Turmeric, garlic, others offer protection against aflatoxin 'damage', breast cancer

Source of Article: http://www.ngrguardiannews.com/natural_health/article01/indexn2_html?pdate=230709&ptitle=Turmeric,%20garlic,%20others%20offer%20protection%20against%20aflatoxin%20'damage',%20breast%20cancer

Researchers have demonstrated a regular diet including spices such as turmeric, garlic, ginger, cabbage, onion, green tea and apiaceous vegetables like carrots reverses damage caused by aflatoxin (produced by a fungus) poisoning and its complications; as well as reduce breast cancer risk in women exposed to hormone replacement therapy. CHUKWUMA MUANYA reports.

IN recent times there have been several reports of food poisoning with aflatoxins that led to the death of many, and hospitalization of others. Three weeks ago, it was widely reported that a family of six all died after eating a meal of amala (probably contaminated with aflatoxins).

Aflatoxins, are naturally occurring mycotoxins that are produced by many species of Aspergillus, a fungus/mould, most notably Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus parasiticus.

Amˆlˆ is a thick brown paste or porridge made from yam skin, which had been peeled, cleaned, dried and then blended. It is eaten in West Africa, primarily among the Yorbs of Nigeria.

Recent medical researches indicate that a regular diet including spices such as garlic and turmeric, and apiaceous vegetables such as carrots, parsnips, celery and parsley reduces the carcinogenic effects of aflatoxin, and breast cancer risk in women exposed to hormone replacement therapy.

Previous studies have found that postmenopausal women who have taken a combined estrogen and progestin hormone replacement therapy have increased their risk of developing progestin-accelerated breast tumors.

A Consultant Mycologist at the Department of Botany University of Lagos, Akoka, Dr. Dotun Adekunle described aflatoxins as toxic and among the most carcinogenic substances known.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) Food Safety Newsletter, "Exposure to mycotoxins can produce both acute and chronic toxicities ranging from death to deleterious effects on the central nervous, cardiovascular, pulmonary and digestive systems. Mycotoxins may also be carcinogenic (cancer-causing), mutagenic (a mutagenic agent is one which is capable of causing mutations.

"It may also, but does not necessarily, act as a carcinogen (cancer-causing), teratogenic (able to disturb the growth and development of an embryo or foetus) and immuno-suppresive (suppresses the immune system). It also has a synergistic effect with the hepatitis B virus in the etiology of liver cancer and could interact with Human Immuno-deficiency Virus (HIV)/Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS).

"Epidemiological studies have shown a strong correlation between exposure to aflatoxins and primary liver cancer. Aflatoxin exposure in children is also associated with child stunting and child neurological impairment."

A neurological impairment or disability may affect an individual's speech, motor skills, vision, memory, muscle actions and learning abilities.

Indeed, spices have been shown to protect the liver against aflatoxin poisoning, and the breast from cancer. India researchers found that food additives such as turmeric, and active ingredient curcumin (diferuloyl methane), asafoetida (flavouring agent), butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA), butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) and ellagic acid inhibited the mutagenesis induced by aflatoxin B1 (AFB1) (0.5 ?g/plate) in Salmonella tester strains TA 98 and TA 100.

Also, University of Missouri, United States, researchers have found that curcumin, a popular Indian spice derived from the turmeric root, could reduce the cancer risk for women after exposure to hormone replacement therapy.

Turmeric is a spice that comes from the root of Curcuma longa, a member of the ginger family, Zingaberaceae. In traditional medicine, turmeric has been used for its medicinal properties for various indications and through different routes of administration, including topically, orally, and by inhalation.

In Nigeria, it is called atale pupa in Yoruba; gangamau in Hausa; nwandumo in Ebonyi; ohu boboch in Enugu (Nkanu East); gigir in Tiv; magina in Kaduna; turi in Niger State; onjonigho in Cross River (Meo tribe).

Turmeric, also known as curcuma, produces a root that is used to produce the vibrant yellow spice used as a culinary spice so often used in curry dishes.

Previous studies indicate that the Asian spice cultivated in Nigeria and found in many curries, has a long history of use in reducing inflammation, healing wounds and relieving pain, preventing diabetes and heart failure, and inducing weight loss.

It is exciting to note that there are suppliers of high curcumin content, organically certified turmeric here in Nigeria, produced in Ogun State. Eurobridge Industries Ltd have one of the largest plantations in West Africa for rich, golden pure turmeric,_ and offer it conveniently packaged in 100gm sealed bags, available at 3, Balogun street, Oregun industrial Estate, Ikeja, Lagos (daradarang@yahoo.co.uk), and at many leading supermarkets and stores.

One of turmeric's components is curcumin, a type of phytochemical known as a polyphenol. Research findings suggest that phytochemicals, which are the chemicals found in plants, appear to help prevent disease. As the bioactive component of turmeric, curcumin is readily absorbed for use by the body.

