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Thursday, May 11, 2006

Organics Fight GI Cancer

The optimal way to treat a disease is to cut it off at the pass. And a recent journal article in Basic and Clinical Pharmacology and Toxicology (everyone’s favorite light bathroom reading) discusses just that: chemoprevention in gastrointestinal cancers.

Chemoprevention is a fancy way of saying, “Let’s get it before it gets us.” This relatively new field seeks to identify natural or synthetic substances that reduce the risk of developing cancer.

This particular study showed that Aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (a-k-a NSAIDS), and calcium demonstrated the most significant reductions of risk for colorectal neoplasia.

NSAIDs also consistently appeared to protect against esophageal and gastric cancer, according to study lead Maria V. Grau and her colleagues at Dartmouth Medical School. Grau also cited vitamin D as a promising intervention agent, among others.

This is evidence that simple supplements, coupled with healthy eating, can decrease your risk of GI-related cancers. Now, I’m not an advocate of over-the-counter self-medications. But acetylsalicylic acid, sold since 1899 under the Bayer trademark of ‘Aspirin’—has organic origins.

It was first used as a bitter powder extracted from willow bark and, later, other plants. Bayer developed a chemical process that made the powder’s active ingredient—salicin—tolerable to the stomach.

And certainly calcium and vitamin D aren’t high-falutin’ pharmaceuticals. Rather, they’re organic compounds found in balanced diets, natural supplements, and—if you’re following the advice on this blog—in your refrigerator.

Certainly even the healthiest diet is not a guarantee against GI cancers. But if this study is to be believed, a healthy diet coupled with judicious use of nutritional supplements can make a difference, and better your odds.

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