Cancer can strike people in the prime of their life during their most productive years. This creates a big impact on the economy and the workforce of a nation.
Cancer is the second leading cause of mortality in the Philippines, next to cardiovascular diseases. The sad part is most cancer patients seek consultation only at advanced stages. Another problem is that cancer survival rates are relatively low, and the costs are prohibitive for many of those afflicted.
At present there are various strategies being studied in order to prevent cancer and its spread. The idea of inhibiting the blood supply to cancer cells is of particular interest to cancer researchers. Targeting the blood supply will inhibit blood flow to the tumor and inhibit its growth.
The growth of new blood vessels, called angiogenesis, is now widely believed to be a necessary event for the development of cancer. Therefore, drugs that can block tumor angiogenesis will be effective against a wide range of cancers. Angiogenesis is a highly regulated process, and inhibitors of angiogenesis are predicted to be better tolerated than conventional cancer therapies that affect all rapidly growing cells. This would result in a decrease in treatment-associated side effects.
Angiogenesis is the hallmark of many proliferative disorders other than cancer, including psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetic retinopathy, and age-related macular degeneration. Thus, this mode of treatment could be effective for non-cancer diseases as well.
A group of drugs called Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF) inhibitors are now available. VEGF is the most prominent inducer of angiogenesis. VEGFs such as bevacizumab, are now available, but the therapy is not applicable to all types of cancers and patients. More research is now underway to determine ways to identify those who would benefit from VEGF inhibitors.
So don’t lose hope! Today’s researchers are working hard to find a cure for cancer. As of now, the best way to beat cancer is through prevention by doing the following:
1. Take phytochemical-rich foods. Fruits, vegetables, dark chocolates, and even red wine (in moderation) are beneficial for cancer prevention. Research on animals published in the “Journal of Biological Chemistry” suggests that phytochemicals can have beneficial effects on prevention and treatment of leukemia, skin and breast cancers. This is because these phytochemicals have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Inflammation is said to be one of the triggers for tumor growth.
2. Supplement with selenium. Whereas antioxidants work to minimize and repair the damage of free radicals on individual cells, the mineral selenium has been shown to reduce the production of free radicals. The recommended dose of selenium is 200 micrograms a day.
3. Get enough exercise. Physical activity helps prevent cancer. Research shows that exercise helps the body regulate blood sugar, insulin levels, and the production of sex hormones. Regular exercise also promotes a healthy immune system, and is recommended even for those already diagnosed with cancer.
- VEGF Inhibition Market Reviewed in New Report Now Available at… (biotechblog.com)
- Scientists identify a key molecule that blocks abnormal blood vessel growth in tumors (eurekalert.org)