Potassium-Cancer Connection real? This article explores this very matter in-depth.
Cancer is one of the top killers in the U.S. This year alone, nearly 1,735,350 cancer cases will be diagnosed—and 609,640 people will die of the disease. But as technology improves and new links are discovered between cancer and the things we do (or eat), prevention and survival may increase. In 2016 alone, there were about 15.5 million cancer survivors across the nation, and that number is expected to grow to 20.3 million within a decade.
There’s increasing evidence that the foods we eat play an important role in cancer prevention (and likewise, increasing the risk of cancer). The World Health Organization (WHO), for example, has classified processed meat as a carcinogen. Red meat as probably connected to increased cancer risk, as well.
Potassium is one nutrient that has garnered some interest in the cancer/anti-cancer debate. It’s one of the body’s most essential electrolytes, along with sodium, calcium and magnesium. But our bodies don’t naturally produce it. We can only get this vital nutrient through the foods we eat or the supplements we take.
A possible connection between potassium and cancer
There is mixed research on the role of potassium in cancer prevention or proliferation. While one study classified potassium as a definite anti-carcinogenic, some other research suggested that the presence of potassium may fuel cancer spread. Overall, there is little evidence to prove that potassium is a cancer-causing (or proliferating) culprit. And in most cases (kidney problems are an exception), it shouldn’t be restricted, as it maintains proper functioning in the body.
While cancer prevention may not be as simple as eating a banana, (which, by the way, contains 487 mg of potassium), some studies show that they may be beneficial. Not only do they have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, but some nutritional properties of bananas (potassium notwithstanding) have been shown to prevent the in vitro proliferation of leukemia and liver cancer cells.
The anti-cancer Gerson Therapy
In the first half of the century, Dr. Max Gerson, developer of the dietary-based Gerson Therapy cancer treatment, found that many of his cancer patients suffered from low levels of potassium. This discovery led him to go more in-depth into the exploration of how electrolyte imbalance and a potassium deficiency could affect cells in the body. He suggested that balanced potassium levels were vital for cancer prevention.
Dr. Gerson studied cellular edema, a condition that happens when a cell is exposed to toxins. The cell loses potassium, absorbs more sodium and then absorbs more water resulting in an overall loss of cellular energy. This can make cells more susceptible to illnesses such as cancer. He created a form of therapy that would allow energy back into the cells by eliminating sodium from the patient’s diet and enforcing a high potassium diet. This included the addition of many fruits and vegetables, including fresh raw juices and freshly prepared raw foods. The high potassium diet showed potential to restore cells and save lives. Many of Gerson’s clients who suffered from cancer were declared cancer-free after following his therapy and diet.
It’s important to note that the Gerson Therapy may not be for everyone, and may not provide the same cancer-free results across the board. However, whether or not you have an illness, it’s important to ensure your body is getting the nutrients it needs to work optimally. So check with your doctor to see if you could benefit from more potassium in your diet.
Potassium deficiency is more common than you think
Potassium is one of the most common nutrient deficiencies in the U.S. A 2009-2010 National Health and Nutrition Examination survey revealed that a majority of Americans only ingest half of the USDA recommended amount. This means most of us have lower levels of potassium and we may not even realize it.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends adults take 4,700 mg of potassium per day, and children should take 3,000 mg of potassium per day. Anything below those levels can result in potassium deficiency.
Symptoms of potassium deficiency
Potassium deficiency has a way of making itself known, and if you know what to look for you can take better control of your own health. Below are some signs that you may have potassium deficiency. If you have any of these symptoms, check with your doctor about having an electrolyte balance test done.
- Paralysis (muscles going limp)
- Muscle stiffness, aching and tenderness
- Fatigue and weakness
- Heart palpitations
- Abdominal bloating, pain and cramping
- Numbness and tingling
- Dizziness and fainting
- Frequent urination
- Extreme thirst
Foods rich in potassium
If you’re ready to add some potassium to your diet, try these potassium-rich foods.
- Milk and yogurt
- Bananas, oranges, cantaloupes, honeydew, apricots and grapefruits
- Dried fruits such as raisins, dates and prunes
- Sweet Potatoes
- Cooked Spinach
- Cooked Broccoli
- Leafy greens
- Whole wheat bread and pasta
- Meat and poultry
- Various juices such as orange, tomato or prune
- Various fish such as tuna, cod or rockfish
- Various beans such as lima, pinto or kidney
It’s clear that minerals are important for our health and well-being, especially when it comes to potassium. Eating foods that are rich in potassium, being aware of the potassium deficiency symptoms and making regular doctor visits will ensure that you live a happy and healthy life.
Along with food sources, supplements are another important and simple way to ensure you’re getting the nutrients you need. But if you choose to use a supplement, it’s important to ensure you’re buying a user-approved brand. Reading reviews of top-rated supplements can help in the quest for the best supplements on the market. Ready to amplify your health? Check out these reviews of top-rated supplements.