Fermented Wheat Germ Found to be Anti-Cancer
Research has confirmed that fermented wheat germ is a viable cancer treatment with or without conventional therapy.
Studies show that the extract from fermented wheat germ is able to halt the growth of cancer cells.
Sourdough fermentation methods are worth considering as well. Let’s dig into the evidence a little.
Clinical cancer research on fermented wheat germ
Fermented wheat germ has been progressively studied for many years. For example, researchers from Florida’s Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute (Judson et al. 2012) also found that fermented wheat germ extract significantly inhibited ovarian cancer cell lines. The researchers tested the fermented wheat germ against no less than 12 ovarian cell lines.
Clinical testing has also been done on fermented wheat germ. A phase II clinical trial of fermented wheat germ was done by researchers from Russia’s N.N. Blokhin Cancer Research Center (Demidov et al. 2008) in conjunction with the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences.
The researchers gave a fermented wheat germ extract product (Avemar) together with conventional therapy to patients with melanoma – a type of skin cancer. The patients were classified as “high-risk” in terms of survival rates.
The patients given the fermented wheat germ extract for one year, and all the patients were followed for seven years after the treatment. The researchers found that the average survival was 66 months among those who took the fermented wheat germ extract, while the average survival was nearly 45 months among the control group – given conventional treatment without the wheat germ product.
The researchers also found that the fermented wheat germ patients had significantly less progression of their cancers. They had an average of nearly 56 months of no progression of their cancers, while the conventional-treatment group had an average of 30 progression-free months.
FWGE along with conventional treatment
A number of studies have shown that when fermented wheat germ extract is given with chemotherapy or surgery, survival rates are increased.
Research (Barabás et al. 2006) with oral cancer patients treated with surgery used fermented wheat germ extract (Avemar) daily for 12 months. Those taking the Avemar experienced an 85% reduced recurrence rate during the first year. At this point the patients stopped the Avemar supplementation. Five years later, their overall survival rate doubled compared to the control group.
Researchers from Hungary’s Uzsoki Teaching Hospital (Jakab et al. 2000) tested fermented wheat-germ extract (Avemar) with 30 colorectal cancer patients. The 18 control patients received either chemotherapy or no therapy.
The 12 remaining patients received the Avemar with or without chemotherapy. The wheat germ patients had an 82% reduction in recurrence rates and a 67% reduction in metastatic tumor progression. This group also had a 62% lower mortality rate.
Research from the School of Medicine at Hungary’s Semmelweis University (Garami et al. 2004) tested 22 children with febrile neutropenia in children being treated for pediatric solid tumors. During their chemotherapy, half were treated with fermented wheat-germ extract (Avemar) and the other half received typical care.
The researchers found after four years the that only 25 percent experienced episodes of febrile neutropenia while 43 percent of the control group did. Yet another study (Marcsek et al. 2004) tested Avemar against breast cancer cells in the lab along with tamoxifen. The researchers found those treated with the fermented wheat germ extract had significantly greater cancer cell death
Human cell lines tested
Research, from Italy’s University of Bari and Germany’s Martin Luther University (Rizzello et al. 2013) screened over 40 fermenting bacteria types and tested wheat germ fermented using traditional sourdough methods against raw wheat germ.
The laboratory research then tested these against multiple human cancer cell lines. They found that while the raw wheat germ had no anticancer potential, the fermented wheat germs showed significant inhibition of cancer cell growth.
The researchers commented:
“These results are comparable to those found for other well-known pharmaceutical preparations…”
There was a variance between the extent of cancer inhibition among the types of cancer tested, which included ovarian cancer, colon cancer and germ cell tumors. The researchers found that the fermented wheat germs inhibited ovarian cancer cells the most between the three, but all three were inhibited by the fermented line.
The research also found that two of the bacteria used in fermentation – bacteria normally found among fermented wheat germ – were especially productive because they produced an enzyme called beta-glucosidase. The two highest beta-glucosidase producing fermentation processes utilized the bacteria species Lactobacillus plantarum and Lactobacillus rossiae.
Beta-glucosidase is an enzyme that breaks down glucose and other plant matter, releasing their beneficial phytonutrients.
A couple of the beneficial phytonutrients released by the fermentation process of wheat germ are methoxybenzoquinone and dimethoxybenzoquinone. These are also referred to by biochemists as quinones. Quinones of different types are used in the body for metabolic purposes. One of the most famous of these is ubiquinone, also known as Coenzyme Q10 – or CoQ10.
But these quinones are also benzoquinones, as they have a benzene ring. This means they can be toxic in some cases, but in this case, they are toxic against cancer cancer cells.
This was described by the researchers:
“Quinones consist of a class of bioactive compounds with promising potential as components for anticancer chemoteraphy drugs.”
Fermented wheat germ blocks cancer feeding
Besides the cancer cytotoxic effects of benzoquinones produced by the fermentation process, one of the potential mechanisms of fermented wheat germ relates to its ability to block the cancer cell’s energy source – a process called glycolysis.
Glycolysis is a critical part of the process of converting glucose and oxygen into energy. To block this process among cancer cells means to smartly cut off their food source.
It should be noted that the bacteria used to ferment wheat germ – especially Lactobacillus plantarum – are normal inhabitants of healthy intestines. Lactobacillus plantarum and other species have also been used to ferment various other cultured foods over the centuries.
In other words, once again we find yet another indication of the wisdom of nature and our ancestors’ use of fermentation. Nature’s foods combined with probiotics – the process of fermentation which also takes place within a healthy gut – not only provides an array of readily available nutrients. They help prevent many of the diseases currently associated with our antimicrobial, overly-processed foods and lifestyles.
And in this case, fermented foods may well help treat the ravishes of cancer.
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Marcsek Z, Kocsis Z, Jakab M, Szende B, Tompa A. The efficacy of tamoxifen in estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer cells is enhanced by a medical nutriment. Cancer Biother Radiopharm. 2004 Dec;19(6):746-53. doi: 10.1089/cbr.2004.19.746.
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