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Anti-aging medicine: an anti-aging perspective on cancer prevention.

Cancer is a leading cause of death worldwide. The World Health Organization reports that cancer accounted for 7.6 million deaths (around 13% of all deaths) in 2008. Deaths from cancer worldwide are projected to continue to rise to over 11 million in 2030.

Perhaps just as significant as the mortality of this disease is its impact on quality of life. Experts estimate that 170 million years of healthy life are lost to cancer in a single year. In a first-ever study to estimate the global impact of cancer on the number of healthy years of life, a team led by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (France) utilized data from cancer registries, for incidence, mortality, life expectancy, disease duration, and age at onset and death, along with populations of cancer survivors, to calculate years of life lost (YLLs) and years lived with disability (YLDs). The researchers used YLLs and YLDs to derive disability-adjusted life-years (DALYs) for 27 sites of cancers in 184 countries in 12 world regions. In 2008, cancer contributed to 7.6 million deaths; but the analysis showed that Asia and Europe accounted for 73% of the overall burden of DALYs lost because of cancer, China accounted for 25% of DALYs lost, and India for 11%. Men in Eastern Europe had the highest cancer burden worldwide (3146 DALYs lost per 100,000 men), sub-Saharan African women had the highest female burden (2749 DALYs lost per 100,000 women). All totaled, the researchers report: "Worldwide, an estimated 169.3 million years of healthy life were lost because of cancer in 2008. Colorectal, lung, breast, and prostate cancers were the main contributors to total DALYs in most world regions and caused 18 to 50% of the total cancer burden."

Aging is considered to be a primary factor for the development of cancer. The incidence of cancer rises dramatically with age, most likely due to a buildup of risks for specific cancers that increase with age. The overall risk accumulation is combined with the tendency for cellular repair mechanisms to be less effective as a person grows older. In this column, we review scientific literature that suggest effective natural, nondrug approaches that may serve as leading tools for cancer prevention.

Cancer fact sheet [Web page]. World Health Organization.; February 2012.

Soerjomataram I, Lortet-Tieulent J, Maxwell Parkin D, et al. Global burden of cancer in 2008: a systematic analysis of disability-adjusted life-years in 12 world regions. Lancet. 16 October 2012.

Vitamin D in the Cancer Battle

Vitamin D may help to fight cancers, by blocking cell growth and slowing the progression of premalignant tumors to malignancy. John White and colleagues from McGill University (Canada) studied the ability of vitamin D signaling to suppress expression of genes regulated by c-MYC, a transcription factor that controls epidermal differentiation and cell proliferation and whose activity is frequently elevated in cancer, in a laboratory model. The team showed that hormonal 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D (1,25D) and the vitamin D receptor (VDR) profoundly alter, through multiple mechanisms, the balance in function of c-MYC. It also enhanced MXD1 expression and stability, thereby dramatically altering ratios of DNA-bound c-MYC and MXD1. Noting this capacity to suppress cMYC function, the study authors submit that their findings: "[provide] a molecular basis for cancer preventive actions of vitamin D."

Salehi-Tabar R, Nguyen-Yamamoto L, Tavera-Mendoza LE, et al. Vitamin D receptor as a master regulator of the c-MYC/MXD1 network. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2012 Nov 13;109(46):18827-18832.

Black Pepper Contains Anticancer Compound

Piperine, a compound found abundantly in black pepper, inhibits cellular mechanisms that are necessary in angiogenesis, a key process for tumor growth and progression. Carolyn D. Doucette and colleagues from Dalhousie University (Canada) explored the effect of piperine on angiogenesis, in a lab animal model. The team found that piperine inhibited the conversion of certain regulators of endothelial cell function and angiogenesis, as well as inhibited the pathway that is implicated in the proliferation and transition of tumors from a dormant state to a malignant one. The study authors conclude: "These data support the further investigation of piperine as an angiogenesis inhibitor for use in cancer treatment."

Doucette CD, Hilchie AL, Liwski R, Hoskin DW. Piperine, a dietary phytochemical, inhibits angiogenesis. J Nutr Biochem. 2012 Aug 16.

Soybean Protein for Cancer Prevention

Proteins found in soybeans may inhibit the growth of colon, liver, and lung cancers. Srinivas J. Rayaprolu and colleagues from the University of Arkansas (US) monitored bioactivity between peptides derived from the meals of various soybean lines and a variety of types of human cancer cells. The study showed that peptides derived from soybean meal significantly inhibited cell growth by 73% for colon cancer, 70% for liver cancer, and 68% for lung cancer cells using human cell lines. Submitting that their data are the "first study to report anti-cancer bioactive peptides from high oleic acid soybeans," the investigators conclude: "Soybean peptide fractions can thus be a source of bioactivity against colon, liver and lung cancer cell proliferation."

Rayaprolu SJ, Hettiarachchy NS, Chen P, Kannan A, Mauromostakos A. Peptides derived from high oleic acid soybean meals inhibit colon, liver and lung cancer cell growth. Food Res Int. January 2013; 50(1):282-288.

