ALA – Alpha Lipoic Acid

Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA) and Cancer
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ALpha Lipoic Acid (ALA)

If we add plenty of fresh vegetables to our diet, plus ALA, vitamins A, E, and C, plus omega 3 fatty acids, and the anti-inflammatory drug celecoxib, this could improve the quality of life of cancer patients. It could also reduce tiredness, and increase appetite among other benefits. Alpha lipoic acid (ALA) is a naturally occurring compound in the human body, it is a cofactor in the process of metabolism, which plays a role in the production of energy in our cells. It is also a potent antioxidant and has been shown in medical studies to have clinical efficacy in the treatment of diabetes, vascular disease, hypertension, and cancer.

Antioxidant ALA

ALA is an antioxidant that prevents free radical damage to human cells and cellular aging. Food sources of ALA include yeast, and offal such as liver, spinach, broccoli, and potatoes. However, ALA in food does not appear to significantly increase ALA levels in the body. Some people take ALA supplements to improve various health conditions, but the scientific evidence for the health benefits of oral supplementation with ALA is inconclusive. Studies have shown that the absorption rate of oral doses of ALA supplements is only around 30-40%. ALA may be better absorbed if taken on an empty stomach; Therefore, an intravenous injection form of ALA might be suggested to obtain a relatively significant medical effect.

Application of ALA in Different medical conditions

Although research remains sparse, evidence suggests that ALA may have at least two positive benefits for people with type 2 diabetes. Some research suggests that alpha-lipoic acid supplements can increase the body’s sensitivity to insulin, which can lower blood sugar. ALA may help reduce symptoms of peripheral neuropathy – nerve damage caused by diabetes.

In Europe, ALA has been used for many years to relieve pain, burning, tingling, and numbness in the extremities caused by diabetic neuropathy. A large study has more strongly suggested that high-dose intravenous ALA can be effective in relieving those symptoms, but I believe more research is needed to establish the effectiveness of oral ALA supplementation for diabetic neuropathy.

Additionally, alpha-lipoic acid is thought to help slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease because it fights free radicals and suppresses inflammation. Especially in slowing the progression of carpal tunnel syndrome, it can also promote healthy nerve function, improve recovery outcomes from retro-carpal tunnel surgery, and relieve symptoms of diabetic neuropathy.

Therefore, high dosage vitamin c therapy, in Hong Kong and abroad, has widely been used in integrative therapy.


Although there are several studies showing favorable cytotoxic effects of ALA in vitro (laboratory), there are few prospective human studies in cancer patients. Currently known experiments indicate that ALA alone reduces cell viability and proliferation in breast, ovarian, colorectal, and lung cancer cell lines and is synergistic with chemotherapy. Additionally, ALA also reduced cell migration and invasion in thyroid cancer cell lines. However, in prostate cancer cells, ALA did not affect cell proliferation compared to controls.

In a mouse xenograft model, ALA alone inhibited tumor growth. In addition, combining ALA with hydroxy citrate has the effect of inhibiting multiple tumor types.

A 2005 study found that alpha-lipoic acid expands mitochondrial respiration in cancer cells in the colon. Cancer cells have mitochondrial dysfunction (mitochondria dysfunction), unable to produce oxygen through aerobic respiration. Lipoic acid has been shown to increase oxygen production within cancer cells, triggering accelerated death of cancer cells. It also triggers the mechanism of gene apoptosis (apoptosis) and eliminates mutated cells.

High dosage vitamin C in cancer treatment, has the potential to (1) reduce the side effect in traditional treatment (including nausea, loss of appetite, fatigue, depression, insomnia, dizziness, low immunity, weakness, etc.), and (2) support cancer patients for a better life quality.

Human Studies

Published medical reports indicate that ALA in combination with other anticancer drugs may have anticancer activity in patients with advanced metastatic cancer. According to a case series, 4 patients with pancreatic cancer were treated with intravenous ALA (300-600 mg twice weekly) plus oral low-dose naltrexone (4.5 mg once daily), and they have experienced significant progress in health status.

Studies have evaluated the effect of ALA on the overall outcomes of patients with several cancer types. A one-year single-arm study showed that by utilizing “ALA and N-acetyl cysteine ​​plus recombinant interleukin 2 (interleukin 2) and medroxyprogesterone” as therapy, the objective response rate reached 50%, and the median duration of response was 19 months.

There is also a study showing that cancer patients will have an improved quality of life if they eat a diet with a significant amount of fresh vegetables, plus ALA, vitamins A, E and C, plus omega 3 fatty acids and celecoxib, an anti-inflammatory drug. It helps reduce fatigue and increase appetite and offers other benefits.

In Conclusion

Although further randomized controlled trials are needed, preliminary studies suggest that ALA, especially in combination with other compounds, improves the quality of life and has some anticancer effects. Oral or intravenous ALA is well tolerated and does not appear to cause toxicity.


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