Researchers of Jefferson’s Kimmel Cancer Center have produced genetic evidence suggesting antioxidant drugs could help prevent and treat cancer. With research already showcasing the powers of various cancer fighting foods, this research further shows how dangerous mainstream medical testing and treatments can be outranked by nature’s gifts.
“Antioxidants have been associated with cancer reducing effects—beta carotene, for example—but the mechanisms, the genetic evidence, has been lacking,” says lead researcher Michael P. Lisanti, M.D., Ph.D. “Now we have genetic proof that mitochondrial oxidative stress is important for driving tumor growth.”
Oxidative Stress and Tumor Growth
Lisanti’s study shows that loss of the tumor suppressor protein Caveolin-1 (Cav-1) stimulates mitochondrial oxidative stress in the stromal micro-environment. If this is Greek to you, let’s put it this way: if a woman has breast cancer and has the biomarker Cav-1, she has greater chances of survival than someone who doesn’t have the Cav-1 protein. The loss of the protein, in fact, leads to oxidative stress, thereby quadrupling in tumor mass and volume with no increase in tumor angiogenesis.
That’s where antioxidants step in.
Antioxidants Interfere with Cancer Growth
Lisanti wasn’t the first to see antioxidants reducing oxidative stress. A 2008 study published in the March 14th issue of Science pointed out that antioxidants put up interference in cancer communication. This stops and even reverses cancer growth throughout the body.
“There are already antioxidant drugs out there on the market as dietary supplements, like N-zcetyl cysteine,” says Lisanti. Anti-cancer drugs targeting oxidative stress—like NAC—haven’t entered mainstream medicine because it is commonly believed to reduce the effectiveness of current chemotherapies that increase oxidative stress. (And there’s too much money to be made by pharmaceutical companies to put a stop to that, yet.)
Lisanti insists, “Now that we have genetic proof that oxidative stress and resulting autophagy [production of recycled nutrients] are important for driving tumor growth, we should reconsider using antioxidants and autophagy inhibitors as anti-cancer agents.”
Luckily for us, help in the prevention or treatment of cancer doesn’t have to come in pill form. Read up on the antioxidants found in papaya leaves, ginger, and turmeric right here — maybe while drinking a small glass of red wine.