In Part 1 of this series, we reviewed the discovery of coenzyme Q10 and the initial studies that established CoQ10 as a very effective natural therapy for the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease. In addition to being a powerful antioxidant, early studies also revealed that CoQ10 is an essential for the generation of cellular energy (ATP) within the mitochondria of every cell in the body with the exception of red blood cells.
Coenzyme Q10's dual functions (antioxidant and energy production) make it essential for the health of virtually all human tissues and organs. As a fat-soluble antioxidant, it protects proteins (like LDL-cholesterol), enzymes, fats (all cell walls/ membranes) and especially DNA from free radical damage. In terms of energy production, areas of the body with high rates of metabolic activity (high energy demands) such as the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain and immune system are especially sensitive to low levels of CoQ10.1
Coenzyme Q10 and Cancer/History
Early CoQ10-cell culture studies revealed that coenzyme Q10 resulted in an 80 percent reduction in the growth of cancer cells within 90 days.2 Animal studies published in the late 1990s reported that treatment with coenzyme Q10 resulted in suppression of tumor growth, reduced size and/or shrinkage of tumors and increased survival time.3,4,5
In the late 1980s, Dr. K. Folkers began analyzing coenzyme Q10 levels in cancer patients. His testing revealed that virtually all cancer patients have CoQ10 levels that are extremely low. In 1994, Drs. K. Lockwood and K. Folkers reported treating 32 "high-risk" breast cancer patients with antioxidants, fatty acids, and 90 mg. of CoQ10.
Six of the 32 women showed partial tumor regression. In one woman, the dosage of CoQ10 was increased to 390 mg. In one month, her tumor was no longer palpable and in another month, mammography confirmed the absence of tumor. Encouraged, another case having a verified breast tumor, after non-radical surgery and with verified residual tumor in the tumor bed was then treated with 300 mg. CoQ10. After three months, the patient was in excellent clinical condition and there was no residual tumor tissue.6
In 1996, William Judy and Dr. Folkers reported the results of a CoQ10-prostate cancer study. Their results revealed that men with prostate cancer who were treated with 600 mg of CoQ10 daily achieved dramatic reductions in both PSA and tumor size.7 An interesting aspect of this study is that the men did not begin to show any signs of response until about 90 days into the trial.
Several clinical trials have also reported that coenzyme Q10 substantially protects against and/or reduces side effects in patients undergoing various forms of chemotherapy.
A New Understanding of Cancer: In healthy cells, mitochondria utilize oxygen to produce energy. In cancer cells, energy production switches from away from oxygen and instead begins to utilize glucose/sugar for energy production. This was first discovered and explained by Otto Warburg, MD. Warburg was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1931 for discovering that cancer cells are low in oxygen because cellular respiration has switched from using oxygen to the fermentation of sugar. To summarize, healthy cells utilize oxygen to produce energy whereas cancer cells begin to utilize sugar for energy production. It is damage to mitochondria that causes this change in energy production.9
"Cancer as a Metabolic Disease: On the Origin, Management and Prevention of Cancer" is the title of a very important book written by Thomas N. Seyfried, MD. Dr. Seyfried advances Otto Warburg's theory of cancer in a way that revolutionizes our understanding of cancer. Up until now, most scientists have assumed that cancer is a genetic disease resulting from DNA mutations/damage.
Instead, Seyfried teaches us that cancer is a metabolic disease due to mitochondrial damage, which hinders the ability of cells to produce adequate energy. This causes the metabolic shift from oxygen to glucose for energy production, which is the hallmark of cancer cell metabolism.
Coenzyme Q10/Cancer Answer: Drs. Warburg and Seyfried did not explain coenzyme Q10's role in protecting mitochondria from free radical damage and in mitochondrial energy production. In this article, we will explain how CoQ10 deficiency results in mitochondrial damage that progresses to metabolic changes in energy production, which results in the origin and progression of cancer.
The Miracle Nutrient: Coenzyme Q10. Coenzyme Q10 plays two critical roles in this scenario. First, CoQ10 is required in several steps for energy production within mitochondria. Thus, coenzyme Q10 deficiency impairs mitochondria's ability to use oxygen for energy production. This causes a shift to using sugar, which characterizes cancer cell metabolism.