The study titled "Protective effect of food additives on aflatoxin-induced mutagenicity and hepatocarcinogenicity", was published in Cancer Letters by K. B. Soni and R. Kuttan of Amala Cancer Research Centre, Amala Naga, Trichur, Kerala State, India; and M. Lahiri, P. Chackradeo, and S. V. Bhide of Tata Memorial Centre, Bombay, India.

According to the study, turmeric and curcumin, which were the most active, inhibited mutation frequency by more than 80 per cent at concentrations of 2g/plate. Other food additives were also significantly effective. Dietary administration of turmeric (0.05 per cent), garlic (0.25 per cent), curcumin and ellagic acid (0.005 per cent each) to rats significantly reduced the number of gammaglutamyl transpeptidase-positive foci induced by AFB1, which is considered as the precursor of hepatocellular neoplasm.

The researchers concluded: "These results indicate the usefulness of antioxidant food additives in ameliorating aflatoxin-induced mutagenicity and carcinogenicity."

Salman Hyder, the Zalk Endowed Professorship in Tumor Angiogenesis and professor of biomedical sciences in the College of Veterinary Medicine and the Dalton Cardiovascular Research Center, United States, said: "This exposure to progestin will predispose a large number of post-menopausal women to future development of breast cancer. The results of our study show that women could potentially take curcumin to protect themselves from developing progestin-accelerated tumors."

In the study, researchers found that curcumin delayed the first appearance, decreased incidence and reduced multiplicity of progestin-accelerated tumors in an animal model. Curcumin also prevented the appearance of gross morphological abnormalities in the mammary glands.

In previous studies, Massachusset University (MU) researchers showed that progestin accelerated the development of certain tumors by increasing production of a molecule called VEGF that helps supply blood to the tumor. By blocking the production of VEGF, researchers could potentially reduce the proliferation of breast cancer cells. Curcumin inhibits progestin-induced VEGF secretion from breast cancer cells, Hyder said.

"Curcumin and other potential anti-angiogenic compounds should be tested further as dietary chemopreventive agents in women already exposed to hormone replacement therapy containing estrogen and progestin in an effort to decrease or delay the risk of breast cancer associated with combined hormone replacement therapy," Hyder said.

Researchers have demonstrated the preventive action of garlic on aflatoxin B1-induced carcinogenesis in the toad Bufo regularis.

Egyptian scientists at the Department of Zoology, Faculty of Science, Alexandria University have studied the action of fresh minced garlic and garlic oil on aflatoxin B1- (AFB1) induced carcinogenesis in the toad Bufo regularis.

According to the study published in Nutrition Cancer by Mofty M. M., Sakr S. A., Essawy A., Abdel Gawad H. S., feeding toads with AFB1 induced tumors in 19 per cent of the animals. Animals given AFB1 together with fresh garlic or garlic oil showed a significant reduction in tumor incidence.

The tumor incidences were three per cent and nine per cent in animals given AFB1 plus garlic and AFB1 plus garlic oil, respectively. In all three groups, the tumors were located in the liver (hepatocellular carcinomas), in addition to the kidney in animals treated with AFB1 alone and together with garlic.

The kidney tumors were diagnosed as metastatic deposits from the primary liver tumors. It is speculated that one or more constituents of garlic may be responsible for inhibition of AFB1-induced carcinogenesis in B. regularis.

Researchers have also studied the antioxidants and radical scavenging properties of vegetable extracts in rats fed Aflatoxin-contaminated diet.

The study published in Journal of Agricultural Food and Chemistry evaluated the protection role of garlic, cabbage, and onion extracts against the toxic effects of aflatoxin.

According to the study by Mosaad A. Abdel-Wahhab and Soher E. Aly of the Department of Food Toxicology and Contaminants, National Research Center, Dokki, Cairo, Egypt, 120 mature male Sprague?Dawley rats were randomly assigned to eight experimental groups and treated for 15 days with extracts with or without aflatoxin. Blood samples were collected from all animals from the retro-orbital venous plexus at the end of the experimentation period for biochemical analysis. Livers and kidneys were removed at the end of the treatment period for determination of glutathione, malondialdehyde, and superoxide dismutase.

The results indicated that animals treated with aflatoxin showed significant signs of aflatoxicosis. Extracts alone had insignificant effects on all parameters tested, whereas co-treatment with aflatoxin and extracts resulted in a significant improvement in all parameters; moreover, garlic extract was found to be the most effective in the prevention of aflatoxin-induced toxicity and free radical generation in rats.

The Johns Hopkins University researchers have tested the effectiveness of chlorophyllin, a derivative of chlorophyll that is used as an over-the-counter dietary supplement and food colorant, in reducing the risk of liver cancer in aflatoxin-exposed individuals. Studies conducted in Qidong, People's Republic of China, showed that consumption of chlorophyllin at each meal resulted in a 55 per cent reduction in the urinary levels of aflatoxin-related DNA adducts.

The researchers believe that chlorophyllin reduces aflatoxin levels by blocking the absorption of the compound into the gastrointestinal tract. The results suggest that taking chlorophyllin, or eating green vegetables that are rich in chlorophyllin, may be a practical and cost-effective way of reducing liver cancers in areas where aflatoxin exposures are high.



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