Bone broth has been hailed as a superfood for its ability to heal the gut, improve digestion, beautify the skin, neutralize the effects of aging, boost metabolism, strengthen your nails and hair, and more. It offers virtually every health benefit short of helping you grow a few inches taller.
However, do the health benefits of bone broth extend to cancer prevention?
Let's get this disclaimer out of the way....
Bone broth is not a cure for cancer. Moreover, bone broth on its own has not been scientifically proven to prevent cancer. However, there are some nutrients that bone broth contains which show some anti-tumor potential in research studies.
Let's take a look at some of them and highlight their actions.
There are 19 amino acids in bone broth. (Give or take a couple.) Glycine is one of them. Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins in your body. Certain amino acids are better than others for building the matrix-like structural skeleton that gives shape to the most abundant protein in the human body, collagen.
Glycine, according to several studies, is integral for maintaining collagen, which keeps skin taut and joints supported.
Glycine also shows the potential to prevent ulcers. This research study demonstrates glycine protects the gastric mucosa against chemically and stress-induced ulcers and reduces gastric secretions (albeit in rats).
The researchers concluded that glycine possesses significant anti-ulcer and cyto- (cell) protective activity.
If you're wondering what ulcers have to do with cancer, according to a medical forum on the New York Times website, the main group of bacteria responsible for stomach ulcers (H. pylori), has been implicated in stomach cancer.
Lysine & Proline
Both the amino acids, lysine and proline are abundant in bone broth. This study on specific nutrients that may fight liver cancer suggests lysine and proline are natural inhibitors of ECM proteolysis. ECM proteolysis regulates tumor growth. Both these amino acids, suggests the research, have the potential to modulate tumor growth and expansion. The anti-tumor effect of proline and lysine stems from these amino acids' ability to strengthen connective tissue surrounding cancer cells by influencing collagen synthesis. "These two processes are essential for a tumor encapsulating effect," concluded the researchers, adding, "We have developed strategies to inhibit cancer development and its spread using naturally occurring nutrients such as lysine and proline...."
OK, maybe we should have titled this post, "Top Cancer Fighting Amino Acids," because glutamine is yet another protein building block that prevents your body's collagen from breaking down.
Glutamine is a precursor to glutathione. Often referred to in natural health articles as "The Master Antioxidant," glutathione is made up of three amino acids, one of which is glutamine. (The other two: cystine and the aforementioned glycine.)
Glutathione helps gobble up free radicals. Free radicals, when overabundant, may cause premature aging and disease. The amazing thing about glutathione is that these molecules get recycled in the liver and continue scavenging for free radicals.
Moreover, glutamine helps detoxify the body of heavy metals. If your cells and tissues are overloaded with harmful chemicals, both natural and synthetic, you're more susceptible for developing cancer. Some studies like this one suggest glutathione may help with mercury chelation (glutathione binds to the mercury so it can be eliminated from the body).
Another study concludes, "Glutathione protects tissues from free radical injury via detoxification of active species and/or repair of injury, and plays an important role in the metabolism of drugs and endogenous substances," while this study suggests glutathione may help protect the liver.
As for its effects specifically on cancer, this study says, "By conferring resistance to a number of chemotherapeutic drugs, elevated levels of glutathione in tumour cells are able to protect such cells in bone marrow, breast, colon, larynx and lung cancers." And this study summarizes glutathione's actions as such: "Elevated [glutathione] levels increase the antioxidant capacity and the resistance to oxidative stress as observed in many cancer cells."
You may not be familiar with alkyglycerols. But certainly you've heard of bone marrow. Bone marrow contains a type of fat, alkyglycerols. Shark liver oil contains this fat. Bone broth contains marrow, thus it also contains alkyglycerols. Obviously, it's a lot easier (and perhaps more ethical) to order our single-serve Bone Broth stick packs and K-Cups than shark liver oil.
This study says alkylglycerols display anti-cancer potential in several clinical trials and they have been a source of interest for the treatment of radiation-induced side effects. Moreover, these special fats may have the ability to boost the immune system.
Can Bone Broth Help Prevent Cancer? Conclusion
Again, it's imperative to emphasize these amino acids and nutrients do not suggest bone broth cures cancer nor does it prevent it. However, preliminary research clearly proves immune-enhancing benefits of these nutrients in bone broth.