Glutathione is a peptide or small protein that the body makes to protect itself from free radicals, oxidative stress and the harmful effects of environmental toxins. Oxidative stress refers to damage at the level of DNA and other cell structures resulting from exposure to free radicals or toxins. This damage is often where critical illnesses like cancer or heart disease originate.
Glutathione is considered to be the most powerful antioxidant in the body. It is also a detoxifier in that it binds to toxic metals or cancer-causing chemicals and safely “escorts” them out of the body. The efficiency of detoxification depends to a large degree on how much glutathione is available, and glutathione levels vary dramatically from person to person.
One cause of this variability is a difference in genetic traits. Genetic variants determine how much glutathione will be produced in a given individual and the difference is dramatic. Even under optimal conditions glutathione produced in one person can be half as much as in someone else (Richie et al, Clin Chem 42:64, 1996). Research is now showing that people with a gene variant named GAG-7 who produce the least glutathione have a higher rate of cancer (research presented at a recent conference by John P. Richie, PhD of Penn State University College of Medicine and currently submitted for publication). Read More »