Plants contain thousands of natural compounds that science has shown benefit human health and shield us against chronic diseases ranging from heart disease and stroke to diabetes, dementia and cancer. There are still thousands of yet unidentified chemical compounds in plants and vegetables we consume that likely work in synergy with existing phytonutrients that provide antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits to promote healthy metabolism and cellular homeostasis.
A research team from Washington State University has published the result of a study in the journal, Cancer and Metastasis Reviews to explain how more than 40 plant-based compounds have been identified that can turn on genes known to slow the spread of cancer. This is an especially significant finding because the spread of cancer is most often what makes the disease fatal. The authors note that this study reinforces a rapidly growing body of research showing that diet, nutrients and plant-based chemicals are opening many new avenues of attack against this dreaded killer disease.
The lead study author, Dr. Gary Meadows focused his work on how nutrients can prevent the deadly spread of cancer cells or metastasis, rather than traditional work based on the prevention and treatment of cancerous tumors. He commented “There are lots of magic bullets out there in what we eat and associated with our lifestyle. We just need to take advantage of those… and they can work together.” He focused in particular on genes that suppress metastasis, an area considered an afterthought by many of his research peers in other studies.
Thousands of plant-based compounds promote human health and prevent cancer metastasis
Dr. Meadows reviewed prior studies that found a positive correlation between natural nutrient intake and cancer suppression, and looked to see when metastasis suppressor genes were turned on or off, even if the original authors didn’t make a direct connection. Ultimately, he documented dozens of substances affecting the metastasis suppressor genes of numerous cancer lines.
The study identified more than 40 substances like amino acids, vitamin D, ginseng extract, the tomato carotenoid lycopene, the turmeric component curcumin, pomegranate juice, fish oil and others affecting gene expression in breast, colorectal, prostate, skin, lung and other cancers. Each natural compound was found to act epigenetically, which is to say they turned metastasis suppressor genes on or off.
Dr. Meadows concluded “These epigenetic mechanisms are influenced by what you eat… that may also be related to how the metastasis suppressor genes are being regulated. That’s a very new area of research that has largely not been very well explored in terms of diet and nutrition.” This research provides yet another vital link between the thousands of natural chemicals and compounds that exist in the foods we eat, and the importance of eating a wide variety of different colored fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds daily to prevent the development and metastasis of cancerous cells.