Category Archives: cancer research

Dr. Mercola and Dr. LaValley Discuss Curcumin

Dr. Mercola wrote a very interesting article about curcuma which I would like to share with you all. I hope you will enjoy it.

Best regards, Michiel Floris

By Dr. Mercola

Cancer is one of the leading causes of death. What if there was a safe, natural herb that could work for nearly every type of cancer?

According to Dr. William LaValley, who focuses most of his clinical work on the treatment of cancer, curcumin—a derivative of turmeric, and the pigment that gives the curry spice turmeric its yellow-orange color—may fit the bill. It’s a natural compound that has been extensively researched, and has been found to have numerous health applications.

Like me, Dr. LaValley was trained in general medicine, but he’s devoted a considerable amount of time to understanding the biochemical pathways that can support health nutritionally.

In 1982, he participated in an exchange program to the People’s Republic of China, where he got first-hand experience with the ancient practices of traditional Chinese medicine and acupuncture.

“One of the important messages that I learned there was that natural products, natural molecules, from plants and animals that are already available in nature, have been used by the Chinese for at least hundreds, probably thousands of years. That deeply changed my perspective in the world of medicine,” he says.

“I came back to medical school, and thereafter, looked at how I could integrate the perspective of conventional pharmaceutical administration as well as natural extract, natural product administration.”

Curcumin Has Potent Anti-Cancer Activity

In 2005, he took a 75 percent sabbatical from clinical practice to immerse himself in the science of molecular biology, specifically the molecular biology of cancer. He also devoted approximately 9,000-9,500 hours building a relational database from the PubMed literature about the molecular biology of cancer.

One important lesson he learned through that venture is that the understanding of molecular biology can be applied across a range of diseases and symptoms described in the scientific literature. That knowledge can be applied by searching PubMed and other related databases, looking at the relevant molecular pathways involved.

“In learning the molecular biology of cancer pathways, and in learning that what the evidence actually shows for the effect of natural product extracts on various relevant molecular targets in various cancers, we see that there’s actually quite a large amount of evidence that supports using various molecules, natural products, and pharmaceuticals that are already approved and that have been around for a long time to affect anti-cancer activity along that pathway at that target. That’s called molecularly targeted anti-cancer treatment, and it’s widely practiced in oncology today.

What’s not widely practiced is the use of the natural products for the molecularly targeted anti-cancer activity. I provide that for my patients because the evidence base suggests and supports the use of these treatment recommendations.”

Curcumin—A ‘Universal’ Cancer Treatment?

Interestingly, curcumin appears to be universally useful for just about every type of cancer, which is really odd since cancer consists of a wide variety of different molecular pathologies. You wouldn’t necessarily suspect that there would be one herb that would work for most of them. Dr. LaValley explains how he came to this conclusion:

“I went back to the literature and looked at how I can support the decision-making process and the recommendations that I’m making for treatment from the scientific literature, including literature that goes from the treatment of humans with oral products like pharmaceuticals or natural products.

This is where I learned about this molecule called curcumin, all the way down to its use in animals and then its use in test tubes or petri dish… One of the amazing things about curcumin is that this molecule has some profound anti-inflammatory activity and has activity in many molecular targets.

There are molecules that are in the cells, and those molecules interact with each other along certain pathways or tracks. The traffic of that interaction, the signals that are transferred in that trafficking of information in the molecules, presents many different targets or molecular-specific complexes.”

As explained by Dr. LaValley, whether the curcumin molecule causes an increase in traffic or activity of a particular molecular target, or a decrease/inhibition of activity, studies repeatedly show that the end result is a potent anti-cancer activity. Furthermore, curcumin does not adversely affect healthy cells, suggesting it selectively targets cancer cells. Research has also shown that it works synergistically with certain chemotherapy drugs, enhancing the elimination of cancer cells.