Magnesium May Help Reduce Colon Cancer Risk

Increased magnesium in the diet may reduce the risk of developing colon cancer. G. C. Chen and colleagues from Soochow University (China) analyzed data from eight prospective studies involving 338,979 subjects, with data available for 8000 cases of colorectal cancer. The team revealed that the highest average intakes of magnesium were associated with an 11% reduction in the risk of colorectal cancer, as compared with the lowest intakes of the mineral. In further analysis that was restricted to the six studies that adjusted for calcium intake, the data showed that the risk of colon cancer was 19% lower, and that for rectal cancer 6% lower, for the highest average magnesium intakes. The study authors conclude: "On the basis of the findings of this meta-analysis, a higher magnesium intake seems to be associated with a modest reduction in the risk of [colorectal cancer], in particular, colon cancer."

Chen G-C, Pang Z, Liu Q-F. Magnesium intake and risk of colorectal cancer: a meta-analysis of prospective studies. Eur J Clin Nutr. 3 October 2012.

Omega-3s May Protect Against Skin Cancer

Dietary supplementation of omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil may help to protect against skin cancer. Lesley Rhodes and colleagues from the University of Manchester (UK) enrolled 79 men and women, aged 22 to 60 years, to consume either a supplement containing 5 g of omega-3 fatty acids (70% eicosapentaenoic acid [EPA] and 10% docosahexaenoic acid [DHA]) or a control pill, daily for 3 months. The subjects were then exposed to the equivalent of 8, 15, or 30 minutes of summer midday sun using a light machine that emitted solar-simulated radiation. The team observed that immunosuppression was 50% lower in subjects who took the omega-3 supplement and were exposed to 8 or 15 minutes of simulated sunlight, as compared with people who did not take the supplement. The study authors conclude: "Oral [omega-3 fatty acids] appear to abrogate photoimmunosuppression in human skin, providing additional support for their chemopreventive role."

Pilkington SM, Massey KA, Bennett SP, et al. Randomized controlled trial of oral omega-3 PUFA in solar-simulated radiation-induced suppression of human cutaneous immune responses. Am J Clin Num March 2013 97:646-652.

Strawberry Compounds May Protect the Skin

Strawberry extract added to skin cell cultures acts as a protector against ultraviolet radiation, as well as increasing its viability and reducing damage to DNA. Strawberry (Fragaria x ananassa) contains a number of polyphenols with strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities. Maurizio Battino and colleagues from the Universita Politecnica delle Marche (Italy) prepared human skin cell cultures (fibroblasts) and added strawberry extract in different concentrations (0.05, 0.25, and 0.5 mg/ml), the only exception being the control extract. The samples were then exposed to a dose of ultraviolet light "equivalent to 90 minutes of midday summer sun in the French Riviera." Data confirm that the strawberry extract, especially at a concentration of 0.5 mg/ml, displays photoprotective properties in those fibroblasts exposed to UVA radiation, increases cell survival and viability, and decreases damage in the DNA when compared with control cells. The study authors conclude: "Our data show that strawberry contains compounds that confer photoprotective activity in human cell lines and may protect skin against the adverse effects of UV-A radiation."

Giampieri F, Alvarez-Suarez IM, Tulipani S. et al. Photoprotective potential of strawberry (Fragaria x ananassa) extract against UV-A irradiation damage on human fibroblasts. J Agric Food Chem. 2012;60(9):2322-2327.

Screenings Lower than Recommended

Along with prevention, early detection is an anticancer essential. Over the past decade, the US has seen a decrease in advanced cancer diagnoses. Tainya C. Clarke and colleagues from the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine (Florida, US) compared screening trends among all cancer survivors, working survivors, and the general population over the last decade. The researchers used the recommended cancer screening rates set by the US Department of Health and Human Services and looked at data from the National Health Interview Survey between 1997 and 2010. In total, 174,393 people were included in the study analysis, with 7528 employed cancer survivors and 119,374 people representing the general population. Results showed that the general public did not meet government recommendations for cancer screenings for any cancer types except colorectal cancer. Cancer survivors, who are at an increased risk of developing the disease, had higher screening rates and underwent the recommended cancer screenings for all types except cervical cancer, which decreased to 78% over the last decade. The study also showed a decline among cancer survivors who sought cancer screenings over the last three years. Observing that "national screening rates are lower than desired, and disparities exist by cancer history and occupation," the study authors urge: "Understanding existing disparities, and the impact of cancer screening on survivors is crucial as the number of working survivors increases."

Clarke TC, Soler-Vila H, Fleming LE, Christ SL, Lee DJ, Arheart KL. Trends in adherence to recommended cancer screening; the US population and working cancer survivors. Front Oncol, 27 December 2012.

To stay updated on the latest breakthroughs in natural approaches to cancer prevention, visit the World Health Network (, the official educational website of the A4M and your one-stop resource for authoritative anti-aging information. Be sure to sign up for the free Longevity Magazine e-journal, your weekly health newsletter featuring wellness, prevention, and biotech advancements in longevity.

by Ronald Klatz, MD, DO, and Robert Goldman, MD, PhD, DO, FAASP
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Author:Klatz, Ronald; Goldman, Robert
Publication:Townsend Letter
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Aug 1, 2013
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