Sunday, April 23, 2006

Hot pepper treat pancreatic cancer

University of Pittsburgh pharmacologist Sanjay Srivastava and his colleagues recently reported that they found that capsaicin--the chemical that makes hot peppers hot--induced apoptosis in mice with human pancreatic cancer, an aggressive and usually fatal disease. Treated mice had tumors half the size of their untreated peers. Capsaicin triggered the cancerous cells to die off and significantly reduced the size of the tumors. Experts point out that many compounds shown to stop cancer in mice are not nearly as effective in human cancer patients. Pancreatic cancer is highly deadly, killing 31,000 of the 32,000 it will be diagnosed in this year.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Ginger root kill ovarian cancer cells

Obstetrician J. Rebecca Liu of the University of Michigan and her colleagues reported that ginger powder, roughly the same as that sold in supermarkets, killed ovarian cancer cells in vitro both by triggering apoptosis and inducing them to cannibalize themselves, a phenomenon known as autophagy. "Most ovarian cancer patients develop recurrent disease that eventually becomes resistant to standard chemotherapy, which is associated with resistance to apoptosis," Liu explains. "If ginger can cause autophagic death in addition to apoptosis, it may circumvent that resistance." "Patients are using natural products either in place of or in conjunction with chemotherapy and we don't know if they work or how they work," Liu adds. "There's no good clinical data." To that end, these new findings may well be seeds of change.
However, the study on ginger was done using cells in a lab dish, which is a long way from finding that it works in actual cancer patients, but it is the first step to testing the idea. Ovarian cancer kills 16,000 out of the 22,000 U.S. women who are diagnosed with it every year.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Cauliflower, broccoli and cabbage fight prostate cancer

In the recent American Association for Cancer conference, Pharmacologists have demonstared that when cruciferous vegetables--such as cauliflower, broccoli and cabbage--are chewed helps control human prostate tumors grafted into mice. Phenethyl-isothiocyanate, or PEITC, prompted the prostate cancer cells to kill themselves in a process called apoptosis. By the end of a 31-day treatment cycle, treated mice had tumors nearly two times smaller than their counterparts. The lead author of this study, Shivendra Singh, Ph.D., professor of pharmacology and urology and codirector of the Cancer Biochemoprevention Program at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, believes that prostate cancer is one of the malignancies that can be prevented by certain foods. He says: "from epidemiologic data, we know that increased consumption of vegetables reduces the risk for certain types of cancer, but now we are beginning to understand the mechanisms by which certain edible vegetables like broccoli help our bodies fight cancer and other diseases."

Friday, April 07, 2006

What is nutrigenomics ?

Nutrigenomics is a new field that tailors your food to your genes. Built around the idea that one person's medicine is another's poison, nutrigenomics, and its related technologies of proteomics (the proteins that genes order up) and metabolomics (the soup of molecules that results from metabolic activity), provide a personalized dietary road map. Customizing one's diet to one's genes and metabolism isn't anything like the traditional, one-size-fits-all food pyramid.
Imagine a doctor's being able to quickly identify a patient's DNA profile for type 2 diabetes or obesity and then get a dynamic snapshot of the patient's metabolic response to a particular diet. Food shopping might be like going to the shoe store. You'd have the size and, combined with your taste and energy expenditure, you'd select what fits.
Nutrigenomics might be the answer to our epidemic of obesity and metabolic syndrome. It could even improve how we age, better our bone and brain health, and lower our risks for certain cancers. But this approach is several years away, as our knowledge of chronic disease susceptibility genes is limited, and metabolomics is an entirely new endeavor. Although few companies are already pushing DNA diets, I believe this is way premature.