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Inositol hexaphosphate is a chemical compound found in the husks of high fiber foods such as seeds, grains, and nuts. Also know as phytic acid or IP6, inositol hexaphosphate is widely distributed as a dietary supplement with claimed cell support and antioxidant benefits. Phytic acid is also believed to aid in the treatment of cancer, particularly that of the prostate, breast, and colon. Whatever the benefits of using IP6 may be, the chemical is a double edged sword as it may also lead to mineral deficiencies. This is caused by phytic acid binding with minerals such as calcium, zinc, and magnesium and reducing their bioavailability.
Inositol hexaphosphate is a phytonutrient extracted from high fiber food sources such as beans, brown rice, corn, sesame seeds, and wheat bran. The chemical serves as a phosphorous source in the plant and as a signal transfer agent and antioxidant in human cells. IP6 is also an effective chelating or binding agent and readily combines with many trace minerals. It is this chelating characteristic which has focused attention on inositol hexaphosphate as a potential cancer treatment.
The minerals which are combined with IP6 during chelation are rendered insoluble and therefore impossible to metabolize. This action is believed to starve cancer cells of minerals which are essential to their survival. Cancers of the breast, colon, and prostate have responded well to IP6 treatments in several clinical trials. Unfortunately it also has, as do most cancer treatments, undesirable side effects. It may be impossible to selectively target cancer cells with this type of treatment, and an overall mineral deficiency may arise from extended use.
The antioxidant characteristics of IP6 have also caught the attention of the health supplement market with several related studies having returned encouraging results. Antioxidants are essential elements in combating free radicals in the body. An adequate antioxidant intake promotes overall good health but has particular benefits in building healthy cardiac and circulatory systems. As mentioned previously however, users should be aware of the mineral depletion side effects of inositol hexaphosphate intake.
Osteoporosis sufferers should be especially wary of calcium depletion as calcium is one of the minerals particularly susceptible to chelation by IP6. If the use of IP6 is alternated with a regimen of mineral supplements and probiotics, the mineral depletion may be negated to a large extent. Inositol hexaphosphate is apparently beneficial as a free radical combating supplement but more documented scientific research is needed before its benefits as a cancer treatment can be confirmed. As with all supplements, a medical professional should be consulted before IP6 is used.