Nutrients that help prevent oral cancer

Among the risk factors related to oral cancer, diet has been shown to play a very important role. Several epidemiological studies have shown that there is a relationship between the consumption of certain foods and the risk of oral cancer. Although the mechanisms of action and the relative roles of the different micronutrients are not entirely clear, some studies are beginning to show that some foods and habits have a protective role against the appearance and recurrence of oral cancer, as well as a better response to chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatments. In this article we will talk about some of them.

Green tea. In a previous article in this blog, we already talked about the preventive power of green tea in the development of periodontal diseases. This nutrient is rich in polyphenols, specifically catechins, which have a great antioxidant capacity and have been studied as a potential treatment for various malignant tumors, including oral cancer.

Resveratrol. This micro-nutrient is a phytoalexin naturally present in grapes, peanuts and blackberries. This substance has been well known since the 1990s for its cardioprotective effects. Currently, in vitro and in vivo (in animal models) studies have also shown that resveratrol has the ability to modulate cell division signals, growth, apoptosis, inflammation, angiogenesis and metastasis involved in oral cancer.

Turmeric. It is one of the components of curry, a very popular spice in Indian and spicy cuisine. It is a nutrient that has been traditionally used in oriental medicine to treat various diseases. Epidemiologically, a relationship has been observed between the use of turmeric and a low incidence of cancers of the gastro-intestinal tract in Southeast Asian countries. Several studies have confirmed that turmeric has the ability to control some mechanisms involved in carcinogenesis. The problem with this spice is its low absorption by our body, its use combined with pepper favors such absorption.

Vitamin-D. Some studies have shown that vitamin D (calcitriol) induces tumor cells to apoptosis (programmed cell death). Therefore, optimal levels of this vitamin may help in the prevention of the disease. It has also been observed in studies that vitamin D applied systemically or locally, helps to sensitize cells to radiotherapy and chemotherapy, so treatments will be more effective.

Bibliography of interest:

Grimm M, Cetindis M, Biegner T, Lechman M, Munz A, Triete P, REinert S. Serum vitamin D levels of patiens with oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) and expression of vitamin D receptor in oral precancerous lesions and OSCC. Med Oral Patol Oral Cir Bucal. 2015 Mar 1;20:188-95.
Zlotogorski A, Dayan A, Dayan D, Chaushu G, Tuula S, Vered M. Nutraceuticals as new treatment approaches for oral cancer I: Curcumin. Oral Oncology. 2013;49:187-191.
Zlotogorski A, Dayan A, Dayan D, Chaushu G, Tuula S, Vered M. Nutraceuticals as new treatment approaches for oral cancer II: Green tea estracts and resveratrol.  Oral Oncology. 2013;49:502-506.

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