“War on cancer” was declared through the National Cancer Act by President Richard Nixon in 1971, but cancer statistics from the American Cancer Society and other sources indicated the failure of this war, suggesting instead focus on the message that a “prevention strategy” might be much more effective than cancer treatment. While cancer statistics notoriously showed sharp increases in incidence as well as in mortality concurrent with economic growth in Asia, fortunately Asian countries benefit from plentiful resources of natural compounds, which can prevent cancer. Just like cancer chemotherapeutics targeted to kill cancer cells in Western countries, natural agents activating molecular mechanisms for cancer prevention, reversion of premalignant tumors, and even ablation of cancer stem cells, are very abundant in Asia. Currently, these natural agents are under very active investigations targeting the hallmarks of cancer prevention, including selective induction of apoptosis in cancer cells, suppression of growth factors or their signaling, suppression of cell proliferation and of cancer-promoting angiogenesis, induction of mesenchymal-epithelial transition, and disruption of the tumor microenvironment, developing promising cancer preventive agents. However, Asia is the most populous continent in the world and some Asian countries do not have the resources to implement cancer screening programs for early detection or treatment. In addition, despite the excellent cancer preventive screening strategies in some Asian countries, well-designed clinical trials for cancer prevention are somewhat delayed compared to Western countries. In this review article, several phytochemicals/phytoceuticals produced and studied in different Asian countries will be introduced, including Korean red ginseng (pride of Korea), curcumin (Indian spice for life), black or green tea (popular in Japan/Sri Lanka), genistein from tofu (famous Chinese food), diallylsulfide or S-allylcysteine (garlic, popularly consumed as a food ingredient in many Asian countries), capsaicin, 6-gingerol, flavopiridol, and silymarin (abundant in various Asian foods). Whereas in Western countries cancer chemotherapeutics involve strategies not only to block the growth of the primary tumor, but also to inhibit its progression to metastatic disease, the endless pursuit of effective agents for cancer prevention may be a unique and featured strategy in Asia. More active efforts for clinical application of these principles should be supported.
Park JM (1), Lee HJ (2), Yoo JH (3), Ko WJ (4), Cho JY (5), Hahm KB (6).
1 – CHA Cancer Prevention Research Center, CHA University, CHA Bio Complex, Seongnam, Republic of Korea. Electronic address: email@example.com.
2 – Laboratory of Cancer Prevention, Gachon University, Lee Gil Ya Cancer and Diabetes Institute, Gachon University, Incheon, Republic of Korea. Electronic address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
3 – CHA Cancer Prevention Research Center, CHA University, CHA Bio Complex, Seongnam, Republic of Korea. Electronic address: email@example.com.
4 – Digestive Disease Center, CHA University Bundang Medical Center, Seongnam, Republic of Korea. Electronic address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
5 – Digestive Disease Center, CHA University Bundang Medical Center, Seongnam, Republic of Korea. Electronic address: email@example.com.
6 – CHA Cancer Prevention Research Center, CHA University, CHA Bio Complex, Seongnam, Republic of Korea; Digestive Disease Center, CHA University Bundang Medical Center, Seongnam, Republic of Korea. Electronic address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Best Pract Res Clin Gastroenterol. 2015 Dec;29(6):855-67. doi: 10.1016/j.bpg.2015.09.008. Epub 2015 Sep 11.
PMID: 26651248 [PubMed]