May 2, 2012
Skin cancer is now the most prevalent form of cancer. It is so pervasive that it is not usually included in the national cancer statistics that list “high-profile” cancers of the breast, colon, lung, and prostate. Melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, is notoriously chemo-resistant and radio-resistant and there are no known cures for invasive melanoma. Regrettably, the standard-of-care treatments used today provide only meager survival times.
Considerable evidence from laboratory studies suggests that a combination of nutraceuticals could provide protection against melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer. New evidence also suggests that certain nutraceutical combinations can cause melanoma cells to self destruct (apoptosis), at least in laboratory studies.
The precedent for this approach–using two or more natural bioactive compounds to achieve synergistic effects on gene expression in tumor cells–is supported by a number of recent studies:
- Researchers have shown that a using a combination of two widely available natural compounds, curcumin (the bioactive in the spice, turmeric), and green tea catechins, can prevent chemically induced colon carcinogenesis rat model more effectively than either of the compounds alone.
- In one study, a combination of genistein and selenium significantly inhibited growth of prostate cancer cells in a dose-and time-dependent manner by decreasing gene expression for matrix metalloproteins-2 levels, which are known to promote tumor cell proliferation, migration, and adhesion.
- A combination of soy and tea polyphenols has been shown to synergistically reduce prostate tumor weight and metastasis in laboratory animals.
- A laboratory study found that a combination of pomegranate fruit extract and diallyl sulfide (a bioactive in garlic) synergistically inhibited mouse skin tumor growth by reducing gene expression of inflammatory signaling molecules and by inducing tumor cell suicide (apoptosis).
- Recently, researchers examined the effects of resveratrol, the well-known red wine polyphenol and black tea theaflavins, two widely consumed food components that have been frequently cited to protect humans from skin carcinogenesis. Study results showed that the synergistic effect of resveratrol and black tea theaflavins leads to enhanced tumor cell death. Both of these compounds are known to repair DNA damage, which probably accounts for the synergistic effect.
Studies suggest that resveratrol and black tea theaflavins can work together to intervene at all stages of cancer stages through different signaling pathways to prevent tumor cell formation, growth, proliferation, and invasiveness. Resveratrol and black tea theaflavins—even at low doses—act together to inhibit established skin tumor growth more than either compound alone. This synergy is most likely attributable to a reduction in tumor suppressor protein p53 together with an inhibition of MAPK signaling and induction of apoptotic cell death.
No Spin Zone: Preclinical studies suggest that red wine + black tea consumption (or use of bioactive components in these beverages) as well as bioactive compounds in garlic, pomegranate, and turmeric can favorably affect the structure and function of genes and cell signaling components that affect skin cancer formation and may favorably influence the expression of genes that can inhibit melanoma at any stage as well as induce apoptosis in the tumor cells.
Sun worshipers and tanning bed aficionados, take note.
☆ Disclaimer: This is my informed opinion. I could be wrong. What do you think?
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