Copper, Zinc, And Tumor Blood Vessels

Posted on Oct 4, 2014 in Research

Copper… Gorgeous on roofs and in sculpture. And I love skiing at Denver’s Copper Mountain. But copper in my cold water pipes or cookware? No thanks!

For tumors to grow, they need blood and the oxygen that it brings. Avastin targets tumor blood vessel development, but the blood vessels then come back as soon as the Avastin is stopped. So, what else targets tumor blood vessels?

Copper and Zinc

To grow new blood vessels, tumor cells need specific growth factors. To activate, these growth factors have to bind to copper. Copper is believed to be a key switch that turns on tumor blood vessel formation (angiogenesis).
Copper Depletion and Cancer Care
Copper chelation is a hot topic in cancer research.

Keeping Copper Away From Cancer Cells

Avoid it:
  • Pipe check: Look under the kitchen sink. Do you see copper pipes? For hot water, cold, or both?
  • Food: Limit or avoid shellfish and liver. Eat chocolate and nuts in moderation.
Keep it from absorbing:
  • Zinc competes with copper for absorption.
Remove it:
  • The drug tetrathiomolybdate (TM) binds and removes copper and is being studied in cancer clinical trials. TM is available for off label use as an experimental therapy. Consult an integrative oncology physician before use.
  • If you’re interested in TM therapy, ask your integrative oncology physician about doing labs to evaluate your zinc and copper levels.
  • Long term TM use decreases red and white blood cell counts and can raise liver enzymes. This is because small amounts of copper are needed for bone marrow function. Your integrative oncology physician can help determine if you are a good candidate for TM therapy.