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Plant-based compounds slow the spread of cancer

A new study shows that compounds in substances like ginseng, tomatoes and turmeric can turn on genes that slow cancer from spreading.

Turmeric component curcumin slows cancer spread
Turmeric component curcumin slows cancer spread
Image: Steven Jackson Photography via Flickr

A FIRST-OF-its kind study has shown that plant-based compounds can activate genes that slow the spread of cancer.

Washington State University researcher, Professor Gary Meadows, found that substances like amino acids, vitamin D, ethanol, ginseng extract, tomato carotenoid lycopene, turmeric component curcumin, pomegranate juice and fish oil acted “epigenetically” – as in they turned metastasis suppressor genes on or off.

The plant nutrients can have an affect on gene expression in breast, colorectal, prostate, skin, lung and other cancers.

The study, which was recently published in the Journal of Cancer and Metastasis Reviews, reinforces two concepts said Prof Meadows – that natural compounds helps our bodies slow or stop the spread of cancer showing a need for “more deliberate research into the genes”.

Also that “these studies play an important role in the shift from preventing cancer to living with it and keeping it from spreading”. He said:

There’s likely to be more compounds out there, more constituents, that people haven’t even evaluated yet.

Washington State University reports that Prof Meadows saw that most of cancer research focuses on the prevention of cancer or the treatment of the original cancer tumour, but it’s usually the cancer’s spread to nearby organs that kills you. “So rather than attack the tumour, let’s control its spread,” said Meadows adding:

We’re always looking for a magic bullet. Well, there are lots of magic bullets out there in what we eat and associated with our lifestyle. We just need to take advantage of those. And they can work together.

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