Curcumin Destroys Cancer in Multiple Ways

Curcumin has the most evidence-based literature supporting its use against cancer of any nutrient, including vitamin D, which also has a robust base. Interestingly, this also includes the metabolite of curcumin and its derivatives, which are also anti-cancerous.

Curcumin has the ability to modulate genetic activity and expression—both by destroying cancer cells and by promoting healthy cell function. It also promotes anti-angiogenesis, meaning it helps prevent the development of additional blood supply necessary for cancer cell growth. As for its effect on molecular pathways, curcumin can affect more than 100 of them, once it gets into the cell. More specifically, curcumin has been found to:

Inhibit the proliferation of tumor cells Decrease inflammation
Inhibit the transformation of cells from normal to tumor Inhibit the synthesis of a protein thought to be instrumental in tumor formation
Help your body destroy mutated cancer cells so they cannot spread throughout your body Help prevent the development of additional blood supply necessary for cancer cell growth (angiogenesis)

Why Whole Turmeric Is Ineffective

Unfortunately, while there’s some curcumin in whole turmeric, there’s not enough in the regular spice to achieve clinically relevant results. The turmeric root itself contains only about three percent curcumin concentration. Another major limitation of curcumin as a therapeutic agent is that it is poorly absorbed. When taken in its raw form, you’re only absorbing about one percent of the available curcumin.

“The natural product industry has developed a standard of a 95-percent concentration of curcumin,” Dr. LaValley explains. “Initially, years ago, that was what we had available for patients. Even at that, taking a 95-percent concentration orally in a capsule, only one percent of that could be absorbed. In order to get amounts of curcumin in the bloodstream that are reasonable to have therapeutic effect, people had to take large amounts of curcumin…

In searching the literature, I found that a way to change that, to dramatically increase the bioavailability, is actually a very simple process of bringing water to a boil, putting those capsules or some dry powder (I use it by the teaspoon), and boiling it for 10 to 12 minutes. That increases the amount of curcumin dissolved in water from that one-percent amount up to 12 percent or so. That amount is a vast number of curcumin molecules that are now in a bioavailable or absorbable form.”

However, while this is certainly doable, it’s really inconvenient, and great care must be taken to prevent staining your clothes and kitchen surfaces. It’s a significant enough problem to have been dubbed “yellow kitchen syndrome,” as it’s virtually impossible to get the stains out. Turmeric is in fact an excellent dyeing agent for fabrics, rendering them a yellow-orange color.

Convenience and efficiency has driven many of the changes in the forms of curcumin in later years. Because it’s a fat-loving or lipophilic molecule, many newer preparations now include some sort of oil or fat, which improves its absorbability and bioavailability. Such preparations typically have seven to eight times higher absorption than the raw, unprocessed 95-percent-concentration of dry powder. There are also newer sustained release preparations, which Dr. LaValley prefers and recommends.

The Connection Between Cancer and Insulin Resistance

If you are overweight, or have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and/or diabetes, then in all likelihood insulin and leptin resistance is a factor. Insulin and leptin resistance is also a very common factor among cancer patients. From my perspective, a ketogenic diet (with or without intermittent fasting) would be a prudent treatment strategy to resolve that underlying problem. Once you’ve normalized your insulin and leptin, you don’t necessarily need to maintain a ketogenic diet, if you find it too restrictive.

“I agree with you that a ketogenic diet is really appropriate in many cases, probably the significant majority of cases,” Dr. LaValley says. “It’s been known for probably 80 years or longer that solid tumors, and some of the blood cancers, are sugar-loving. Another term is that they are addicted to sugar.

I use [a] PET scan to demonstrate to patients that here is objective proof that the tumors you have in your body are sugar-avid. They’re taking up sugar at a rate much higher than the other regular healthy cells. I want to drive home that message, so that they are motivated to alter their diet to have a low, low carb intake, causing their body to generate additional nutrient supply molecules called ketones…

What that means is that we’re trying to provide an anti-cancer antagonistic pressure on the cancer cells by reducing the amount of sugar that’s readily available for uptake by reducing the easily available sugar in the diet and compensating for the nutrient reduction and sugar [reduction] by increasing healthy fats.”

