Is copper toxicity putting you at a greater risk for cancer?
Copper toxicity is the most common heavy metal I see on Hair Mineral Analysis of all the toxic elements but it wasn’t until recently that I learned of a link it has to cancers. I commonly see symptoms such as anxiety, acne, depression, mind racing, OCD, insomnia, candida, and even schizophrenia related to an abundance but this was a big one.
It is a catch 22 as we need copper for creating red blood cells, blood clotting, hormone production, killing bacteria or fungi, a long list of other functions including enzyme reactions. Maintaining the right balance is the key!
Understanding how our body cleans up damaged or old cells is an important part of why we do detoxification. It tries to “clean house” but with all of the environmental toxins in our food, air, water, and environment, we need to help it out. Let’s look deeper into the how and why!
What causes programmed cell death?
Here are a few examples:
- Apoptosis is the programmed cell death process used to remove cells that are damaged beyond repair and aids the body in preventing cancer. It may be caused from within or outside of a cell. Autophagy is where degrading cells are dismantled to remove damaged proteins to prevent further destruction, inflammation, or illness.
- Necrosis is a vast number of ways that cell death is processed but this form is usually a cell injury. Think of a heart attack cell starved for oxygen and nutrients dying when they burst, leak, and the contents dealt with appropriately. This form does cause inflammation.
- Entosis happens when a cell engulfs another destructively.
One form is Ferroptosis is genetically and biochemically different from other types of cell death but falls under the Entosis category. It is dependent on iron and triggered by accumulated lipid peroxides.
What are those? Oxidized (think rusty metal) fatty acids membranes that surround your cells
AND NEWLY FOUND-
- Cuprotosis is when cells die distinctly due to copper toxicity. This is only a recent discovery of this pathway in which cells may die.
How is copper toxicity related to cell death?
In 2019 there were 2 small molecules found to be copper-binding carriers that can kill particular drug-resistant cancer cells. Don’t get lost in the foreign words here, just understand what these molecules do.
- Elesclomol molecules were tried as a cancer drug treatment to kill cancer cells in a different pathway or manner than known.
- Ionophore molecules are completely dependent on copper to kill cells. If there is copper toxicity present it will have fuel for the fire, if none is available the process doesn’t happen. If you are in balance there will not be a toxic amount of copper for these molecules to cause havoc.
When these 2 toxic molecules (elesclomol and ionophores) cause cellular death, it leaves a free radical behind full of minerals and protein for it to grow on. When fueled by a diet high in carbohydrates and sugar, cancer can thrive. Even when other cell-killing pathways mentioned above were blocked, cells with copper-binding ionophores died due to their high level of toxicity.
Does copper toxicity cause cancer?
Cells that rely on your mitochondria (the engine of your cells) to make the energy called ATP. These mitochondria cells are 1,000 times more sensitive to copper than cells that are used to process glucose/sugar into energy. Even though sugar feeds cancer like rocket fuel, your copper can tip the scale toward developing cancer in a much larger way.
In excess, copper can be linked to poor neuron signaling, high cholesterol, low sex drive in women, high blood pressure, and possibly heart failure. Copper toxicity can dim nerve cell responses or hit the brakes altogether.
In a recent article written by MIT and Harvard[i], they found copper binds to specialized proteins causing long chains of dangerous clumps of copper.
“Copper is a double-edged sword: too little and cells can’t survive. But too much, and cells die. It’s been a mystery how excess copper is harmful, but we’ve finally figured it out,” said Golub, who is also a member of the faculty of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School.
How can certain genes be linked to copper toxicity and cancer?
Since discovering the connection between copper-induced cell death, elesclomol molecules could be a weapon against cancers such as those expressing the FDX1 gene. This gene encodes (like your computer software) a cell protein that elesclomol targets.
The research scientist Peter Tsvetkov mentioned in the study hopes these important findings will trigger more research into learning how copper affects cell biology, antibiotics, and cancers.
A genetic mutation can cause copper toxicity?
When copper is dysregulated we develop a serious disease such as cancer or Wilson’s Disease. This is a genetic, inherited copper disorder found in 1 of 200,000 people that causes accumulation in the organs and brain. Having one defective gene from a parent you won’t be affected but may pass it on. You must have a copy of the gene from both parents to become ill.
Common illnesses such as M.S., psychological issues (bipolar, depression, etc.), and Parkinson’s can appear with copper toxicity without being an indicator of Wilson’s Disease.
Why do I need to detoxify dead cells?
Copper naturally pushes iron down which is necessary for important metabolic enzymes. The effect is a toxic state of stress that eventually kills the cell. On the other end of the spectrum, iron feeds cancer.
Where does cancer like to steal energy, and nutrients, and grow? Dead cells or free radicals. Taking measures of detoxification modalities, specific dietary recommendations, and individualized supplementation learned from your Hair Analysis can help you to clean up to restore your health.
How can I stop my cells from dying?
We do need to expel tired and old cells to maintain homeostasis but there are some things you can do to strengthen the cells you have:
- Remove oxidative stress/free radicals with detoxification.
- Remove ROS (reactive oxygen species) created by fatty acid oxidation as mentioned above with SOD (superoxide dismutase) found in the supplement Protandim NRF2.
- Repair and encourage new mitochondria with Protandim NRF1.
- Remove copper toxicity by seeing which minerals you need to do so on a Hair Mineral Analysis.
- Start eating 6-9 cups of varieties of cooked vegetables daily for condensed nutrition.
- Fast 24 hours a week or a guided 5-day water fast to begin apoptosis.
If you would like to ensure you are not copper toxic or to start a mineral balancing program,
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