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THIS Spice Cut Cancer in Mice by 56%

In a very encouraging result, a study found that whole ginger extract can reduce the spread of cancer and cut down the growth of tumors by more than 50% in mice. This study further validates other studies that have demonstrated the anticancer benefits of ginger in humans and animal models. This article discusses this latest study and also how ginger can indeed reduce the risk of and help stop cancer.
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Ginger, the Medicinal Spice

Ginger or Zingiber officinale is both a spice and an herb. The root or rhizome is the part of the plant used for culinary and medicinal purposes.

Young ginger rhizome is fleshy and succulent. It can be eaten raw, cooked as food or boiled to make herbal tea. Matured ginger rhizome, on the hand, is dry and fibrous. It is used as spice in different dishes and for flavoring foods.

Preliminary research into the therapeutic benefits of ginger suggests that the herb has diverse medicinal uses and confirms its efficacy for most of the diseases it is used to treat in Asian and African traditional medical practices.

Confirmed Medicinal Properties of Ginger
  • Antioxidant protection through the inhibition of lipid peroxidation and free radicals
  • Anti-inflammatory action via the inhibition of prostaglandins
  • Analgesic activity especially the reduction of muscle and arthritis pain
  • Antibacterial, antipyretic and sedative properties
  • Increasing gastric motility

The FDA classifies ginger as “generally recognized as safe”. It is a well-tolerated herb although it can cause mild side effects such as nausea, heartburn, gas, bloating and belching especially when the powdered root is taken.

In addition, some people experience allergic reactions to ginger in the form of rashes.

Taking more than 2 g/kg of body weight of ginger can result in acute overdose. This causes the overstimulation of the central nervous system and a condition referred to as “ginger jitters”

Ginger is contraindicated for people suffering from gallstones and it should not be combined with certain medications including warfarin.

The Bioactive Phytochemicals in Ginger

As food, ginger is a good source of dietary fiber, protein, vitamins A and C as well as phosphorus and potassium. However, ginger is more prized for its medicinal uses than its nutritional benefits.

There are 3 major classes of active phytochemicals in ginger. These include zingerone, shogaols and gingerols; and they are all volatile oils.

Zingerone contributes a little to the aroma of ginger and it is used as a spicy aroma in the perfumery industry. However, fresh ginger contains no zingerone. Instead, the compound is made from gingerols during cooking.

Zingerone has an antibacterial property and is believed to be responsible for the efficacy of ginger in the treatment of bacteria-induced diarrhea.

The shogaols are also formed from gingerols due to dehydration during the storage of fresh ginger. Like gingerols, shogaols are also responsible for the pungent aroma of ginger.

Gingerols are the primary phytochemicals in fresh ginger. They are not as pungent as shogaol and but are responsible for most of the therapeutic benefits of ginger.

Gingerol is the ginger phytochemical responsible for relieving nausea and migraine. It has also been shown to be useful in the treatment of arthritic pain and for reducing high body temperature during high fevers.

In addition, gingerol is currently a drug candidate in different cancer studies and early results have been positive.

The Cancer Study

The most recent study to confirm the anticancer benefits of ginger is also the one with the most dramatic results.

In a paper published in The British Journal of Nutrition in February, 2012, a group of researchers from Georgia State University tested the efficacy of whole ginger extract on prostate cancer cells in a group of mice.

Some of the mice were given daily doses of 100 mg/kg of the ginger extract while the others received a placebo. By measuring the volume of the prostate tumor and other measures of cancer growth such as proliferation index and immune reaction to the tumor, the researchers were able to determine the effect of the ginger extract compared to the placebo.

The results of the study showed that whole ginger extract reduced prostate tumor by 56% in these mice.

In addition, the tumor taken from the mice in the ginger group showed lower proliferation index and higher rates of apoptosis (cell death) compared to the control mice who only got placebo.

Even though this positive result is remarkable on its own, the researchers even discovered an equally great benefit of the anticancer effect of ginger extract: while ginger inhibits the proliferation of prostate cancer cells, it did not affect the rapid growth of the cells of the gut and bone marrow (two sites where rapid cellular growth is needed).

This 2012 study not only demonstrated the in vivo and in vitro anticancer activity of whole ginger extract, it also demonstrated its specificity and safety. All of these benefits make ginger an excellent natural remedy for treating prostate cancer.

The next stage in the research into the anticancer benefits of ginger is to replicate these results in humans.

Already, human trials have been done on the benefits of ginger in the treatment of colon cancer. A Phase II study conducted in 2011 showed that ginger root extract significantly reduced the markers of colon inflammation after 28 days. This trial highlighted the potential of ginger as a natural agent for preventing colon cancer.

Ginger and Prostate Problems

Prostate problems are quite common in men older than 50 years.

As men age, the prostate gland increases in size because it experiences accelerating cellular growth. This happens for a number of reasons but the 2 most important ones are increased stimulation of the prostate by androgen hormones and reduced sensitivity to proteins that regulate cell growth cycle.

There are 3 main types of prostate problems. These are:

  • Prostatitis or an inflammation of the prostate tissue
  • Benign prostatic hyperplasia or prostate enlargement
  • Prostate cancer

Ginger is an excellent natural remedy for prostate problems. For example, its anti-inflammatory effect can help prevent and/or treat prostatitis.

Furthermore, its antioxidant effect can help reduce the oxidative stress that predisposes the prostate to runaway cell growths responsible for prostate enlargement and prostate cancer.

Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer affecting men. It may require invasive surgical procedures to remove, and even then, it still kills more men than all types of cancers except lung cancer. Therefore, lowering the risk of prostate cancer is important as men grow older.

Ginger can reduce the risk of prostate cancer and even help shrink tumors in the prostate. Quite a number of studies have been done to determine how ginger affects human prostate cancer cells. These studies conclude that ginger works by the mechanisms listed in the table below.

How Ginger Stops Cancer
  • Disrupt the growth cycle of cancer cells
  • Impair the proliferation of cancer cells
  • Control the compounds naturally produced in the body to trigger cell death or apoptosis
  • Kill off cancer cells by cutting off energy production in the cells’ mitochondria and stimulating the release of caspase, a group of proteolytic enzymes that break down cancer cells

With these anticancer benefits, experts advise that the adoption of ginger into the diet especially for elderly men. Alternatively, ginger extract supplements are also recommended for reducing the risk of prostate cancer.

Ginger should not be used alone in the treatment or prevention of prostate cancer. Rather, it should be combined with other natural remedies for prostate problems. These remedies include saw palmetto, pygeum, stinging nettle, vitamins D and K as well as soy isoflavones, lycopene and selenium.

Given that there are a good number of these natural remedies, it is best to choose a prostate supplement that packs the most important ones.

There are a number of such supplements available in the market and one good example is Avistate which contains most of the remedies mentioned above.

Sources


http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21849094

http://www.uofmhealth.org/news/ginger-cancer-1011

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/10/11/this-common-cooking-spice-dramatically-shrinks-prostate-tumors-in-mice.aspx

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