Monthly Archives: December 2014

Curry Up Now: Indian Spice Enhances Colon Cancer Treatment

Curry

Cancer cases in the United States continue to grow—trailing closely behind heart disease, the No. 1 killer of Americans. Poor diet, no physical activity, and stress have all been linked to cancer. Cancer, however, is largely preventable through lifestyle choices.

Colorectal cancer is the second most common cause of cancer-related deaths among men and women in the U.S. Five percent of Americans will likely develop colon cancer in their lifetime. And early screening, especially in people who have a family history, helps to detect colon polyps before they become cancerous. Because of early detection and better treatments, over a million Americans have survived colorectal cancer. Unfortunately, cancer cells are strategic and can develop unique ways to avoid the effects of treatments. Cancer cells are abnormal cells that continue to grow with no plans of ever dying. These aggressive forms of cancer have defects that make them resistant to treatment.

If intestinal polyps are detected early, they can be surgically removed. When polyps aren’t caught in time, they develop into cancer. If colon cancer is detected at a later stage, chemotherapy and radiation therapy may be used alone or in combination to treat patients. Also, cancer stem cells (CSCs) can develop resistance, which renders conventional cancer treatments ineffective. That is why, in my practice, I integrate allopathic treatments and targeted-based nutrition to not only treat a patient’s symptoms but also the underlying cause of the medical problem.

The revolutionary science of epigenetics discusses the way in which environmental factors affect our genes to cause disease or promote health. Turmeric is a spice used to add flavor and yellow color to many Indian dishes. Often referred to as Indian saffron, it has been used to treat myriad health problems for thousands of years in Southeast Asia, such as arthritis, digestion problems, and parasitic infections.1 It’s also been shown to attack cancer cells.

A PLOS One study examined the effects of curcumin, an antioxidant compound in turmeric, on chemotherapy-resistant colon cancer cells.2 Researchers used two colorectal cell lines that were sensitive to 5-fluorouracil (5-FU), a chemotherapy drug. They also used 5-FU-resistant clones of these cell lines. One of the two sensitive cell lines and its corresponding resistant cell line were deficient in DNA mismatch repair (MMR).

Why is this deficiency relevant? Normal DNA uses MMR to recognize and repair genetic errors. Without MMR, damaged DNA can avoid replicative checkpoints and make it into future cell lines. This leads to genetic instability, cancer pathogenesis, and chemoresistant cancer cells.

Each cell line was exposed to different treatments: (1) 5-FU alone, (2) curcumin, and (3) pretreatment with curcumin followed by 5-FU. Although 5-FU worked in reducing the growth of sensitive colon cancer cell lines, curcumin reduced the proliferation of all cancer cell lines. And the combination therapy remarkably decreased cancer stem cells.

In my newest book, The Gene Therapy Plan: Taking Control of Your Genetic Destiny with Diet and Lifestyle, which will be published in April 2015 by Viking, I discuss the healthful benefits of turmeric and provide recipes for curry dishes. The spice is both chemopreventive and chemotherapeutic. If Indian food isn’t your thing, don’t worry. Foods such as salmon, blueberries, broccoli sprouts, and kale contain anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds that fight cancer.

References:

1.         Prasad S, Aggarwal B. Turmeric, the Golden Spice: From Traditional Medicine to Modern Medicine. In: Benzie IFF W-GS, ed. Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects. 2 ed. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press; 2011.

2.         Shakibaei M, Buhrmann C, Kraehe P, Shayan P, Lueders C, Goel A. Curcumin Chemosensitizes 5-Fluorouracil Resistant MMR-Deficient Human Colon Cancer Cells in High Density Cultures. PloS one. 2014;9(1):e85397.

 

A New Fat in Town: Omega-7

Sea Buckhorn

Fat Fights Metabolic Syndrome

If you’re constantly looking for ways to improve your diet, chances are you’ve already come across omega-3 fats. It’s a heart healthy fat that maintains normal growth and development and brain function. Since our bodies can’t produce omega-3s and we have to get it from our diet, it is called an essential fat.  Dietary sources, however, are limited to the fat of cold-water fish like salmon, tuna, and halibut. So some people may choose to take this fat as a supplement.

For good health, a balance between omega-3s and omega-6s (another essential fat) must be maintained. The stasis of omega fats is critical because omega-3s are anti-inflammatory, whereas omega-6s are proinflammatory. While the Mediterranean diet has a healthy ratio between these fats, the same can’t be said about the Western diet. Unfortunately, omega-6 fats are ubiquitous in our diet. Processed and refined foods promote an imbalance between these fats and trigger chronic inflammation and disease. In my new book, the Gene Therapy Plan, I explain how our diet affects our genes and health; in it you’ll learn what you can do to tip the scale to bring these fats toward a harmonious balance.

In the world of essential fats, omega-3s may take center stage. But a new player is drumming up some well-deserved attention—omega-7 fats. Omega-7 fats comprise fatty acids that are called palmitoleic acid, which is a monounsaturated fat (MUFA), not a polyunsaturated fat (PUFA) like omega-3 and -6. Compared to omega-3 fats, omega-7 fat exerts its health-promoting effect in a different way. Omega-3 fats become integrated with anti-inflammatory molecules to reduce active low-grade inflammation, which is a process linked to complex diseases.1,2 But omega-7 fats are lipokines, hormone-like substances, that regulates signals between distant tissues to optimize energy balance in the body.  In particular, palmitoleic acid controls the cell signals between muscle and fat tissues. This regulation helps to maintain energy use and storage by tissues in the body.

Diet plays a significant role in promoting inflammation, tissue damage, poor glucose control, and excess sugar storage—problems that are uniquely tied to metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a condition characterized by five health issues:

  1. Poor sugar control
  2. Elevated cholesterol levels
  3. Hypertension
  4. Central obesity
  5. Chronic inflammation

Fortunately, omega-7 targets each of these five areas to prevent and treat metabolic syndrome. Omega-7 is a powerful anti-inflammatory molecule that reduces NF-kappaB, a major proinflammatory complex.3 The nutrient also improves glycemic control and cholesterol levels and controls weight. Omega-7 raises HDLs (good cholesterol) and lowers LDLs (bad cholesterol) and triglycerides.

Omega-7 is an amazing nutrient. It also works similarly to drugs that treat diabetes and high cholesterol, without the harmful side effects. Foods like macadamia nuts and sea buckthorn contain omega-7. These foods, unfortunately, contain high levels of palmitic acid. While palmitoleic acid is healthy, palmitic acid is not. A highly viscous oil, palmitic acid forms plaques that clogs arteries, which negates the health benefits of omega-7 fats in these foods.  Take omega-7 as a high-grade supplement to guard against metabolic syndrome and promote wellness. But before you take any supplement, consult with a health care professional.

 

References:

1.         Serhan CN, Chiang N, Van Dyke TE. Resolving inflammation: dual anti-inflammatory and pro-resolution lipid mediators. Nature Reviews Immunology. 2008;8(5):349-361.

2.         Calder PC. Dietary modification of inflammation with lipids. Proceedings of the Nutrition Society. 2002;61(03):345-358.

3.         Guo X, Li H, Xu H, et al. Palmitoleate induces hepatic steatosis but suppresses liver inflammatory response in mice. PLoS One. 2012;7(6):e39286.