Ginger and cancer, and other health benefits

Ginger and cancer, and other health benefits

Ginger (Zingiber officinale) is a well-known rhizome that is a spice, food and herbal medicine; an antioxidant, with anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory benefits, there are also several studies showing plasma glucose and cholesterol lowering and anti-cancer benefits.   

The many benefits of ginger 

     * Ginger is known to reduce nausea – for example chewing a slice of raw ginger can reduce chemo-induced nausea 

     * Ginger can reduce chronic inflammation in the body. Researchers at the University of Miami reported that it was up to 40 times more effective than NSAID arthritis drugs (8). Active ingredients called gingerols inhibit inflammatory COX-2 action all over the body. Colmbia University researchers conducted a study which found a strong effect against conditions of asthma and allergy.

     * Ginger can be used for pain relief in cases of osteoarthritis. One study said that it worked as well as Ibuprofen. 

     * Ginger has also been found to activate the immune system’s T-cells.

     * Ginger stimulates the circulation and is a natural blood thinner

     * Ginger lowers blood cholesterol and triglycerides by a third and inhibits development of atherosclerosis in a double blind clinical trial (11)

     * Ginger reduces plasma glucose levels (10)

     * Ginger can reduce the size of cancer tumours, and causes apoptosis of both normal cancer cells and cancer stem cells.

Active Ingredients of ginger

Ginger has good levels of magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, calcium and beta-carotene plus vitamins such as vitamin A, B, C, and E.

Ginger contains a number of biologically active ingredients including oleoresin and terpenes, the components of which include the phenols like gingerol and shogaol.

Gingerol and its various derivatives have been identified and synthesised from ginger in recent years and are extremely potent. One important class of derivatives are shogaols that are primarily the dehydrated products of gingerols and are found exclusively in dried ginger.

The many benefits of ginger with cancer

One study (November 2003, Radiation Research) concluded that five days of treatment with ginger (10 mg per kilogram of body weight) prior to exposure to radiation (including radiotherapy) lessened the depletion of antioxidant glutathione levels in the body, while preventing an increase in free radical damage to lipids (essential to membranes and brain tissue).

A study from the Department of Biology at Georgia State University showed 8 weeks of ginger consumption could reduce prostate tumour size in rats by 50%.

Among the shogaols, 6-shogaol has achieved a great deal of attention in research due to its potent anticancer activity.

   • Gastric cancer: It has been shown to induce mitotic arrest and reduce viability of cancer cells (1).
   • Colorectal cancer: It causes aberrant mitosis followed by apoptosis has in HCT-116 colon cancer cells (2).
   • Liver cancer: 6-shogaol induces apoptosis via oxidative stress pathway in a caspase-dependent mechanism in human hepatoma p53 mutant Mahlavu sublines (3).
   • Prostate cancer: Ginger inhibits 5-LO enzymes essential for prostate cell growth (9).
   • Breast Cancer: In another study, 6-shogaol has been reported to exhibit anti-invasive effects in cancer cells by reducing MMP-9 expression through NF-κB activation (5).

   • It has also been shown to induce autophagy in HNSCLC A-549 cells via inhibition of the AKT/mTOR pathway (4).
   • In 2013, PPAR-γ dependent apoptosis in MCF-7 and HT-29 cells by 6-shogaol has also been reported (6).
   • The blood supply tubules to cancer tumours are a possible target of 6-shogaol as it interacts with the sulphydryl groups of cysteines in tubulin through its side chain containing the α, β unsaturated carbonyl entity (7).

Ginger effective against breast cancer and cancer stem cells 

A 2015 study (Anasuya Ray, Smreti Vasudevan, Suparna Sengupta,) looked at inhibitory activity of this ginger-derived compound 6-shogaol against breast cancer cells both the normal and the stem cell versions. Cancer Stem Cells (CSCs) are the troublesome cells at the heart of cancers that re-grow after tumours are knocked-back by chemotherapy. No drugs currently exist in 2016 that can kill CSCs.

