ACRI’s Cancer-related Herbs and Spices

Spices have been widely used as food flavorings and folk medicines for thousands of years. Numerous studies have documented the antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory effects of spices, which might be related to prevention and treatment of several cancers, including lung, liver, breast, stomach, colorectum, cervix, and prostate cancers. Several spices are potential sources for prevention and treatment of cancers like Curcuma longa (tumeric), Allium sativum (garlic) and Capsicum annum (chili pepper), which contained several important bioactive compounds, such as curcumin, allicin and capsaicin. The main mechanisms of action include inducing apoptosis, inhibiting proliferation, migration and invasion of tumors, and sensitizing tumors to radiotherapy and chemotherapy.

Other mechanims involved ROS and DNA damage, causing G2/M arrest, inhibiting tumorigenesis, proliferation, invasion, metastasis and migration. In addition, the anticancer properties of spices against breast and prostate cancer are related to regulating hormones or hormone receptors, including estrogen receptor and androgen receptor. Some spices can also sensitize cancer cells to radiotherapy and chemotherapeutic drugs, such as 5-FU and gemcitabine. The doses to achieve equivalent cancer control of radiation or the chemotherapy drugs can be lowered by combined treatment of spices, thus minimizing the adverse effects or chemo and RT to normal tissues.

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