Can Strong, Healthy Collagen Help Ward Off Cancer Proliferation?
Collagen is everywhere. Collagen is derived from the Greek word “Kolla,” meaning “glue,” and gene. It is a fibrous structural protein that makes up the white fibers of the skin, bones, cartilage, and all other connective tissues and is found widespread in the body’s gelatinous substances . Also, pound-for-pound, collagen is more durable than steel . Yet, it remains flexible and giving. When collagen is strong and healthy, it can be an impenetrable barrier that cancer cells cannot break though   . This protective barrier is vital for cancer survival because 90% of cancer deaths are caused by metastases [the spread of cancer to another location] to other tissues and organs . So, collagen offers a remarkable protective function.
Some doctors have noted that for cancerous cells migrate, they must secrete enzymes that degrade collagen’s protective barrier, making it easier for cancer cells to spread to other organs . However, there is a flip-side: while healthy collagen may halt cancer spread, weak collagen can work with cancer and promote the spread.
In a study published in Tumor Biology, researchers noted that collagen is a double-edged sword and can be recruited by cancer, triggering a cascade of biological events that lead to cancer proliferation . Thus, from a larger picture, cancer is much larger than just tumor cells; cancer is a metabolic imbalance, where epigenetics, nutrition, and the cellular environment are vital players in cancer development. This point can help explain why merely 10% of cancers are genetically inherited because cancer is curiously efficient at manipulating its cellular environment . Research, too, supports this point. In a 2012 study, researchers noted, “Diet is the most important factor for the formation and prevention of cancer” . One’s diet is much more influential on their cancer risk than their genetics  .
And an intake of one nutrient won’t magically strengthen one’s collagen. In a study published in Cancer Metastasis Reviews, researchers stated, “We have developed strategies to inhibit cancer development and its spread by targeting common mechanisms used by all types of cancer cells that decrease stability and integrity of connective tissue” .
“Strengthening of collagen and connective tissue can be achieved naturally through the synergistic effects of selected nutrients, such as lysine, proline, ascorbic acid and green tea extract. ” Here, the researchers highlighted that it is not the effect of a single nutrient that increased collagen health, it is the synergy of them working together.
So, what do you need to do?
First, the body has at least 16 types of collagen, but 80-90% is type I, II, or III . All varieties are composed of many nutrients that are only available through diet, meaning the body cannot manufacture them. The three essential nutrients, though, are ascorbic acid, proline, and lysine. Ascorbic acid is vitamin C, and proline and lysine are amino acids. A deficiency in any of these could weaken collagen and open the door to cancer metastases and proliferation.
Second, while it is crucial to consume an adequate amount of these nutrients through supplementation or diet, it is equally important to eliminate bad habits that deplete vitamin C and weaken collagen.
Avoid Sugar and Chose Complex Carbohydrates. Advanced Glycation End-Products (AGEs) are created by the body during reducing sugars, where sugars attach to proteins and then target collagen, making it weak . People with type-2 diabetes and those with increased blood sugar levels have an increased level of AGEs, and AGEs are associated with a wide range of clinical disorders, including connective tissue disease . In a 2014 study, researchers noted, “Advanced glycation end-products (AGE) contribute to age-related connective tissue damage and functional deficit. The documented association between AGE formation on collagens and the correlated progressive stiffening of tissues has widely been presumed causative, despite the lack of mechanistic understanding” . So, while AGEs are formed naturally when a person’s diet is high in sugar or simple carbohydrates, this process is intensified. Thus, the best defense is to have a diet high in complex carbohydrates, such as peas, beans, whole grains, and vegetables, that slowly turn to sugar and avoid sugary food.
Quit Smoking. Smoking significantly depreciates the body's integumentary system's health, such as hair, skin, and nails  . As a result, collagen levels are adversely impacted because the body uses collagen to repair the damage done to hair, skin, and nails. Plus, smoking depletes the body's level of ascorbic acid, a vital collagen ingredient   .
Consume Adequate Levels of Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C), Lysine, Proline, and Supporting Nutrients. Researchers  noted that combining ascorbic acid, lysine, proline, green tea extract, and quercetin provides the body with the necessary ingredients to strengthen its collagen . Ascorbic acid rejuvenates cells and the collagen matrix and protects them from free radicals and cancer cells. Lysine helps to build collagen and blocks the enzymes that tumors secrete to break down collagen and spread. Proline works with lysine to help make collagen more stable and promotes collagen healing .
Healthmasters offers a couple vitamin C supplements, including Healthmasters’ Vitamin C and Healthmasters’ Vitamin C Powder. Healthmasters also offers a lysine product.
Supplement with L-Arginine. Arginine is a precursor of nitric oxide (NO), so any deficiency of arginine can limit the production of NO, which has been shown to commonly act as an inducer of apoptosis [the death of cells], as in breast cancer cells . NO is also a critical compound for wound healing, skin damage repair, and performs a vital role in proline synthesis  . Healthmasters’ HGH Stimulate contains 2g of arginine per scoop, which makes it an excellent arginine supplement. Further, because arginine increases NO, it is often used to promote healthy cardiovascular function.
Supplement with Niacin (Vitamin B3). Niacin has been found to help prevent the degradation of collagen in cancer environments . Niacin has also been shown to reduce glycation, the process that creates AGEs  , and improve glucose control and alleviated oxidative stress and DNA damage in hyperglycemic patients . Still, taking a niacin supplement does not mean that someone can take niacin and avoid the harmful effects of a high-sugar diet. Healthmasters’ Vascular Relaxant is a sustained-release niacin supplement that does not cause skin flushing, typically caused by cheaper niacin supplements.
There is no doubt that there is a connection between weak collagen and cancer proliferation and spread. Research has shown that weak collagen can let cancer spread to other organs, so ensuring that one’s nutrient intake is sufficient for healthy collagen growth may be an easy decision for cancer prevention.
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* This article is for informational purposes only. By providing the information herein, Healthmasters and its associates are not diagnosing, treating, curing, mitigating, or preventing any disease or medical condition. Before beginning any natural, integrative, or conventional treatment or regime, it is advisable to seek the advice of a licensed healthcare professional