Cutting Down on Protein May Be Particularly Useful for Cancer Patients

It would also be prudent to assess your protein intake. Many Americans eat far more protein than required for optimal health. The reason for this is because your body can actually use excess protein (you do need some) to stimulate carbohydrate production. Excess protein also stimulates the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) pathways, which are useful for building muscles but can be detrimental when treating cancer, as mTOR is a pathway that increases cellular proliferation. (Interestingly, the pharmaceutical drug Metformin, which has anti-cancer activity, also inhibits mTOR, and it turns out that curcumin has a very similar effect.)

The formula I recommend for assessing how much protein you might need in your diet is from Dr. Rosedale, which calls for one gram of high-quality protein per kilogram of lean body mass, or about half a gram per pound of lean body mass.

As an example, if your body fat mass is 20 percent, your lean mass is 80 percent of your total body weight. So, if your total weight is 200 pounds; you would then divide 160 by 2.2 to convert pounds to kilograms and come up with 72.7 grams of protein. If you are doing vigorous exercises or are pregnant, you can add up to another 25 percent or another 18 grams in this illustration to increase your total to 90 grams per day.

More Information

Dr. LaValley is available for consultation on a wide variety of health challenges, including cancer, and he’s licensed to practice medicine in the US and Canada. His medical clinic is located in Chester, Nova Scotia, where he sees patients. Americans can fly there either through Chicago or Newark. His office number is 902-275-4555. He also spends time in Austin, Texas, where he conducts research. When there, he’s available to consult for other physicians and their patients.

“For instance, if a patient has pancreatic cancer and the physician wants to implement one of the protocols that I provide, I will do a consultation with that physician’s patient and then make recommendations to that physician for implementation,” he explains. “In that way, patients are able to get it locally without having to travel to Nova Scotia…

It’s a challenge right now because there’s so much information that’s not readily known by so many physicians that they become afraid. I think one of the biggest issues, certainly in US and Canada, is that when a physician wants to administer one of these natural products, or several of them, as well as some of the off-label pharmaceuticals for their anti-cancer usage, they are afraid of recriminations or disciplinary actions.

That is, I think, very unfortunate, because the evidence base does exist for it, and it’s consistent with the way that other types of conventional medicine or practice using off-label pharmaceuticals as well. I think that the most important movement that needs to occur is for the patients to recognize their own value in the decision-making process and demand that they have access to these therapeutic choices because they’re available, they’re supported in the evidence base, and they have the right to ask for them rather than to just accept whatever the physician is otherwise offering in the conventional realm.”





Foods That Are High in Sulforaphane


Sulforaphane belongs to a group of phytochemicals, or disease-fighting compounds in plant foods, known as the isothiocyanates. Along with related phytochemicals, it helps to prevent against the development of cancer. Sulforaphane prevents certain enzymes from activating cancer-causing agents in the body and increases the body’s production of other enzymes that clean carcinogens out of the system before they can damage cells, according to sources such as the Breast Cancer Research Program. Sulforaphane is produced in cruciferous vegetable plants only when two enzymes in separate “sacs” react, myrosinase and glucoraphanin.

Broccoli Sprouts

Broccoli sprouts are the richest food source of glucoraphanin, the precursor to sulforaphane, or SFN, also known as glucoraphanin sulforaphane. Three-day old broccoli sprouts are concentrated sources of this phytochemical, offering 10 to 100 times more of it, by weight, than mature broccoli plants or cauliflower, according to research published in September 1997 in the “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.” A 1-ounce serving provides 73 milligrams of sulforaphane glucosinolate. Per 100-gram serving, broccoli sprouts offer approximately 250 milligrams. You can purchase broccoli sprouts at many health food stores and certain grocery stores. Lightly cooked, they taste similar to steamed spinach.

