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World Cancer Day: Prevention of incurable Cancer- The dawn for nutraceuticals

Cancer is rising fast across the world and starts when something goes wrong with the way normal cells divide and grow.

By Suresh Garg,

According to the World Health Organization, cancer is now the world’s leading cause of death. This isn’t surprising to consider that there are over 200 different types of cancer and that they can occur in any part of the body. Cancer is rising fast across the world and starts when something goes wrong with the way normal cells divide and grow. Normally, cells in our body grow and die in an orderly fashion. But cancer cells keep growing and dividing even when they’re not supposed to, forming tumors. Despite all the facts known, there is no one cause of cancer. Scientists believe that a combination of things can lead to cancer in younger people and adults. Any abnormality in the cell cycle can lead to cancer. But genetics is not the only factor, since a large number of cancers occur because of environmental factors, eating habits, infection, and lifestyle. The number of new cases is expected to rise by about 70% over the next two decades.

Even after being a vastly common disease, the treatment centres of cancer are very limited and with slender capacities. The unawareness about the cause and symptoms is so minimal that it has led to an increased number of cases wherein cancer gets detected at the last stage thus becoming life-threatening. Cancer can be cured only if detected at an early stage for which screening is vital. In recent years, studies have shown that food is a very powerful means for maintaining a state of well-being and for disease prevention. The nutrient–organism interaction can develop the balance between health and disease. Nutrients and dietary supplements influence epigenetic processes and drug response. Therefore, these food–host interactions can modify the individual predisposition to disease and its potential therapeutic response.

Nutraceuticals are naturally occurring non-toxic dietary compounds that can offer physiological benefits against chronic diseases. Nutraceuticals derived from dietary or medicinal plants play a fundamental role in preventing cancer and are also believed to have chemopreventive effects. There is a growing body of research that suggests a link between cancer and diet. Specifically, there is evidence that suggests the use of nutraceuticals can play an important role in cancer prevention and treatment. The incorporation of nutraceuticals into the diet can help reduce the risk of cancer. It involves the abrogation or delay in the onset of cancer.  This is most often used for people who have a high risk of developing cancer. They may have a strong family history or carry an abnormal gene. 

Functional foods, Nutraceuticals, and supplemental micronutrients have the potential to reduce cancer cell growth, inhibit cell proliferation and induce cancer cells apoptosis. Many phytochemicals are currently being investigated for their promising anticarcinogenic properties. It has been suggested that a number of dietary supplements like Vitamins, minerals, amino acids, linoleic acid, alpha-linolenic acid, combinations of plant extracts may have chemopreventive effects against cancer. In vitro investigations have shown that some compounds exert their antitumor functions at much higher concentrations. On one hand, the evidence along several lines of treatment has shown that some compounds are preferentially more potent in preventing cancer when administered early in life. On the other hand, the evidence for some of these substances is encouraging, much more research is needed to determine their true potential in cancer prevention.

There are many nutraceuticals and chemoprevention adjunct therapies that have been shown to be effective in the prevention of cancer. Some of these include selenium, green tea, curcuminoid and lycopene. Each of these has shown to have a chemopreventive effect in various cancers and may be a useful addition to standard cancer prevention strategies. More research is needed to determine the most effective doses and combinations of these therapies, but they offer a promising avenue for cancer prevention. The goals of nutrition therapy are to accomplish reverse nutrient deficiencies, preserve lean body mass, help patients tolerate treatments, minimize nutrition-related complications, maintain strength and energy, protect immune function and decrease the risk of infection.

Cancer is among the leading causes of morbidity and mortality worldwide. Thus, there is a real need for new efficient anti-cancer drugs with reduced side effects, and plants are a promising source for such entities. Novel utilization of nutraceuticals is a herbal and painless method that can improve the overall quality of life by preventing cancer and increasing the survival rate of patients diagnosed with cancers.

(The author is Founder, Zeon Lifesciences. The article is for informational purposes only. Please consult medical experts and health professionals before starting any therapy, medication and/or remedy. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of the Financial Express Online.)

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