Boron is the fifth element in the periodic table of elements and has a number of important functions that have only recently been discovered and have yet to be fully appreciated. Boron is essential for plant growth, and it has recently been shown to be essential in at least one species of animal (zebra fish), with evidence mounting that it is probably essential for humans as well. The first edition of The Merck Manual (1899) credits boric acid, the most common form of boron, with being a useful treatment for amenorrhea, dysmenorrhea, epilepsy and elevated uric acid.
Prior to 1981, boron was thought to be all but irrelevant in daily human nutrition. Since then, there have been a number of animal and human studies (including one by the U.S. Department of Agriculture) determining boron as essential for the hormonal influence of estrogen and testosterone as well as bone metabolism. It is also purported to have anti-carcinogenic potential as well as preserving cognitive function. From a scientific perspective, boron appears to have earned its place on our list of vital nutrients in the orchestration of health. It has, however, yet to receive any official recognition as an essential mineral – yet.
Sources of Boron
Boron is found in non-citrus fruits such as plums, red grapes, apples, pears, and avocados, as well as in legumes and nuts. It is also present in significant amounts in coffee and red wine. Dried fruits contain a much higher amount of boron than fresh fruit. Although boron currently is not considered an essential element in the diet of humans, many scientists believe it merits the status as an essential "ultratrace" element.
BORON'S EFFECT ON CANCER
Much of the recent research on boron’s anti-carcinogenic potential has been particularly centered on prostate cancer. In a study presented at the annual Experimental Biology conference in Florida in 2001, boron was shown to have reduced the incidence of prostate cancer development by 64%. The study, from the Cancer Epidemiology Training Program at the UCLA School of Public Health, compared dietary patterns of 76 men with prostate cancer to that of 7,651 men without it. The greater the quantity of boron-rich foods these men consumed, the greater their reduction in risk of being diagnosed with prostate cancer.
Another study published in the 2002 Proceedings of the American Association of Cancer Research attempted to isolate the mechanism of action for boron’s effect on prostate cancer. While the exact explanation of the mechanism remained elusive, it was hypothesized that the prostate specific antigen (PSA) is actually an enzyme (a serine protease) that frees IGF-1 from insulin-like growth factor binding protein. This freed IGF-1 has been shown to promote the growth of prostate cancer. Boron’s effect is to inhibit the activity of the PSA enzyme, thus decreasing the amount of freed IGF-1 which in turn should decrease the growth of prostate cancer tumors.
The anti-cancer effect of boron compounds has been the subject of prior studies that involved tumor cell lines of human malignancies grown in culture. These studies are summarized as follows:
|Cancer Cell Type(s)||Effect on Tumor Cell|
|Acute lymphocytic leukemia Chronic lymphocytic leukemia||Growth inhibition after treatment with boron compounds|
|Ehrlich ascites tumor||Significant anti-tumor action that was further increased by combining with ultrasound therapy|
|Ehrlich ascites tumor||Significantly increased survival time|
|L1210 murine leukemia cells DU-145 prostate cancer cells A549 lung carcinoma cells MCF-7 breast cancer cells||Dose-dependently inhibited DNA synthesis|
|LNCaP prostate cancer cells||Reduced PSA by 86-89% and reduced tumor volume by 25-38%; mitoses and IGF-1 decreased in tissue studies|
|Mouse and human leukemiasHuman uterine, colon, and lung adenocarcinomasHuman gliomas||Inhibited growth|
|Murine and human leukemia Uterine carcinoma tumor cell lines||Potent in vivo antineoplastic activity and in vitro cytotoxicity|
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