Brussels Sprouts

Another vegetable within the cruciferous or Brassaca family is the Brussels sprout. According to the Linus Pauling Institute for Micronutrient Research, while all cruciferous vegetables are rich in these disease-fighting phytochemicals, some cruciferous vegetables are better sources of specific glucosinolates, or sulforaphane precursors, than others. A 1/2-cup serving or 44 grams of Brussels sprouts, raw, provides approximately 104 milligrams of total glucosinolates. Glucosinolates are water-soluble compounds that are leached into cooking water. These phytochemicals are easily destroyed. Boiling cruciferous vegetables for just 9 to 15 minutes decreases total glucosinolate content by 18 to 59 percent, according to research published in September 2003 in the “British Journal of Nutrition.” Cooking methods that use less water, such as microwaving or steaming, may reduce losses.


Sulforaphane as food ingredient against cancer


In several (laboratory) experiments the broccoli ingredient sulforaphane shows activity against highly aggressive cancer stem cells of pancreas and prostate. Recently the University of Heidelberg published data which are in the meanwhile confirmed by other researchers in breast and prostate cancer. Their data are supported by epidemiological studies, in which nutritional habits of large population groups with respect to cancer risk and progression of cancer have been evaluated.

Although the present data are promising, they can only be transferred to the clinical treatment of cancer patients, if positive data from clinical trials are available. In the United States clinical trials with broccoli sprouts are ongoing since 2012 to examine the effect of sulforaphane to precursor lesions of malignant melanoma, prostate and bladder cancer. In Heidelberg preparations for initiation of a pilot study are ongoing to evaluate the effect of broccoli sprouts to 40 patients with advanced pancreatic cancer, which are treated at the Department of General and Transplantation Surgery of the University of Heidelberg. Half of the patients will receive chemotherapy and broccoli sprouts the other half will receive chemotherapy and a placebo, followed by evaluation of quality of life, tumor marker expression, tumor growth and survival. The realization of this study was enabled by a donation of the Heidelberger Stiftung Chirurgie and Norbert Deiters (Deiters & Florin). Independently of this study you may uptake sulforaphane easily via nutrition. In the following you will find information about sulforaphane-containing food and further interesting data to nutrition and cancer.

General Information to Sulforaphane

Since the ancient the beneficial effects of cruciferous vegetables have been used therapeutically. This plant family contains e.g. broccoli and cauliflower, all cabbage types, but also cress, nasturtium, rucola, radish, horseradish, canola and mustard. In the meantime, the active ingredients of the cruciferous vegetables have been identified as mustard oil glycosides, of which more than 150 different are known. These are present in different amounts in the numerous representatives of cruciferous vegetables. They are responsible for the sharp taste of radish, horseradish and mustard or the partially bitter taste of different cabbage species. One of the most famous and best-studied mustard oil glycosides is glucoraphanin. Glucoraphanin is cleaved into the active substance sulforaphane, which we used for our experimental studies. Sulforaphane is not yet available as pure substance in a medicament. However, you may uptake sulforaphane by diet in therapeutically active concentrations. A prospective epidemiological nutrition study with prostate cancer patients demonstrates that frequent intake of broccoli or cauliflower (3-5 servings per week) significantly reduces the risk for invasion of the tumor to 50%. Other epidemiological studies show a cancer preventive effect of high cabbage intake. Numerous scientific examinations demonstrate that sulforaphane and related mustard oils help to fight inflammation and infections with bacteria and viruses and inhibit tumor growth. Recent data also show a positive influence of cabbage to the gut microbiome. A healthy gut microbiome is essential to strengthen the immune system and thus improved tumor defense.

