NAC is a metabolite of the sulfur-containing amino acid cysteine, which is found in high-protein foods, and is produced in the body. One of NAC’s functions is to metabolize to glutathione, which is a potent antioxidant that detoxifies chemicals into less harmful substances. NAC also bonds with heavy metals like mercury and lead and helps remove them from the body. Anyone who takes NAC supplements should also take supplements of zinc, copper, and other trace minerals, because NAC increases the excretion of these important minerals.
NAC has been shown to reduce the proliferation of certain cells that line the colon and may reduce the risk of colon cancer in individuals who experience recurrent polyps. It is also proposed that NAC may protect against cancer because of its antioxidant actions. A recent study (January 2010) suggests that NAC and resveratrol are “prime candidates to prevent breast and other human cancers” because they reduce the formation of something called estrogen-DNA adducts. (Cavalieri 2010) Given that men who have prostate cancer also have high levels of estrogen-DNA adducts, it is suggested that NAC could help in the fight against prostate cancer because it can reduce the formation of these adducts.
Dosing of NAC depends on the condition being treated. For general health, 500 mg daily is typical, which can be increased with a doctor’s supervision. (University of Maryland) However, there are no specific guidelines for taking NAC to prevent cancer at this time. NAC is considered safe when taken at doses within the recommended range
Cavalieri EL, Rogan EG. Depurinating estrogen-DNA adducts in the etiology and prevention of breast and other human cancers. Future Oncology 2010 Jan; 6(1): 75-91.
University of Maryland Medical Center: http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/cysteine-000298.htm