--Nature's
Revolutionary Cancer Fighter (Kensington, 1998).
According to Shamsuddin, the best evidence for the role of IP6
in fighting cancer is found in the comparison of cancer rates
in Danish and Finnish populations. The fiber consumption of
the Danes in nearly twice that of the Finns, yet the incidence
of cancer in Danes is twice that of the Finns. This discovery
suggests that the quality of fiber may be more important than
the quantity of fiber consumed. Shamsuddin says, "The
Finns actually eat a lot of porridge, which is where you have
a lot of IP6... You see the Danes eat a lot of Fiber, and that
fiber does not have IP6."
Where Can I Get IP6?
Most IP6 is derived from cereals. Corn apparently has the
highest concentration of IP6 (~6 percent), followed by sesame
(5 percent), wheat (2 to 3 percent) and rice (2 percent).
As of this printing, IP6 should now be available in pill or
powder form. The advantage of taking a pill over food is that
not all IP6 is absorbed from food. For instance, if you eat
100 gm of rice, not all of the 2 gm of IP6 present in that
rice will be absorbed.
Although Shamsuddin admits that more research needs to be
done before more specific dosage recommendations are given, he
does provide the following guidelines. For prevention, a
normal, healthy individual, should take 1 to 2 gm daily.
Individuals with greater risk for cancer (due either to
heredity predisposition or lifestyle factors), should take 4
gm daily as a preventive measure. If you want to make IP6 part
of your treatment for cancer, take up to 8 gm daily (dose
depends on stage of cancer).
Editor's note: Individuals should seek the guidance of
their health-care practitioners in creating a
preventive/treatment plan for cancer.
Any Possible Toxicity?
According to Shamsuddin, "There are no known harmful
side effects of IP6." Suffice it to say that moderation
seems to work well for most things in life, and certainly, IP6
is no different.
Shamsuddin, A.M. et al. "IP6: A Novel Anti-Cancer
Agent," Life Sciences, 1997; 61:343-54.
Vucenik, I. et al., "Comparison of Pure Inositol
Hexaphosphate and High-Bran Diet in the Prevention of DMBA-Induced
Rat Mammary arcinogenesis," Nutrition and Cancer,