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Mesothelioma Patients and the Body’s Detoxification Pathways

mesothelioma patients and the need for the body to detoxify itself

We live in a ‘sea’ of harmful chemicals in our environment, yet the body has many ways of detoxifying itself of harmful chemicals. The chemicals and toxins that may be detoxified include ones that are made inside the body and ones that get into the body from the external environment. Getting rid of these harmful chemicals is crucial for mesothelioma patients.

Asbestos Fibers Cause Mesothelioma

Asbestos fibers can be classified as a harmful substance to the body. When asbestos fibers are inhaled, they are carried to the lower regions of the lung. Here they cause fibrosis and changes in the lung and chest cavity.  Long-term inhalation increases the risk of lung cancer and mesothelioma- which is why it is important that mesothelioma patients detoxify themselves often.

People are more susceptible to develop asbestos-related diseases if they are exposed to high concentrations of asbestos, if they are exposed to asbestos more than once, and if they are exposed to asbestos for longer periods of time.

The reason why people are more susceptible goes back to the body’s detoxification processes. The body is capable of detoxifying itself but may have a limit of how much can be detoxified at any one time. If this amount is exceeded, such as with high concentrations of asbestos, then the body’s detox systems won’t be good enough and further damage will occur.

Similarly, if the body is exposed to asbestos more than once or over time, the additional exposures may exceed the body’s capacity to remove the asbestos over time. Unless additional methods to activate the detoxification process are initiated, the asbestos will likely stay in the lungs and organs where it is lodged, causing damage.

Sulforaphane is Involved in the Body’s Detox Pathways

One of the key metabolites in the body’s detoxification pathways is sulforaphane. Once it is activated in the body from its precursor compound called glucorophanin, sulforaphane activates the NRF-2 pathways in the body. These are the pathways that release all the enzymes that remove the free radicals in the body and the ones that remove the toxins.

Toxins can shut off the body’s NRF-2 pathways. Once shut off, the downstream effects will affect the liver cells. Our liver is one of the body’s primary detox organs. Once the NRF-2 pathways are shut off, you can expect that damage from the original toxin will start to accumulate. What this means for mesothelioma patients is that the damage from the asbestos fibers could start to worsen. Unless you get the body to detoxify itself, it doesn’t have a chance to heal.

Sulfurophane is made in the body, but it’s also found in cruciferous vegetables. These are vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and broccoli sprouts. In the scientific world, sulforaphane has been heralded as a chemopreventive and/or chemotherapeutic agent for mesothelioma patients.

How Sulfurophane Acts on Mesothelioma Patients

Scientists at the Department of Biochemistry at the College of Medicine at Soonchunhyang University in Korea investigated the effects of sulforaphane on enhancing the anticancer role of cisplatin in malignant mesothelioma cells.

When both compounds were used together, mesothelioma cells died and were inhibited from growing. They also noticed there was a significant increase in the level of a marker protein that indicates the body is effectively detoxifying itself called autophagosomal marker protein microtubule-associated protein 1 light chain 3BII.

Although these results were obtained in the laboratory and not within actual patients, the scientists have a lot of hope for mesothelioma patients. Considering their results, they stated that their results show a rationale for using sulforaphane and cisplatin together as a potential therapeutic strategy for malignant mesothelioma.


Lee, Y.J. and Lee, S.H. Pro-oxidant activity of sulforaphane and cisplatin potentiates apoptosis and simultaneously promotes autophagy in malignant mesothelioma cells. Mol Med Rep 2017 Aug;16(2):2133-2141.

Jeffrey Smith interview, Glyphosate Impact on Health (with focus on the sulforaphane interaction).

Asbestos Health Effects. Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety. Accessed online January 8, 2020.

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