Chemoprevention of cancer: Curcumin, statins, DFMO: pros & cons
Reducing cancer and other diseases’ risks with medications or dietary supplements is called chemo-prevention. Leading oncologist and cancer prevention expert shares ideas on pros and cons of cancer chemoprevention:
Let’s talk about chemo prevention of cancer and specifically using medications to lower risks of cancer or lower chances of cancer returning, if cancer had already been diagnosed and treated. Dr. Anton Titov, MD You did some important work on several chemo-preventive methods… Dr. Nadir Arber, MD We have several ways [of cancer chemoprevention] In my lab, we develop a mixtures of curcumin, green tea and selenium, and we put it in one tablet It’s also very effective, it’s very strong natural Cox-2 inhibitors to prevent cancers and to treat all kinds of inflammation But for this kind of research you need a lot of money, it’s difficult to achieve it in the framework of the academia. Everything we’ve discussed was done without the contribution and support from the medical industry. It was part of our academic work. We were able to pursue this very promising [cancer chemo-prevention method] and this is definitely something that should be explored more. Curcumin is certainly a very interesting substance, because it acts on NFKB and many other factors in the body and also can halt the progress of hematological cancers. In places like India where curcumin consumption is high, the rates of colorectal cancer is lower. Of course there are more factors involved [in lower colon cancer incidence in India] but this is this a very fascinating! Curcumin is fascinating… Yes and we showed that curcumin has a synergistic effects when you combine it with green tea and selenium. We wrote a patent on it. It has a synergistic amazing effect – working on NFKB, COX-2 – very promising [for colorectal cancer prevention] And no side effects! If we continue discussing chemo-prevention of cancer using medicinal substances – for reducing the risk of cancers, one compound is DFMO, which is Di-Fluoro-Methyl-Ornithine. What is DFMO? How can DFMO lower risks or certain cancers? What is the potential mechanism? This was a good study – because what I like about this study is that it used combination therapy [to prevent cancers] I strongly believe in combination therapy [to prevent and treat cancer], it is the way to go in medicine. Now everything is combination [therapy] because this strategy you can lower the concentrations of the drugs, you can minimize toxicity and increase efficacy. I don’t think DFMO is potentially good for inhibiting cancer growth but also DFMO is not that practical – this was kind of buried inside the article – there could be a lot of hearing loss with DFMO use. When you are looking for chemo- preventative medications you have to look for five major criteria: drug has to be given by mouth At most drug is given once a day, not more often than that, Drug should be effective and Drug should have low toxicity, and Drug should be cheap. An example is a contraception pill for preventing pregnancy – you need something like that. DFMO was not that cheap, the profile of DFMO side effects, especially about hearing loss and ototoxicity is quite toxic, it did not fulfill all criteria. When we are looking for chemoprevention, this is the criteria that we should look for the drug to fulfill – then it could achieve worldwide compliance Statins are clearly used with great efficacy to reduce risks of cardiovascular disease, but it was known, it was noticed in several studies that statins can reduce risks of various cancers, including gastrointestinal cancers. Dr. Nadir Arber, MD In some studies the evidence was quite clear, in other studies was not. What do you think about the use of statins in reducing risks of cancer? Dr. Anton Titov, MD Statins might be another “magic bullet” of the century. But still – just in preventing heart disease. For preventing cancer the data on statins is not sufficient. It’s not good enough that we can advocate statins for this indications – only for preventing cancer It’s true that there is some common risk factors for ischemic heart disease and cancer – like obesity, sedentary lifestyle, hyperlipidemia – but just for prevention of colon cancer I cannot advocate statins.