Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Oxidative Stress & Cancer Development

I recently attended an integrative oncology seminar that ignited an interest in nutrition and cancer prevention, therapy and treatment. I wanted to share some of the eye opening information I learned in terms of oxidative stress and its role in cancer development, and how nutrition therapy can help to prevent its progresssion.

The cells within our bodies undergo millions of divisions every day, and these divisions are highly sensitive to oxidative damage and stress. Oxidative stress occurs as a result of a build up of free radicals, otherwise know as ROS (reactive oxygen species), these molecules are a byproduct of energy consumption within mitochondria, the powerhouses of our cells. Everyday activities such as breathing, eating and exercising produce free radicals. These free radicals can accumulate in high amounts and damage our cells and leave tissues unable to function correctly, leading to the formation of health conditions and disease, including cancer.

There is a specific time of cell division that is sensitive to oxidative damage known as the spindle checkpoint, this is a stage of cell division that safeguards chromosome division to ensure the correct number of chromosomes are formed, if there is any error in cell division this checkpoint will halt division while the error is fixed. Oxidative stress overrides this checkpoint and therefore can result in aneuploidy, which causes an abnormal amount of chromosomes to form in a cell and DNA damage. This cell instability can lead to malignant tumor formation.

Aneuploidy can be reduced by the lifelong supplementation of antioxidants. Antioxidants are naturally occurring chemicals found in certain foods that prevent cell damage, help to maintain tissues and prevent disease. Chromosomal instability characteristic of cancer formation can be reduced via the intake or supplementation of the following antioxidants:

CoQ10 – An antioxidant essential for basic cell function and co enzyme used in energy production. CoQ10 is produced within the body but can be obtained via diet and supplementation.  CoQ10 is found naturally in beef, poultry, fish, soybean & canola oil, sesame seeds, pistachios, fruits and vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, oranges and strawberries.

Vitamin E – A fat-soluble antioxidant that is one of the body’s primary defenders against free radicals, acting to prevent oxidation of polyunsaturated fatty acids and other lipids. Vitamin E is particularly beneficial in preventing LDL cholesterol oxidation, reducing risks of heart disease.  Vitamin E is found in polyunsaturated plant oils, leafy green vegetables, wheat germ, whole grains, nuts and seeds.

Plant Flavonoids – Found in green tea, soy, milk thistle, turmeric and ginger, flavonoids are a group of phytochemical's with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that act to maintain cell membranes. 

Therefore, through regular intake of coQ10, vitamin E and a range of plant flavonoids, oxidative stress can be reduced effectively reducing cell instability caused by free radical damage and reducing risks of cancer progression.