Hydrogen is Serious Medicine for Cancer

Published on November 5, 2018

It is hard to lose with hydrogen. Hydrogen gas (H2) benefits cancer patients through prevention. It also helps us fight cancer directly minimizing its spread. Useful as an effective adjunct to radiation and chemotherapy treatments. It is easy to imagine hydrogen improving the quality of life of patients receiving cancer treatment. Hydrogen gas inhalation is a powerful yet gentle therapeutic process. Conditions improve faster if hydrogen and oxygen are fed continuously. Hydrogen is the ultimate warrior against death and disease and is a perfect partner with oxygen, which itself is a perfect partner with CO2. These gases, when weaponized as potent medicines, are lethal to cancer.

The most recent research out of China suggests that molecular hydrogen may exert anti-tumor role in ovarian cancer through suppressing the proliferation of CSCs-like cells and angiogenesis. In animal studies, 6 weeks of hydrogen inhalation significantly inhibited tumor growth, as evidenced by decreased mean tumor volume (32.30%) and Ki67 expression (30.00%). Hydrogen treatment decreased the expression of CD34 (74.00%) demonstrating its anti-angiogenesis effects.[1] The in vitro study showed that hydrogen treatment significantly inhibits cancer cell proliferation, invasion, migration and colony formation both in Hs38.T and PA-1 cells.

In 1975, an impressive study demonstrated that hyperbaric molecular hydrogen therapy could be a possible treatment for cancer. In this study, the researchers showed that exposing mice with skin cancer (tumors) to 2.5 percent oxygen (O2) and 97.5 hydrogen (H2) for two weeks produced a dramatic and significant regression of the mice tumors. This is even more hydrogen than given to deep sea divers.

“After a first 10-day period of exposure of the mice to the hydrogen-oxygen therapy it was found qualitatively that the tumors had turned black, that some had dropped off, that some seemed to have shrunk at their base and to be in the process of being ‘pinched off, and that the mice appeared to suffer no deleterious consequences.”[2]

A similar effect of hyperbaric hydrogen on leukemia was reported in 1978.[3] An anti-inflammatory effect of hyperbaric hydrogen on a mouse model of schistosomiasis-associated chronic liver inflammation was also reported in 2001.[4]

Hydrogen is a new method for the treatment of lung cancer.

“H2 inhibited cell viability, migration and invasion, and catalyzed cell apoptosis and H2 induced A549 and H1975 cells G2/M arrest. Besides, H2 down-regulated the expression of NIBPL, SMC3, SMC5 and SMC6, and also reduced the expression of Cyclin D1, CDK4 and CDK6. In addition, inhibition of the proliferation, migration and invasion and promotion of the apoptosis of A549 and H1975 cells induced by H2 were all abolished when overexpressed SMC3 in the presence of H2. Animal experimental assay demonstrated that the tumor weight in H2 group was significantly smaller than that in control group. All data suggested that H2 inhibited lung cancer progression through down-regulating SMC3, a regulator for chromosome condensation, which provided a new method for the treatment of lung cancer.”[5]

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Oxidative stress in the cell results from the strong oxidizing potential of excess reactive oxygen species (ROS). Acute oxidative stress may result from various conditions, such as vigorous exercise, inflammation, ischemia and reperfusion (I/R) injury, surgical bleeding, and tissue transplantation. Chronic/persistent oxidative stress is closely related to the pathogenesis of many lifestyle-related diseases, aging, and cancer.

Hydrogen is the most perfect medicine for oxidative stress. Hydrogen therapy takes down the fires of inflammation; thus, we can see another reason why hydrogen is a serious medicine for cancer. The story of hydrogen as a medicine officially began in 2007 when Ohsawa and colleagues discovered that H2 has antioxidant properties that protect the brain against I/R injury and stroke by selectively neutralizing hydroxyl radicals.[6] However, as we saw above, scientists were on hydrogens tail decades earlier.

If H2 reduces oxidative stress, then we can also say H2 protects DNA because oxidative stress damages cellular DNA which leads to mutations. ROS cause oxidative DNA and protein damage as well as damage to tumor suppressor genes. Unlike other antioxidants which are larger, the tiny size of H2 molecules allows them to penetrate bio-membranes and diffuse into the mitochondria and nuclei thereby protecting the nuclear DNA and mitochondria.

ROS cause damages to cell structures via oxidative stress. While a cancer drug like Cisplatin is effective in killing bad cancer cells, it also caused harm to other cells in your body through oxidative stress. Hence, the question is how do you prevent good cells in your body from being killed while the cancer drug is doing its job to kill the cancer cells? The answer is hydrogen gas to introduce continuous antioxidant protection to reduce the oxidative stress to the good non-cancerous cells in your body. And interesting enough we find research that says that molecular hydrogen alleviates nephrotoxicity induced by an anti-cancer drug cisplatin without compromising anti-tumor activity in mice.[7]

It has been reported that human tumor cells produce reactive oxygen species (ROS) more abundantly than non-transformed cell lines, and an elevated oxidative stress has been found in many different types of cancer cells. In fact, many evidences suggest that ROS are related to diverse abilities of cancer cells which increase cell proliferation, DNA synthesis, survival, cellular migration, invasion, tumor metastasis and angiogenesis.[8] So anything that will reduce ROS on a consistent enough basis is going to be ideal for cancer treatment.

Hydrogen has been shown to suppress VEGF (Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor), a key mediator of tumor angiogenesis (the development of new blood vessels), by the reduction of excessive ROS (oxidative stress) and through the down regulation of ERK (key growth factor needed for cellular division).

More Science on Hydrogen and Cancer

Scientists have also found that molecular hydrogen caused growth inhibition of human tongue carcinoma cells HSC-4 and human fibrosarcoma cells HT-1080 but did not compromise growth of normal human tongue epithelial-like cells DOK. Hydrogen has also been shown to protect BALB/c mice from developing radiation-induced thymic lymphoma. The elimination of radical oxygen species by hydrogen should reduce a probability of introducing somatic mutations.”[9] 

H2 has been shown to reduce the excessive expressions of MMP genes (MMP proteins are involved in multiple functions in cells, including cell proliferation, cartilage synthesis, apoptosis, angiogenesis, etc.). We know that cancerous cells have a higher expression of MMP genes leading to tumor invasion and tumor angiogenesis. H2 has been shown to reduce tumor invasion and tumor growth. Because of this effect, H2 has been shown to have anti-tumor effects.[10],[11]

“ERW hydrogen water causes telomere shortening in cancer cells and suppresses tumor angiogenesis by scavenging intracellular ROS and suppressing the gene expression and secretion of vascular endothelial growth factor. In addition, ERW induces apoptosis together with glutathione in human leukemia HL60 cells (Tsai et al. 2009ab).”[12] 

“Treatment with H2 water increased the expression of p-AMPK, AIF and Caspase 3 (cell apoptosis pathways) in colon 26 cells. Thus, H2 water resulted in cell apoptosis mediated by the AMPK pathway in colon 26 cells”.[13]

Molecular hydrogen may protect and retard the development of thymic lymphoma in mice. “The radiation-induced thymic lymphoma rate in the H2 (+) group was significantly lower than in the control group and H2 treatment significantly increased the latency of lymphoma development after the split-dose irradiation. These data indicated that H2 protects mice from radiation-induced thymic lymphoma in BALB/c mice.”[14]

“Molecular hydrogen caused growth inhibition of human tongue carcinoma cells HSC-4 (cancerous) and human fibrosarcoma cells HT-1080 (cancerous) but did not compromise growth of normal human tongue epithelial-like cells DOK.”[15] The Molecular Hydrogen Foundation provides more hydrogen and cancer studies.

Higher levels of hydrogen have been shown to protect DNA against oxidative damage by suppressing single-strand breakage of DNA caused by ROS, and to protect against oxidative damage to RNA and proteins.[16]

Hydrogen for Cancer Patients Receiving Radiotherapy

Nearly half of newly diagnosed cancer patients receive radiotherapy. While radiotherapy destroys malignant cells, it also affects normal surrounding cells. Acute radiotherapy side effects include: fatigue, nausea, diarrhea, dry mouth, loss of appetite, hair loss, sore skin, and depression. The side effects are associated with increased oxidative stress and inflammation due to the generation of ROS during radiotherapy.

The consumption of hydrogen-rich water for 6 weeks reduced reactive oxygen metabolites in the blood and maintained blood oxidation potential. QOL scores during radiotherapy were significantly improved in patients treated with hydrogen-rich water compared to patients receiving placebo water.[17]

Molecular hydrogen protects healthy tissue/cells from anticancer drugs and has been shown through studies to have a protective effect against chemotherapy drugs. Hydrogen has potential for improving the quality of life of patients during chemotherapy by efficiently mitigating the side effects of cisplatin.”[18]

[1] Vol 7, No 4 (August 2018) / Therapeutic potential of molecular hydrogen in ovarian cancer

[2] Hyperbaric Hydrogen Therapy: A Possible Treatment for Cancer Author(s): Malcolm Dole, F. Ray Wilson, William P. Fife Source: Science, New Series, Vol. 190, No. 4210 (Oct. 10, 1975), pp. 152-154

[3] Roberts BJ, Fife WP, Corbett TH, Schabel Jr FM. Response of five established solid transplantable mouse tumors and one mouse leukemia to hyperbaric hydrogen. Cancer Treat Rep. 1978;62(7):1077–9.

[4] Gharib B, Hanna S, Abdallahi OM, Lepidi H, Gardette B, De Reggi M. Anti-inflammatory properties of molecular hydrogen: investigation on parasite-induced liver inflammation. C R Acad Sci III. 2001;324(8):719–24.

[5] Biomed Pharmacother. 2018 Aug;104:788-797. doi: 10.1016/j.biopha.2018.05.055. Epub 2018 May 29.

Hydrogen gas inhibits lung cancer progression through targeting SMC3.

[6] Hydrogen acts as a therapeutic antioxidant by selectively reducing cytotoxic oxygen radicals.

Ohsawa I, Ishikawa M, Takahashi K, Watanabe M, Nishimaki K, Yamagata K, Katsura K, Katayama Y, Asoh S, Ohta S. Nat Med. 2007 Jun; 13(6):688-94.

[7] Molecular hydrogen alleviates nephrotoxicity induced by an anti-cancer drug cisplatin without compromising anti-tumor activity in mice Published 2008 in Cancer Chemotherapy and Pharmacology


[9] Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2012; 2012: 353152. Molecular Hydrogen as an Emerging Therapeutic Medical Gas for Neurodegenerative and Other Diseases

[10] Med Gas Res. 2011; 1: 18. Molecular hydrogen protects chondrocytes from oxidative stress and indirectly alters gene expressions through reducing peroxynitrite derived from nitric oxide

[11] Expression of Metalloproteinases MMP-2 and MMP-9 in Sentinel Lymph Node and Serum of Patients with Metastatic and Non-Metastatic Breast Cancer

[12] Cytotechnology. 2012 May; 64(3): 357–371. Suppressive effects of electrochemically reduced water on matrix metalloproteinase-2 activities and in vitro invasion of human fibrosarcoma HT1080 cells

[13] PeerJ. 2015; 3: e859. Hydrogen–water enhances 5-fluorouracil-induced inhibition of colon cancer

[14] Int J Biol Sci. 2011; 7(3): 297–300. Hydrogen Protects Mice from Radiation Induced Thymic Lymphoma in BALB/c Mice

[15] Saitoh Y, Okayasu H, Xiao L, Harata Y, Miwa N. Neutral pH hydrogen-enriched electrolyzed water achieves tumor-preferential clonal growth inhibition over normal cells and tumor invasion inhibition concurrently with intracellular oxidant repression. Oncology Research. 2008;17(6):247–255. PubMed

[16] M. Lee, Y. Kim, K. Ryoo, Y. Lee and E. Park, "Electrolyzed-reduced (Hydrogen Rich) Water Protects against Oxidative Damage to DNA, RNA and Protein," Appl Biochem Biotechnol, pp. 135(2):133-44, 2006.

[17] Med Gas Res. 2011; 1: 11. Molecular hydrogen alleviates nephrotoxicity induced by an anti-cancer drug cisplatin without compromising anti-tumor activity in mice. Published 2008 in Cancer Chemotherapy and Pharmacology

[18] Cancer Chemotherapy and Pharmacology. September 2009, 64:753. Molecular hydrogen alleviates nephrotoxicity induced by an anti-cancer drug cisplatin without compromising anti-tumor activity in mice.

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Hi, I'm Dr. Mark Sircus, AC., OMD, DM (P), a doctor and writer of more than 23 books that have sold over 80,000 copies all over the world. I've been on of firsts to publish on the medical and well-being uses of hydrogen, and I wrote a book about it called - "Hydrogen Medicine".

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