Diet-related cancer and prevention using anticarcinogens


E. Olatunde Farombi

Compelling evidences indicate that dietary factors can contribute to human cancer risk and as such many of the cancers common in the third world countries and the western world, including liver, colon, prostate and breast cancers have been related to dietary behaviors. Dietary carcinogens identified to date include the mycotoxins, heterocyclic amines formed from heat treatment of meat, N-nitroso compounds and the polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. It has been recognized that diet-related cancers occur through an imbalance of carcinogenesis and anticarcinogenesis. Dietary anticarcinogens may therefore provide a means of retarding, suppressing or reversing the multi-stage carcinogenesis. An avalanche of dietary and plant-derived compounds has been reported to possess anticarcinogenic activities. Most of these agents possess intrinsic antioxidant, radical trapping and anti-inflammatory properties, which appear to contribute to their chemo preventive properties. Resveratrol, a phytoalexin, present in grapes, berries and peanuts and Curcumin the natural yellow pigment in turmeric isolated from the rhizome of the plant Curcuma longa elicit striking inhibitory effects on diverse cellular events associated with the process of carcinogenesis. Lycopene, a carotenoid present in tomatoes is a powerful quencher of singlet oxygen. Epidemiological evidence strongly suggests that lycopene consumption and tomato products contribute to prostate cancer risk reduction. Kolaviron, a natural biflavonoid antioxidant obtained from the seeds of Garcinia kola has been extensively investigated for it hepatoprotective, radical scavenging and antigenotoxic properties in vitro and in vivo. Each of these anticarcinogens alone or in combination could provide a sustainable chemopreventive intervention that might be useful in retarding the progress of cancer in different populations of the world.

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