Research concluded, ‘6-shogaol was effective in killing both breast cancer monolayer cells (normal) and spheroids (CSCs) at doses that were not toxic to non-cancerous cells. The percentages of CD44+CD24-/low cells and the secondary sphere content were reduced drastically upon treatment with 6-shogaol confirming its action on CSCs. Treatment with 6-shogaol caused cytoplasmic vacuole formation and cleavage of microtubule associated protein Light Chain3 (LC3) in both monolayer and spheroid culture indicating that it induced autophagy.

Autophagy is the major mode of cell death induced by 6-shogaol in breast cancer cells. The efficacy of 6-shogaol in both forms of breast cancer cells raises hope for its therapeutic benefit in breast cancer treatment’.

Interestingly the chemo drug, Taxol, did not show any activity against the CSCs even at 10,000 times higher concentration!

Go to: A natural compound to reduce metastases and kill cancer cells

   1. Ishiguro K, Ando T, Maeda O, Ohmiya N, Niwa Y, Kadomatsu K, et al. (2007) Ginger ingredients reduce viability of gastric cancer cells via distinct mechanisms. Biochem Biophys Res Commun 362: 218–223. pmid:17706603 doi: 10.1016/j.bbrc.2007.08.012

   2. Gan FF, Nagle AA, Ang X, Ho OH, Tan SH, Yang H, et al. (2011) Shogaols at proapoptotic concentrations induce G(2)/M arrest and aberrant mitotic cell death associated with tubulin aggregation. Apoptosis 16: 856–867. doi: 10.1007/s10495-011-0611-3. pmid:21598039

   3. Chen CY, Liu TZ, Liu YW, Tseng WC, Liu RH, Lu FJ, et al. (2007) 6-shogaol (alkanone from ginger) induces apoptotic cell death of human hepatoma p53 mutant Mahlavu subline via an oxidative stress-mediated caspase-dependent mechanism. J Agric Food Chem 55: 948–954. pmid:17263498 doi: 10.1021/jf0624594

   4. Hung JY, Hsu YL, Li CT, Ko YC, Ni WC, Huang MS, et al. (2009) 6-Shogaol, an active constituent of dietary ginger, induces autophagy by inhibiting the AKT/mTOR pathway in human non-small cell lung cancer A549 cells. J Agric Food Chem 57: 9809–9816. doi: 10.1021/jf902315e. pmid:19799425

   5. Ling H, Yang H, Tan SH, Chui WK, Chew EH (2010) 6-Shogaol, an active constituent of ginger, inhibits breast cancer cell invasion by reducing matrix metalloproteinase-9 expression via blockade of nuclear factor-kappaB activation. Br J Pharmacol 161: 1763–1777. doi: 10.1111/j.1476-5381.2010.00991.x. pmid:20718733

   6. Tan BS, Kang O, Mai CW, Tiong KH, Khoo AS, Pichika MR, et al. (2013) 6-Shogaol inhibits breast and colon cancer cell proliferation through activation of peroxisomal proliferator activated receptor gamma (PPARgamma). Cancer Lett 336: 127–139. doi: 10.1016/j.canlet.2013.04.014. pmid:23612072

   7. Ishiguro K, Ando T, Watanabe O, Goto H (2008) Specific reaction of alpha,beta-unsaturated carbonyl compounds such as 6-shogaol with sulfhydryl groups in tubulin leading to microtubule damage. FEBS Lett 582: 3531–3536. doi: 10.1016/j.febslet.2008.09.027. pmid:18805415

   8.  Altman, R. D. and Marcussen, K. C. (2001), Effects of a ginger extract on knee pain in patients with osteoarthritis. Arthritis & Rheumatism, 44: 2531–2538. doi: 10.1002/1529-0131(200111)44:11<2531::AID-ART433>3.0.CO;2-J

   9.    /cancer-active-page-link.aspx?n=3377&Title=GINGER%20and%20cancer



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