Sulforaphane Against Tumor Stem Cells

We were the first worldwide who demonstrated in laboratory experiments and in mice that sulforaphane attacks the particularly aggressive tumor stem cells in experimental models of pancreatic cancer and thereby sensitize them for chemotherapy. According to the hypothesis tumor stem cells are responsible for growth and metastasis of cancer. They survive current chemo- and radiotherapies. Since the normal tumor cells are sensitive, they die under therapy and thus the tumor often shrinks during the first therapy cycles. However, the small population of resistant tumor stem cells remains viable and is made responsible for re-growth of the tumor. We even see that tumor stem cells are enriched during repeated chemotherapeutic treatment and therefore the tumor becomes completely resistant after several treatment cycles. A nutrition rich in sulforaphane-containing vegetables may counteract enrichment of tumor stem cells.

Exact Dosage of Sulforaphane in Patients is Unknown

If the effective one-time dosage of sulforaphane in mice is converted to an equivalent dose in humans based on the body-surface this results in 0.36 mg sulforaphane per kg body weight or: 25.2 mg Sulforaphane for a Person Weighing 70 kg. This dosage was calculated according to a formula, which is used by a veterinarian to calculate drug doses for different animal species. The number of 25.2 mg sulforaphane obtained is about factor 10 lower than than a dose, which is calculated directly from the body weight of the mouse to human. In just initiated clinical trials in the United States for treatment of precursors of malignant melanoma, prostate and bladder cancer 88 mg sulforaphane will be administered daily for several weeks. In our scheduled pilot study for pancreatic cancer 90 mg sulforaphane in the form of broccoli sprouts in 15 capsules will be daily administered for one year. We do not know which exact dose could be properly for therapy of cancer patients. Epidemiological studies indicate that a salutary dose of sulforaphane and related mustard oils may be administered by regular nutrition rich in vegetable of the cruciferous family.

Consumption of Sulforaphane via Cabbage and Broccoli Sprouts

The valuable ingredients of cruciferous vegetables are best obtained when they are eaten raw and chewed well, or if they are shortly steam-cooked or sauted. Sulforaphane is water-soluble, that means the cooking water should not been thrown away, but used for a sauce or soup. A very good source for sulforaphane are broccoli sprouts since they contain 10-100 times more sulforaphane than a broccoli head – dependent on species and growth conditions. You may germinate broccoli seeds yourself or use commercially available freeze-dried broccoli sprouts.

Commercially available sulforaphane products have typical concentrations of 2.5 to 10 mg pure sulforaphane per capsule or a comparable amount of seedling shotgun. Please contact the manufacturer for detailed concentrations. Please understand that we cannot provide calculations for concentrations and do recommend manufacturers for broccoli products. We are molecular biologists and are not involved in testing these products.

Self-breeding of Sprouts for Herbed Quark, Salad, Sandwiches

For self-breeding of broccoli sprouts simple clay coasters or special glasses for sprouts may be suited. More decorative may be a sprouting hedgehog, which is offered for example from the german company Römertopf. In addition, there are multistory germ units made of plastic or clay. Sprouting devices may be obtained from health-foodsShops or from online shops.

At these companies you will also find suited seeds for sprouts. Please do not restrict sprout breeding to broccoli. Salutary effects have been detected also for other members of the crucifers, e.g. for mustard, radish, horseradish, cress, nasturtium, arugula, brussels sprouts, cauliflower and green cabbage. Of special interest is the “Brokkoletti” seed derived from a broccoli wild-form, which produces more sulforaphane than cultured broccoli. Very tasty are sprouts from white mustard (sharp), radish (decoratively red) or cress. Attention: Should the sprouts be contaminated (e.g. due to excess of water or too cold temperatures), purify dishes of clay well with a dishwashing brush and by baking in the oven for 45 min, 200°C.

