Can Molecular Hydrogen Help Against Cancer?

Cancer is one of the leading causes of death worldwide, and its incidence is still rising. Molecular hydrogen has been shown to exert antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, and since the occurrence and progression of cancer are closely related to oxidation and inflammation, hydrogen may play a role in the control of cancer. It is 'the one and only' antioxidant that can both penetrate the mitochondria and neutralize the reactive oxygen species (ROS) (Med Gas Res. 2020).



What Is Molecular Hydrogen?

H2 is a gas which forms when two hydrogen atoms bond together and become a hydrogen molecule. H2 is also called molecular hydrogen.

In 2007 and reported in a reputable journal (Nature Medicine. 2007) by a team in Japan, discovered that inhaled hydrogen gas could act as an antioxidant and protect the brain from free radicals. This sparked the interest in its potential health benefits worldwide and led to many published and on-going clinical research.

A search on the US National Library of Medicine will show over 3,000 published papers on "molecular hydrogen" in health and wellness. As of July 2020, there are more than 700 on-going studies related to "molecular hydrogen" on clinicaltrials.gov.

Following the landmark publication in Nature Medicine in 2007, many other studies regarding the potential application of hydrogen therapy on various conditions were subsequently published. Since the Japanese discovery, the effects of hydrogen have been researched in 63 diseases [Ref]!

Hydrogen is the smallest existent gas molecule. Because of this unique property, molecular hydrogen could penetrate into virtually every organ and cell in the body (including the brain) where it may have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, weight-loss, and anti-allergy activity [R, R].


Molecular Hydrogen and Cancer Research Timeline



1975 - Although hydrogen gas was studied as a therapy in a skin squamous carcinoma mouse model back in 1975 (Science. 1975), its potential in medical application has not been vastly explored.

2007 - Oshawa et al. reported that hydrogen could ameliorate cerebral ischemia-reperfusion injury by selectively reducing cytotoxic reactive oxygen species (ROS), including hydroxyl radical (•OH) and peroxynitrite (ONOO-) [Nat Med. 2007], which then provoked a worldwide attention.

2008 - In human cancer cells, hydrogen water suppressed tumor growth by reducing oxidative stress (Oncol Res. 2008). Hydrogen water also blocked the creation of new blood vessels in human lung cancer cells, preventing cancer from spreading and growing [Biol Pharm Bull. 2008].

2010 - Hydrogen water combined with increased temperature (hyperthermia) had a strong cancer-killing effect in cells [Oncol Rep. 2010].

2011 - A study of 49 patients (published in 2011) on radiation therapy for liver cancer, drinking hydrogen water (1.5 – 2 L/day) improved the patients’ quality of life and appetite. Hydrogen water could reduce oxidative stress and damage from radiation without compromising its cancer-killing effects [R].

2015 - In a lab study published in 2015 (PeerJ. 2015), hydrogen water administration improved the survival of mice with colon 26-induced cancer. Furthermore, hydrogen water enhanced cell death in cancer cells. Hydrogen water also increased the inhibitory effect of 5-FU on colon 26 cells. Additionally, high-content hydrogen water exhibited stronger anti-oxidative and anticancer activity than did the natural hydrogen water.

2017 -  A study (published in the Molecular and Clinical Oncology), evaluated the protective effect of hydrogen-rich water on liver function of colorectal cancer patients treated with chemotherapy in 152 patients. The hydrogen-rich water group exhibited protective effect against the chemotherapy related liver injury [R].

2019 - The first case report of hydrogen inhalation therapy in a patient with metastatic Gall Bladder Cancer was published by a team in China. The patient has gradually improved and has survived for more than 10 months (Onco Targets Ther. 2019).

In a review paper on hydrogen gas and cancer treatment, it was suggested that hydrogen gas may work alone or synergistically with other therapy to suppress tumor growth (Front Oncol. 2019).

In Japan, patients with stage IV colorectal cancer inhaled H2 gas for 3 h/day in their own homes and received chemotherapy. H2 gas improved progression-free survival and overall survival times (Oncol Rep. 2019).

In China, 82 patients with stage III and IV cancer (advanced cancer) were prospectively followed-up, after treatment with Hydrogen (H2) inhalation. No severe blood toxicity was observed. H2 Inhalation of H2 gas induced complete and partial remission in tumors of the 80 patients (Med Gas Res. 2019). Most of the cancer types are mainly solid tumors with 19 non-small cell lung cancer, 16 gynecological cancer, 11 hepato-cellular cancer, 10 breast cancer, 6 gastrointestinal cancer, 6 urological cancer and 8 other type of advanced cancer.

One clinical trial (NCT03818347) is now on-going to study hydrogen gas in cancer rehabilitation for multiple cancer types in China. 2 publications that are associated with this research data have been
published.

The first publication (Ann Palliat Med. 2019) was case reports of 3 nasopharyngeal cancer (NPC) patients with radiotherapy-induced hearing loss. This is the first study to show that, after treatment for nasopharyngeal carcinoma, hearing loss can be reduced using hydrogen-oxygen therapy.

The second publication (Med Gas Res. 2020), 58 patients with advanced non-small lung cancer were enrolled into 5 groups:
1) refused drug treatment (control group)
2) refused drug treatment (hydrogen therapy only)
3) H2 + chemotherapy, 
4) H2 + targeted therapy, and 
5) H2 + immunotherapy group.

After 16 months of follow-up, progression-free survival of the control group was lower than that of the H2-only group, and significantly lower than that of H2 + chemotherapy, H2 + targeted therapy, and H2 + immunotherapy groups.


Research Conclusion

More patients of each kind of cancers are required to validate the safety and effectiveness of molecular hydrogen. Further research will also clarify issues such as the optimal treatment regimen (dose, duration, mode of delivery and effectiveness of hydrogen rehabilitation combined with mainstream treatment) and the actual mechanism by which hydrogen treatment controls cancer.

Caution: Please take note that hydrogen gas is flammable at high concentration.


Hydrogen Water Safety, Dosage, Side effects

Hydrogen water is simply water that contains hydrogen molecules. Molecular hydrogen (H2) has no known side effects. It’s not toxic even at high concentrations. However, the long-term risks remain unknown until additional studies are carried out [R].

In most clinical studies, people drank 0.5 – 2 L of hydrogen water daily.

After drinking hydrogen water, about 40% of the H2 is absorbed by the body [R].

Disclaimer: All information presented is not intended to replace the guidance from your healthcare practitioner.


Where to Get Hydrogen Water in Malaysia?

You can purchase Izumio or Olemio hydrogen water from an authorised distributor in Malaysia. For more information, please feel free to WhatsApp: +60 12-749 2112.

Related: 
Category: Hydrogen Water

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