A new study in the journal Nutrients suggests that micronutrients found in tea, red wine, and leafy greens may help prevent or even combat malignant mesothelioma.
Scientists in the University of Rome’s Department of Clinical Sciences and Translational Medicine evaluated more than 150 studies on the effects of polyphenols on cancer and other diseases.
They concluded that polyphenols like reveratrol (red wine), curcumin (turmeric), EGCG (green tea), and quercetin (blueberries, leafy greens) can boost immunity and mediate inflammation , potentially improving the odds of surviving mesothelioma.
Inflammation and Mesothelioma
Multiple studies have determined that one of the key factors in the development of mesothelioma is inflammation. When accidentally inhaled or ingested, asbestos fibers stay in the tissues, sometimes for decades, triggering an inflammatory response in the body that appears to play a role in mesothelioma development.
“A long-lasting inflammatory response orchestrated by mesothelial cells contributes to the initiation, promotion, and progression of mesothelial cells into malignant mesothelioma,” writes molecular biologist Monica Benvenuto, PhD, one of the authors of the new study.
But polyphenols target the cell signaling pathways responsible for producing those pro-inflammatory molecules. The results can be a significant reduction in mesothelioma-causing inflammation.
Boosting the Immune System
Another way that polyphenols might help to fight mesothelioma is by bolstering the immune system.
In people with mesothelioma, the immune system becomes deregulated, meaning that the body’s natural defenses are compromised. Polyphenols boost immune response and may help bring more natural killer cells to the site of a developing mesothelioma tumor.
Polyphenols have also been shown to possess pro-oxidant activity which the researchers say could be used against cancer.
“In the last few years, the use of ROS-[reactive oxygen species] generating agents against cancer is an emerging strategy to kill cancer cells, since it has been observed that ROS contribute to the cytotoxic activity of some chemotherapeutics and that cancer cells are more susceptible to ROS than normal cells.,” states the new report.
Cure Mesothelioma with Polyphenols?
Unfortunately for the estimated 3,000 Americans newly diagnosed with mesothelioma each year, improving the odds of survival isn’t as easy to drinking more red wine or eating more leafy greens.
Although eating a healthy diet full of polyphenols is an important part of staying healthy during cancer treatment, it may not be the most effective way to use these powerful molecules against mesothelioma. Instead, the Italian scientists say these compounds may work better if administered directly to the tumor site.
“The local administration of polyphenols in the serous cavity might be a better strategy to treat malignant mesothelioma, because in this way polyphenols could bypass biotransformation and could reach an effective dose directly available at the site of tumor,” writes Dr. Benvenuto.
Benvenuto, Monica, et al, “The Potential Protective Effects of Polyphenols in Asbestos-Mediated Inflammation and Carcinogenesis of Mesothelium”, May 9, 2016, Nutrients