Side Effects of Broccoli Florets and Broccoli Sprouts

Almost everyone knows the flatulent effect of cabbage. Other known effects of cabbage to digestion are due to the two atoms of sulphur in glucosinolates. During break down of cabbage by gut bacteria hydrogen sulphide is produced and responsible for a ‘rotten egg’ odor. Besides, sulforaphane acts as an indirect antioxidant. Antioxidant supplements may help protect normal cells from oxidative damage and reduce the short- and long-term harmful effects of cancer treatment. On the other hand, concern has been raised that antioxidant supplements may also protect tumor cells during radiotherapy and chemotherapy, thereby compromising treatment efficacy. This has resulted in controversy over guidelines for the use of vitamin supplements during cancer treatment. We tested this issue in an experimental human pancreatic cancer xenograft model in mice. We found that sulforaphane increased the effect of gemcitabine, cisplatin, doxorubicin, 5-fluorouracil, sorafenib, TRAIL and quercetin to growth inhibition of tumor xenografts. These laboratory experiments are promising but cannot be directly transferred to the clinic. For a definite statement we need the data of a patient study, in which sulforaphane is administered together with chemotherapy. Regarding broccoli sprouts it should be considered that the sprouts may be contaminated with dangerous gut bacteria or fungi due to the warm and humid germination. In addition to glucoraphanin, broccoli contains the goitrogenic glucosinolates glucobrassicin and progoitrin. However, cabbage does not alter thyroid function in humans unless massive amounts are consumed. Notably, sprouts of many broccoli cultivars contain negligible quantities of glucobrassicin, which predominate in the mature vegetable.

Additional Research with Foods to Fight Cancer Stem Cells

It is increasingly clear that mustard oils and especially sulforaphane possess cancer preventive and therapeutic properties, of which the anti-CSC activity is of special interest. Although we were the first research team worldwide that discovered that sulforaphane eliminates pancreatic cancer stem cell features, ongoing research detected in the meantime other naturally occurring plant substances with anti-CSC activity. Our research shows that the polyphenol quercetin, present in broccoli and many other fruits and vegetables, is also able to eliminate pancreatic CSC characteristics and thereby enhances the effect of sulforaphane. Latest experimental data identified anti-CSC activities in legumes (genistein from soybeans), curcuma (curcumin, contained e.g. in curry), tomatoes (lycopen), grapes, berries, plums and peanuts (resveratrol, e.g. in grape seed oil, red wine), black pepper (piperin), green tea (EGCG), and fish, egg yolk, cod liver oil (Vitamin D). Regarding Vitamin D it should be considered that this hormone is produced to more than 80% by our body after sun exposure of the skin. The importance of sufficient Vitamin D levels in the body has been underlined by a recent study which clearly demonstrates that sufficient plasma levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D >75 nmol/L were associated with a lower risk for pancreatic cancer among participants in five large prospective cohorts. The actual available data reveal that a frequent intake of vegetables of the cruciferous family along with a colourful selection of many other fruits and vegetables combined with sufficient sun exposure may lower the cancer risk and prolong life of cancer patients.

Please also note the recommendations below for nutrition and life-style for prevention and treatment of cancer:

  1. Be as lean as possible without becoming underweight
  2. Be physically active for at least 30 minutes every day
  3. Avoid sugary drinks. Limit consumption of energy-dense foods
  4. Eat more of a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes such as beans
  5. Limit consumption of red meats (such as beef, pork and lamb) and avoid processed meats
  6. If consumed at all, limit alcoholic drinks to 2 for men and 1 for women a day
  7. Limit consumption of salty foods and foods processed with salt
  8. Don’t use supplements to protect against cancer
  9. *It is best for mothers to breastfeed exclusively for up to 6 months and then add other liquids and foods
  10. *After treatment, cancer survivors should follow the recommendations for cancer prevention

* Special Population Recommendations

And always remember – do not smoke or chew tobacco.