Secondly, CoQ10 is a powerful antioxidant that neutralizes free radicals. This is especially important in mitochondria, because more free radicals are generated in mitochondria during the process of energy production than anywhere else in the body. Thus, coenzyme Q10 deficiency is a "double whammy" in that it weakens mitochondria's ability to produce energy (like an engine running out of gas) while also accelerating free radical damage to mitochondrial DNA (causing damage to the engine so it cannot function).
Causes of Coenzyme Q10 Deficiency: The synthesis of coenzyme Q10 in the body is a complex process that requires multiple nutrients as cofactors. Over the past 80 years there has been a dramatic and continual decline in the nutritional content of our commercial/agricultural food supply. Reasons for this decline include:
a) Rising levels of atmospheric CO2 is causing reductions in the mineral content of plants.10
b) Massive use of pesticides and herbicides on agricultural crops, which kills the microbiome (bacteria) in the soil. Bacteria in the soil are necessary for the breakdown of organic matter and the delivery of nutrients into the plant.11
c) A high percentage of the food that Americans consume are highly processes. Food processing results in substantial losses of nutritional content of the foods.12
d) In "The Drug-Induced Nutrient Depletion Handbook," Ross Pelton lists multiple reports following classes of commonly prescribed drugs that cause depletion of coenzyme Q10: statin cholesterol-lowering drugs, oral contraceptives, hormone replacement therapy (HRT), drugs for diabetes, tricyclic antidepressants, major tranquilizers, beta-blockers, thiazide diuretics and vasodilators.13 Many more drugs probably deplete CoQ10, but just haven't been tested yet for their effect on CoQ10 biosynthesis.
e) Increasing age, after 20 years of age, reduces CoQ10 synthesis in man (International CoQ10 Association).
Other Therapeutic Applications: In addition to cardiovascular disease and cancer, studies have also been published showing that CoQ10 can provide therapeutic benefits in the following conditions: diabetes, radiation injury, periodontal disease, gastric ulcers, mitochondrial disorders, migraine headaches, obesity, kidney failure, acquired immune deficiency (AIDS), Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease.
CoQ10 and Life Extension: In addition to the many ways CoQ10 can help prevent and treat many disease conditions, it is also one of the most important nutrients for life extension and healthy longevity.
When you understand CoQ10's critical roles in protecting mitochondria and producing energy, it seems obvious that it would slow down the onset of chronic degenerative diseases and increase longevity with healthy additional years. Imagine a growing number of vibrant, energetic centenarians.
Coenzyme Q10 Doubles Lifespan in Mice: Emile Bliznakov, MD, who wrote "The Miracle Nutrient: Coenzyme Q10," conducted the following experiment. Dr. Bliznakov started his experiment with 100 "old" female white mice that were 16 to 18 months of age. One week for mice is roughly equivalent to one year of human life. Thus, the mice were in their 60s to 70s in human terms and already beginning to show some signs of decreased immunity and aging bodily functions.14
These old mice were divided into two groups of 50 and maintained on optimally nutritious diets. One group were controls while the second group were regularly given doses of CoQ10.
- At 28 weeks after the beginning of the study, 70 percent of the control mice had died compared to only 40 percent of the CoQ10-treated mice.
- At 36 weeks, 100 percent of the control mice were dead while about 40 percent of the CoQ10-treated mice were still alive and active with most not showing the normal signs of physical deterioration that are commonly associated with advanced age.
- At week 56, 10 percent of the CoQ10-treated mice were still thriving (2X longer than these mice would normally be expected to survive beyond the beginning of the experiment).
- At the 80th week (remember the last control mouse died at week 36), four mice were still alive; at the 82nd week, the last mouse died. In human terms, this is a life span of roughly 130 years of age!
Dr. Bliznakov explained the following remarkable visual differences between the two groups of mice towards the end when some of the control mice were still alive. The fur on the control mice that had not received CoQ10 had lost its sheen, became dull, coarse, matted and on some mice, clumps of hair had fallen out, leaving bald patchy spots and they were also very listless and spent most of their time lying around and not socializing. On the other hand, the fur in the coats of the CoQ10-treated mice remained smooth and soft, and they maintained a much greater level of activity and socialization. Another interesting feature was the fact that the CoQ10-treated mice still engaged in sexual activity whereas sexual activity had stopped among the control mice months earlier.
