The field of cancer research is shifting much of its focus away from treating established cancers to preventing clinical cancers from ever occurring. It is now understood that cancer formation is a long-term dynamic process with competing factors that can either enhance or delay the ultimate development of a lifethreatening disease.
The body is composed of approximately 3 trillion cells, which develop from a single fertilized ovum. Cellular proliferation is essential for growth and development; maintenance of normally replicating tissues, such as skin, gastrointestinal tract and bone marrow; and repair of tissue damage. Unlike in overt cancers, the proliferation in normal tissues is controlled and limited to the body’s needs. Cancer cells not only divide excessively but also acquire the capacity to proliferate beyond their normal location within the body. The DNA of cancer cells is typically quite different from their corresponding normal cells. Genes that are ordinarily only transiently activated during normal growth or cellular repair remain overly active in cancer cells. This can occur either because the body’s genes have been altered by mutations or by the inclusion of additional genes delivered to the cells through virus infections.
Advances in molecular biology have helped pinpoint the aberrant genetic pathways operating in specific types of cancer cells and in their precursors. The picture is emerging of a multi-step process occurring over several decades with potential reversals of the changes throughout this lengthy period by natural repair processes. The immune system can also become alerted to presence of cancer cells and lead to their elimination through cytotoxic mechanisms.
Insights into the repair mechanisms have come from studying the genetic changes caused by known environmental chemicals, such as polycyclic hydrocarbons in cigarettes. The chemicals are initially activated into a form, which can directly interact with cellular DNA causing subsequent errors during DNA replication. Activating enzymes are referred to as Phase I and can be suppressed via a second set of enzymes referred to as Phase II detoxifying and anti-oxidant enzymes. Moreover, a separate class of enzymes exist that can detect and repair chemically damaged (mutated) DNA. Finally, cells with damaged DNA can be triggered to undergo self-destruction through a process called apoptosis. Similar events are known to occur with cells infected with cancer causing viruses.
A major advance in cancer prevention is the finding that certain foods can lead to cancer prevention. Foods can suppress Phase I enzymes; elevate levels of Phase II enzymes; enhance DNA repairing enzymes and promote apoptosis in cells with damaged DNA. Each of these activities has been ascribed to phytonutrients present in the leaves of the moringa tree. These leaves are exceptionally rich in chlorophyll and many potent antioxidant flavonoids, including quercetin and kaempferol. A pressing question is, therefore, whether ingesting moringa leaves or “Moringa Life Oil” derived from these leaves can significantly reduce the likelihood of cancer development and even suppress cancers once they have fully developed.
Another area of pressing interest is the ongoing questioning of whether basic chemotherapy for many cancers is, in fact, undermining the body’s natural cancer defense mechanisms. Chemotherapy can possibly also provide tumor cells with an escape mechanism from the immune system., as well as rendering the cancer patient susceptible to severe infections. Again, moringa based food products are of considerable interest in potentially minimizing the immunosuppressive side effects of routine cancer chemotherapy.
I am focusing my research on a third potential mechanism by which moringa might assist cancer patients. Apoptosis is an energy requiring process by which cancer cells conveniently undergo self-destruction. Acting as an enerceutical,™ moringa may activate the alternative cellular energy (ACE) pathway. The energy derived from the ACE pathway differs from that obtained from the metabolism of food. Cancer cells typically are quite defective in their mitochondria processing of food-derived metabolites. By activating their ACE pathway, sufficient cellular energy may be made available for cancer cells to complete apoptosis. The ACE pathway is also an adjunct to the immune system in the control of infectious diseases. A trial of ACE pathway activation is warranted in patients with known or suspected cancers.
In summary, the ingestion of moringa leaves and/or moringa life oil should be studied in non-operable cancer patients. At a minimum, it might help alleviate some of the side effects of chemotherapy. More importantly, it may help fuel and activate the body’s natural cancer preventative and suppression processes.
Selected References to Moringa and Cancer Prevention
Murakami A, Kitazono Y, Jiwajinda S, Koshimizu K, Ohigashi H. Niaziminin, a thiocarbamate from the leaves of Moringa oleifera, holds a strict structural requirement for inhibition of tumor-promoter-induced Epstein-Barr virus activation. Planta Med. 1998; 64:319–323
Guevara AP, Vargas C, Sakurai H, et al. An antitumor promoter from Moringa oleifera Lam. Mutat Res. 1999; 440:181–188.
Bharali R, Tabassum J, Azad MR. Chemomodulatory effect of Moringa oleifera, Lam, on hepatic carcinogen metabolising enzymes, antioxidant parameters and skin papillomagenesis in mice. Asian Pac J Cancer Prev. 2003; 4:131-9.
Fahey JW. Moringa oleifera: a review of the medical evidence for its nutritional, therapeutic, and prophylactic properties. Part 1. Trees for Life Journal. 2005;1:5.
Bose CK. Possible role of Moringa oleifera Lam. root in epithelial ovarian cancer. MedGenMed. 2007; 9:26.
Anwar F, Latif S, Ashraf M, Gilani AH. Moringa oleifera: a food plant with multiple medicinal uses. Phytother Res. 2007; 21:17-25.
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