Leading organizations (WCRF/AICR) recommend not to use dietary supplements to protect against cancer. In fact nutrition and general habits should be changed for good. A healthy lifestyle provides sufficient levels of secondary plant substances i.e. sulforaphane to your body. Freeze-dried broccoli sprouts recommended above may still be taken additionally. It is a healthy food that contains lots of fibers and which is rich of sulforaphane. However, if you eat cruciferous vegetables like cress, radish, mustard, cabbage on a regular basis and use canola oil, it will presumably have the same positive effect.

General Adjustment of Diet and Lifestyle is important

Broccoli and its sprouts alone are certainly not a panacea, which is taken like a headache tablet and then all will be well again. For a broad scale intake of many bioactive agents to fight tumor stem cells a balanced, mostly plant-based diet with a high content in raw food is important. Daily outdoor exercise for at least 30 min are important for sufficient vitamin D levels, for a healthy stress-balance and good mood.

Original source

Sugar and cancer: what you need to know

Sugar and cancer: what you need to know.

Attached you will find a link to the site of Dawn Waldron. She is a professional coach and nutritionist and has her own practise in the United Kingdom. Dawm wrote an article about the relation between sugar and cancer. A subject to which I also paid a lot of attention to. Dawn manages to find the words to explain one and another in a remarkable clear way. I hope you will enjoy the article as I did!

Eating Tomatoes Lowers Breast Cancer Risk?


Beneficial compounds in tomatoes may help lower the risk of breast cancer for postmenopausal women, according to a new study. The researchers show that the lycopene found in tomatoes may modify levels of adipokine hormones, which have been linked to obesity and inflammation.

“This is important because obesity and inflammation are both known to be associated with increased breast cancer risk, especially among women who are postmenopausal,” lead author Adana Llanos, PhD, MPH, of the Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, told Cancer Network. The study, published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, is the first to examine the effects of a lycopene-rich diet in postmenopausal women, according to Llanos.

The researchers examined the effects of both lycopene and isoflavone-rich diets on serum levels of adipokines. The 70 postmenopausal women at higher risk for breast cancer who participated in the study first ate a tomato-based diet for 10 weeks. After a wash-out period of 2 weeks, the same participants ate a diet rich in soy protein (more than 4 g of soy daily) for 10 weeks. The researchers measured the effects of the diet on biomarkers that have been linked to inflammation and obesity such as adiponectin and leptin.

Eating the lycopene-rich fruit resulted in an increase serum levels of adiponectin by an average of 9%, particularly among the nonobese women in the study.  Adiponectin is a hormone known to regulate glucose levels and has been shown to influence the risk of breast cancer. The strongest effects were among women with lower body mass indices.

Following the soy-rich diet, the participants had lower levels of the hormone.  No detectable changes in leptin levels were seen.

“Lycopene has powerful antioxidant properties, which are important for blocking the action of free radicals that are damaging to the cells in our bodies,” said Llanos. Previous studies have shown that lycopene can prevent growth of breast cancer cells in mouse models. But, the role of consuming lycopene-rich foods in women at risk for breast cancer has not previously been studied.

“Among postmenopausal women who are at increased risk of breast cancer, increased consumption of fruits and vegetables, particularly tomatoes, which are high in nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals like lycopene, could be an important practical strategy to promote breast cancer prevention,” said Llanos.

Still, the results are preliminary and based on a small, nonrandomized cohort of women. How exactly lycopene or other phytochemicals benefit as putative chemopreventive agents is not yet known.

The authors tested the role of soy in modulating hormone levels because soy is a staple of the Asian diet and may be part of the reason Asian women have lower rates of breast cancer compared to their Western counterparts. Previous studies connecting soy consumption and breast cancer have been mixed.

“My colleagues and I would like to continue future studies that examine longer-term effects of dietary lycopene and other phytonutrients, separately and in combination with exercise interventions, that may prove useful in breast cancer prevention,” said Llanos. “Additional areas of research we are interested in include understanding the underlying molecular mechanisms linking obesity and breast cancer risk.”


Original study: