Scientists in India have discovered that certain naturally-occurring plant chemicals, when used with anti-cancer drugs, can help lower the disease’s drug dosage, and minimise its side-effects.
“A combinatorial approach (using phytochemicals and anti-cancer drugs together) have the advantage of killing tumour cells more rapidly than conventional treatment, and allow use of lower drug concentrations, thereby reducing toxicity of the drug,” Madhumita Roy, head of the environmental carcinogenesis and toxicology department at Chittaranjan National Cancer Institute (CNCI) told HT.
However, the research findings were preliminary, she said. “Further clinical research needs to be carried out to prove the role of phytochemicals.”
Maintaining that phytochemicals in fruits and vegetables may reduce the risk of many diseases, including cancer, she said, “These compounds may prevent the formation of potential carcinogens, block the action of carcinogens on the target cells and suppress the development of cancer. Certain proteins are over-expressed in cancer cells; these are known as tumour markers. Phytochemicals target these proteins.”
Carcinogenesis, she said, is a multi-step process involving initiation, promotion and progression or metastasis.