Multiple human health-beneficial effects have been related to highly phosphorylated inositol hexaphosphate (IP6). This naturally occurring carbohydrate and its parent compound, myo
-inositol (Ins), are abundantly present in plants, particularly in certain high-fiber diets, but also in mammalian cells, where they regulate important cellular functions. However, the striking and broad-spectrum anticancer activity of IP6, consistently demonstrated in different experimental models, has been in a spotlight of the scientific community dealing with the nutrition and cancer during the last several decades. First experiments were performed in colon cancer 30 years ago. Since then, it has been shown that IP6 reduces cell proliferation, induces apoptosis and differentiation of malignant cells with reversion to normal phenotype, affecting several critical molecular targets. Enhanced immunity and antioxidant properties also contribute to the tumor cell destruction. Although Ins possesses a modest anticancer potential, the best anticancer results were obtained from the combination of IP6 + Ins. Here we review the first experimental steps in colon cancer, when concepts and hypotheses were put together almost without real knowledge and present clinical studies, that were initiated in colon cancer patients. Available as a dietary supplement, IP6 + Ins has been shown to enhance the anticancer effect of conventional chemotherapy, controls cancer metastases, and improves quality of life in cancer patients. Emerging clinical and still vast amount of experimental data suggest its role either as an adjuvant or as an “alternative” to current chemotherapy for cancer.
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