Human clinical life extension trials will be conducted in our lifetime. Several studies have reported CoQ10's therapeutic benefits in a wide range of disease states. This certainly suggests that CoQ10 enhances and extends life and improves quality of life. Three rather large clinical studies support the influence of CoQ10 on longevity. The first was a 30-year study that was completed by Dr. Folkers and Judy. In this study 500 congestive heart failure patients were divided into two groups. One group was treated with 200 mg CoQ10 daily and conventional therapy. The other group was treated with conventional therapy only. The conventional therapy group were all deceased in seven years. In the CoQ10 group 42 percent were still living at seven years. At 15 years, 24 percent were still living. At 30 years two individuals were still living. Both were in their late 90's and in good health. Both had been on CoQ10 for over 35 years and were only on a diuretic and CoQ10.
Other long-term studies have been conducted by Dr. Alihanen and his group in Sweden. In this study thousands of elderly patients were supplemented with CoQ10 for 10 years. The 10- year survival rate was 45 percent. In another study in Class III and IV congestive heart failure conducted by Dr. Sven Mortensen and his group showed a two-year survival compared to the control group of 48 percent. The morbidity was reduced by 52 percent and the classification of heart failure was reduced to Class II or I. The acute hospitalizations were reduced by 52 percent (Q-Symbio multicenter clinical trial 2014. A.J. Clinical Cardiology, 2014.
Ubiquinone/Ubiquinol: After the discovery of coenzyme Q10 (ubiquinone) in 1956, clinical trials began in the mid-1960s. In the ensuing half-century, the vast majority of clinical trials have been conducted with the ubiquinone, which is the oxidized form of CoQ10.
In 2006, the Kaneka Corporation in Japan began producing and marketing the ubiquinol (reduced) form of CoQ10 after learning how to stabilize the compound and keep it from oxidizing back to ubiquinone. Kaneka claims that the ubiquinol/ reduced form of CoQ10 is more active and better absorbed than ubiquinone. This has been a very successful marketing strategy for Kaneka, but actually, the claims are not scientifically correct.
There are several issues to discuss when confronting Kaneka's claims that ubiquinol is superior to ubiquinone. Many companies are private labeling Kaneka's ubiquinol CoQ10, which are substantially more expensive. However, studies reveal that when Kaneka's reduced CoQ10 is taken orally, it rapidly gets converted into ubiquinone in the stomach. Hence, people are paying more for ubiquinol, which actually gets converted back into ubiquinone when taken orally.
For a full explanation of the issues and controversies between ubiquinone and ubiquinol, read a report titled Coenzyme Q10 Facts or Fabrications by William Judy, Ph.D. Dr. Judy has been educating people around the world about the importance and benefits of coenzyme Q10 for over 40 years. He has also conducted CoQ10 clinical trials and served as a consultant for many companies on CoQ10 product formulations. Hence, he is well qualified to address both the scientific and the marketing issues related to the ubiquinone/ubiquinol controversy.
The Recrystallization Problem: Many CoQ10 products on the market have abysmally low rates of absorption. Here's the problem. The melting point of CoQ10 is about ten degrees higher than human body temperature, which is 98.60F. Hence, most coenzyme Q10 products crystallize in the softgel capsule after cooling to room temperature. Even CoQ10 products that are dissolved in oil by heating to 50 degrees centigrade recrystallize in the softgel capsule when cooled to room temperature. Crystals consist of many millions of single CoQ10 molecules. Humans can't absorb crystals. We can only absorb single molecules of any substance. This explains why CoQ10 products on the market do not achieve significant increases in plasma CoQ10 levels compared to that of the pure crystal free CoQ10 products.
Crystal Free Coenzyme Q10:
Crystal free CoQ10 is the new era in the CoQ10 industry. The dry powder CoQ10 entered the marketplace in 1974 as a comp softgel product. These were crystalline CoQ10 in an oil and water base. When CoQ10 was deregulated from a drug to a natural product in Japan the consumer market in Japan increased so significantly that the CoQ10 producers in Japan could not meet the world demand. The price of CoQ10 increased from $800 to $4500 a kilogram. In the USA almost no one could afford the CoQ10. Thus, the need for a more highly absorbable CoQ10 that could offset the poorly absorbed CoQ10 and its high price.
Three companies in the USA took the challenge and started developing a crystal free CoQ10 product between 2002 and 2006. All three products had different solvents and were crystal free at an encapsulation temperature of 50 degrees centigrade. Their single dose absorption was between six and eight percent of a 100 mg dose. However, when the capsules cooled to room temperature, two of these products recrystallized and the absorption and steady state bioavailability was no better than a crystalline CoQ10 in a lipid based softgel.
The higher absorbable CoQ10 and steady state bioavailable allows the consumer to attain the health benefits for the clinical conditions describes in Part I of this series. Two of the developed products were unstable and recrystallized in the softgel capsule. One remained viable as a pure crystal free product.
A crystal free product at body temperature manufactured in Scandinavia was used in a major long-term clinical trial in Sweden. This trial has continued for over 10 years in thousands of patients (Ailhagen Sweden). In this study, the 10-year survival was 50 percent. In a multi-center study in 500 class III and IV congestive heart failure patients the 250 in patients on CoQ10 and conventional therapy has a heart failure mortality rate 56 percent less than the control group on conventional therapy only. In this study, the morbidity was 48 percent less and the degree of failure was 58 percent less than the control group. The CoQ10 treated patients admitted to the hospital was 43 percent less than the conventionally treated patients (Q-symbio trial, Mortensen. Am J Clinical Cardiology. 2014). The new era of crystal free CoQ10 has proven that it has the potential to be effective in the management of congestive heart failure, age related degenerative diseases such as cancers, chronic fatigue, Parkinson's disease and high blood pressure.
The newest and most stable of the crystal free products, and the new therapeutic era for CoQ10 in the USA is marketed by the Cyto Health Company. It will soon be in the USA marketplace. For more information please call 941-920-2824.References:
- Saini R. Coenzyme Q10: The essential nutrient. J Pharm Bioallied Sci. 2011 Jul-Sep;3(3):466-467.
- Bliznakov E. (1986) "The Miracle Nutrient: Coenzyme Q10." New York. Bantam Books.
- 1995 Merck
- 1996 Duke Univ.
- 1997 North Carolina Univ
- Lockwood K, et al. Partial and complete regression of breast cancer in patients in relation to dosage of coenzyme Q10. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 1994 Mar 30;199(3):1504–8.
- 1996 Judy and Folkers
- 1984 Judy and Toth
- John AP. Dysfunctional mitochondria, not oxygen insufficiency, cause cancer cells to produce inordinate amounts of lactic acid: the impact of this on the treatment of cancer. Med Hypotheses. 2001;57:429–31
- Weigel, H. Plant quality declines as CO2 levels rise. eLife 2014;3:e03233.
- Aktar, W, et al. Impact of pesticides use in agriculture: their benefits and hazards. Interdiscip Toxicol. 2009 Mar;2(1):1–12.
- Karmas E, Harris RS. (Dec. 2012) Nutritional Evaluation of Food Processing. Springer Science & Business Media
- Pelton R, et al. (2001) "The Drug-Induced Nutrient Depletion Handbook." Macedonia, Ohio. Lexi-Comp.
- Bliznakov E. (1986) "The Miracle Nutrient: Coenzyme Q10." New York. Bantam Books.
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Ross Pelton, RPh, CNN
Ross Pelton, RPh, PhD, CCN is a pharmacist, a Certified Clinical Nutritionist, and a health educator. Ross has written ten books including How to Prevent Breast Cancer, Alternatives in Cancer Therapy, Mind Food and Smart Pills, The Nutritional Cost of Drugs (2nd edition), and The Pill Problem, How to Protect Your Health from the Side Effects of Oral Contraceptives. He is also the author of The Drug-Induced Nutrient Depletion Handbook, which is widely recognized as an important reference book for pharmacists, physicians and other healthcare professionals. Ross has actually written two books on the topic of drug-induced nutrient depletions and he is the world’s leading authority on this topic. In October 1999 Ross was named as one to the Top 50 Most Influential Pharmacists in the United States by American Druggist magazine. He is also a member of the Medical Advisory Board for the Life Extension Foundation. Ross is currently the Scientific Director for Essential Formulas, Incorporated based in Dallas, TX.