Glutathione and Prostate Cancer
A growing body of research suggests that glutathione may offer antioxidant and chemopreventive properties, especially when it comes to prostate cancer. Let’s uncover what’s currently known about the effects of glutathione on prostate health.
What is Glutathione?
Glutathione is a compound produced by your liver. It’s made from three amino acids: cysteine, glutamine and glycine. Glutathione is involved in numerous processes, ranging from building and repairing tissues, production of chemicals and proteins, and helping support your body’s immune function.
Heavily involved in your immune response, glutathione also works to help your body make white blood cells. These protective blood cells help fight off and remove germs from your body in order to protect you from getting sick. White blood cells also help with the recovery process during and after illnesses. Glutathione works alongside white blood cells, using its sulfur-like chemical compounds to help pick up toxins and harmful compounds and removing them from your body.
Furthermore, glutathione is an antioxidant. This means that it helps protect your cells from oxidative damage caused by compounds called reactive oxygen species (ROS). In fact, glutathione has been called “the mother of all antioxidants” by health professionals.
Glutathione and free radicals
Glutathione is the most abundant antioxidant in both human and plant organisms. It’s heavily involved in what’s called cellular redox homeostasis. This is the process by which your body manages and removes potentially harmful substances like ROS, including chemicals and carcinogens. It acts as a free radical scavenger and a detoxifying agent within your cells to help keep them healthy.
Around 10% of the glutathione in your body is produced within the mitochondria, where cellular energy is made. Here, glutathione works to react with ROS and prevent the death of healthy cells.
A deficiency of glutathione can increase your susceptibility to oxidative stress that can lead to cancer progression. On the other hand, having a steady supply of glutathione can help increase your body’s antioxidant activity and its ability to resist oxidative stress that can otherwise become harmful.
Some times too much of a good thing is NOT a good thing. Some studies have found that excessive levels of glutathione in the body can actually have the opposite effect when it comes to health. Those studies found that too much glutathione may have promoted tumor progression and metastasis of cancer cells. This emphasizes the importance of a healthy balance in your daily routine and that more isn’t always better.
Glutathione and prostate cancer
If you’re interested in the best antioxidants for prostate health, look no further than glutathione.
According to a 2017 review published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), prostate cancer is the most common health diagnosis in men, with over 160,000 new cases reported in the United States annually. On a global scale, over 1.2 million new cases are diagnosed every year. Overall, prostate cancer is the third leading cause of cancer-related death among men, especially as they get older.
Many cases of prostate cancer tend to develop and spread slowly, which may offer a larger window for intervention.
Like most illnesses, one of the best ways to protect your body against the progression of disease is to practice healthy lifestyle habits. One of these includes incorporating natural sources of antioxidants into your diet.
Antioxidants are recognized as a major player in protecting cells against cancer. Specifically, the pathophysiology of prostate cancer may be linked to the oxidant and antioxidant balance in the body.
As a result of its strong antioxidant and immune-modulating properties, it’s not surprising that glutathione has been studied for its role in cancer prevention and treatment.
In one 2020 study published in Diagnostics, researchers measured levels of various antioxidants, including glutathione, in high-risk prostate cancer participants. They concluded that oxidative damage, indicated by imbalances among antioxidants within the body, play a significant role in the early developmental stages of prostate cancer. Furthermore, the authors suggest that improving antioxidant levels within the body could be helpful in the prognosis of prostate cancer.
Where to find glutathione
Glutathione is produced by your liver and is naturally present in your body. You can also find it in a variety of healthy foods that can easily be added to your daily routine.
Some of the best ways to boost your glutathione consumption are by eating more sulfur-containing cruciferous vegetables, like broccoli, kale, cabbage, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower. Incorporating animal protein sources such as fish, poultry and beef is another way to boost your intake of glutathione. Including good sources of nutrients like vitamins C and E, the B vitamins and selenium may also be helpful in the production and function of this crucial antioxidant. Examples of foods that include these supportive nutrients include Brazil nuts, citrus fruits, sunflower seeds, fish, legumes and avocados.
In addition, the natural glutathione production that happens within your own body may be supported by certain supplements. For example, whey protein helps in boosting the amino acid cysteine, which replenishes glutathione when it’s been used up by the immune process.
Some research suggests that whey protein is an ideal supplement to use during cancer treatment not only because it provides essential amino acids necessary for immune activity and cell recovery, but also because of its ability to naturally support glutathione production. Always ask your doctor what’s best for you.
Whether you’re looking for a natural adjuvant, a preventive approach for prostate cancer, or just to support your immune system, glutathione is a powerful choice. Incorporate it into your diet through a variety of healthy foods or consider adding a supplement like whey protein.
 Bansal A, Simon MC. Glutathione metabolism in cancer progression and treatment resistance. J Cell Biol. 2018;217(7):2291-2298. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29915025/
 Ankita Bansal, M. Celeste Simon; Glutathione metabolism in cancer progression and treatment resistance. J Cell Biol 2 July 2018; 217 (7): 2291–2298. https://rupress.org/jcb/article/217/7/2291/39136/Glutathione-metabolism-in-cancer-progression-and
 Traverso N, Ricciarelli R, Nitti M, et al. Role of glutathione in cancer progression and chemoresistance. Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2013;2013:972913. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3673338/
 Litwin MS, Tan HJ. The Diagnosis and Treatment of Prostate Cancer: A Review. JAMA. 2017;317(24):2532-2542. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28655021/
 Leslie SW, Soon-Sutton TL, Sajjad H, Siref LE. Prostate Cancer. In: StatPearls. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; July 17, 2021. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29261872/
 Shukla S, Srivastava JK, Shankar E, et al. Oxidative Stress and Antioxidant Status in High-Risk Prostate Cancer Subjects. Diagnostics (Basel). 2020;10(3):126. Published 2020 Feb 27. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7151307/
 Dröge W, Breitkreutz R. Glutathione and immune function. Proc Nutr Soc. 2000;59(4):595-600. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11115795/
 Hunter EA, Grimble RF. Dietary sulphur amino acid adequacy influences glutathione synthesis and glutathione-dependent enzymes during the inflammatory response to endotoxin and tumour necrosis factor-alpha in rats. Clin Sci (Lond). 1997;92(3):297-305. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9093011/
 C S Johnston, C G Meyer, J C Srilakshmi, Vitamin C elevates red blood cell glutathione in healthy adults, Am J Clin Nutr. Volume 58, Issue 1, July 1993, Pages 103–105. https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article-abstract/58/1/103/4715823
 van Haaften RI, Haenen GR, Evelo CT, Bast A. Effect of vitamin E on glutathione-dependent enzymes. Drug Metab Rev. 2003;35(2-3):215-253. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12959415/
 Micke P, Beeh KM, Schlaak JF, Buhl R. Oral supplementation with whey proteins increases plasma glutathione levels of HIV-infected patients. Eur J Clin Invest. 2001;31(2):171-178.
 Bounous G. Whey protein concentrate (WPC) and glutathione modulation in cancer treatment. Anticancer Res. 2000;20(6C):4785-4792. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11205219/
 Akhavan T, Luhovyy BL, Brown PH, Cho CE, Anderson GH. Effect of premeal consumption of whey protein and its hydrolysate on food intake and postmeal glycemia and insulin responses in young adults. Am J Clin Nutr. 2010;91(4):966-975. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20164320/
- Should You Take Whey Protein Powder After Surgery? - March 2, 2023
- How Much Protein is Too Much? - January 30, 2023
- Is Whey Protein Keto Friendly? - January 30, 2023