Glucuronidation and Cancer:

Jacob Schor, ND FABNO

written in 2003

            Glucuronidation is one of the most important Phase II conjugation pathways in the liver for detoxification and excretion of carcinogens, lipid soluble hormones and steroid hormones.  The liver, through a series of chemical reactions, attaches glucuronic acid to the target chemical and then excretes this chemical complex in the bile into the intestine.  (At this point the story turns into the script of a low grade suspense movie.  At the end, when you finally breathe a sigh of relief, the defeated murderer, monster, or whatever suddenly leaps back to life.  Once the liver has safely tied up these dangerous chemicals and dumped them into the sewer line, you might think the story was over.  Not by a long shot.) Beta-glucuronidase, an enzyme produced by intestinal bacteria, can break the bond between excreted ‘toxin’ and glucuronic acid. These excreted toxins and hormones that were history, are reactivated, quickly reabsorbed into the body, and are back to no good. 

           For disease, and especially cancer prevention, one wants low Beta-glucuronidase activity.  Beta-glucuronidase levels in the intestine can be measured as part of the evaluation performed in a digestive stool analysis.  If these levels are high, it is a prudent idea to lower them.

           Beta-glucuronidase can be lowered by establishing healthy bacterial flora in the intestine by eating a diet high in plant foods and supplementing the diet with the ‘friendly bacteria’, Lactobacillus acidophilus  and Bifodobacterium  bifidum.   Other dietary factors that dramatically decrease the activity of this enzyme are consumption of onions, garlic, and foods high in glucuronic acid like apples, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, lettuce and especially oranges.

           Glucuronic acid is available in pill form as Calcium D-glucarate.  Calcium D-glucarate indirectly inhibits the beta-glucuronidase enzyme dramatically preventing its ability to reactivate excreted toxins.

            Suggested as a possible magic bullet in prevention of breast cancer, especially in women who have already had one occurrence, in contrast to Tamoxifen, Calcium D-glucarate is completely safe and possibly more effective.

 Dose:     2,000 mg 2x/day for ER/PR positive.

-Heerdt AS, Young CW, Borgen PO, Calcium clucarate as a chemopreventive agent in breast cancer.  Israel Journal of Medical Sciences.  31(2-3): 101-5, 1995.

-Walaszek Z,  Potential use of D-glucaric acid derivatives in cancer prevention.  Cancer Letters   54(1-2):1-8, 1990

-Abbou-Issa H.  Moeschberger M, el-Masry W. Tejwani S. Curley RWJr. Webb TE.  Relative efficacy of glucarate on the initiation and promotion phases of rat mammary carcinogenesis.   Anticancer Research.  15(3):905-10, 1995.

-Murray. Breast Cancer:  Update on a growing Epidemic  Natural Medicine Journal. March 1999.  2(1);1-6