The Bold Voice of J&K

Consume Anaar and Ber to prevent Cancer

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Dr. Vikas Sharma

Cancer is a deadly disease, responsible for 2-3 per cent deaths worldwide annually. The mortality rate among men and women in India is almost the same as 3.56 lakh men died of cancer in 2012, the corresponding number for women was 3.26 lakh and against 4.77 lakh men, 5.37 lakh women were diagnosed with cancer in India in 2012. The estimation of 1.1 million new cancer cases, indicates India as a single country (of 184 total) contributing to 7.8 per cent of the global cancer burden. Mortality figures were 6,82,830 contributing to 8.33 per cent of global cancer deaths. The cancer cases are on rise in Jammu and Kashmir with lung cancer becoming most prominent due to smoking. There is an increase in the number of cancer patients in the State from last five years with Srinagar at top in year 2015. According to official figures, 4,556 cases of cancer were reported in 2011, 4,848 in 2012, 5,068 in 2013, 5568 in 2014 and 6358 in 2015. The summer capital Srinagar tops the number with 898 cancer patients in 2015 while the number stands at 853 in Jammu. The lowest number of cases has been recorded in Leh and Kargil districts of the Ladakh region where it stands at 62. In year 2015, 265 cases of cancer were reported from Kathua, 205 in Rajouri, 172 in Ramban, 169 in Samba, 139 in Doda, 126 in Poonch, 118 in Udhampur, 117 in Reasi, 113 in Kishtwar. Further, 573 cases of cancer were reported from Baramulla, 489 in Anantanag, 452 in Budgam, 451 in Pulwama, 283 in Ganderbal, 273 in Kupwara, 263 in Kulgam, 169 in Shopian and 168 in Bandipora. In males, the cancers which have been found to be predominant include lung, throat, gastro-internal cancer and lymphoma while in females cervical, breast, throat, gastro-internal and lung cancer have been predominant. Billions of dollars have been spent on cancer research and yet we do not understand exactly what cancer is? Cancer has remained a major cause of death and the number of individuals living with cancer is continuing to expand, but most of the drugs used in cancer chemotherapy exhibit cell toxicity and can induce genotoxic, carcinogenic and teratogenic effects in non tumor cells. Despite the recent advances in surgery, endocrine therapy, radiotherapy and chemotherapy, it is considered that the management of cancer is still not up to the mark and we are in emergent need of drugs for the treatment of cancer having no side effects.
There is strong, consistent evidence that high intake of fruits protect against various cancers especially cancers of respiratory and digestive tracts. These protective effects of high fruit consumption are attributed to the active micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) and non-nutritive components (phytochemicals) that exhibit a potential for modulating human metabolism in a manner favorable for the prevention of cancer. In other words, we can say that fruits consumed in our daily diet could be a solution to this deadly disease by providing chemoprotective and chemotherapeutic remedy. Regular consumption of fruits is associated with reduced risk of cancers and additive/ synergistic effects of phytochemicals in fruits are responsible for their potent antioxidant / anticancer activities. Natural products from some fruits offer new sources of drugs, but there are still a number of fruits in which all the active constituents have not yet been investigated. Therefore, efforts are still being made for the search of effective naturally occurring anticarcinogens that would prevent, slow or reverse cancer development. The Jammu Division has great botanical diversity, but minor fruits of kandi belt have not been subjected to accepted scientific evaluation for their potential anticancer effects. The research is going on in the Division of Biochemistry, SKUAST-Jammu in collaboration with Indian Institute of Integrative Medicine (IIIM-CSIR), Jammu to find out the minor fruits of Jammu subtropics that possess anticancer potential and can further be used for the management of cancer.
Punica granatum is a native of Iran and is considered as one of the oldest known edible fruit that is mentioned in the Koran, the Bible, the Jewish Torah and the Babylonian Talmud as ‘Food of Gods’ that is symbolic of plentyness, fertility and prosperity. Anaar is featured virtually in all major religions and has been used for centuries as a folk medicine for the management and treatment of diverse ailments. Pomegranate fruit is a rich source of two types of polyphenolic compounds: anthocyanins and hydrolyzable tannins, which account for 92 per cent of the antioxidant activity of the whole fruit. In the present investigation, the fruit of pomegranate was observed to be most cytotoxic to four human cancer cells derived from four different tissues and the growth inhibition range was between 72-93 per cent. The most striking observation was that 93 per cent growth inhibition was observed against colon cancer cells and 84 per cent against lung cancer cells. Significant results were also produced in case of melanoma and renal cancer cells as 80 per cent and 72 per cent growth inhibition was observed respectively. Further, anaar exhibited 81% growth inhibition at lower concentration against lung cancer cells.
Ziziphus mauritiana is a fruit tree which grows in tropical and sub-tropical regions of the world. Different parts of this plant have been used in the traditional medicine for the treatment of different ailments such as asthma, allergies, depression and ulcers. Studies have also investigated the phenolics composition of the fruit and illustrated the scientific basis for the uses of different parts of this plant for the treatment of diabetes, ulcer and inflammation. The leaves of the plant possesses antioxidant, antimicrobial, antitumor and anticancer potential. In the present research work, ber fruit showed significant activity against four human cancer cell lines from colon, lung, melanoma and renal origin in the range of 75-81 per cent as growth inhibition of 81 per cent was produced by against colon and lung cancer cells. The ber also showed growth inhibition of 76 per cent against melanoma and 75 per cent against renal cancer cells. Further, at lower concentrations, ber fruit showed 79 per centgrowth inhibition of lung and 70 per cent of melanoma cancer cells. The fruit showed IC50 > 10 in case of lung cancer cells only.
Thus, these minor fruits possess strong antiproliferative potential against human lung cancer cells. What is quite remarkable in these observations is that the cytotoxic effect shown by the fruit extract was much stronger than that shown by standard drugs for cancer (serving as positive controls in present investigation).The results obtained confirmed the therapeutic potency of ber and karonda against lung cancer cells and showed that these fruit extracts possess certain cytotoxic constituents that can be used for developing anticancer agents for lung cancer therapy. This research work has two fold importance: First, in Jammu subtropics, the in vitro anticancer efficiency of these minor fruits with IC50 values against the lung cancer cells used in the present investigation have not been reported in the literature. Secondly, the results from the investigation forms a good basis for the selection of these minor fruits of Jammu for further phytochemical and pharmacological analysis and offer us new drugs from natural sources which would be less toxic and more potent for the efficient management of cancer. Thus, on the basis of present analysis, it is suggested that we should encourage the consumption of these minor fruits so as to avoid the risk of lung cancer. Therefore, we can say that these two fruits possess cytotoxic potential against lung cancer cells and further the research is in progress for the isolation of active ingredient(s) that will surely serve as lead molecule (s) in the development of anticancer drugs to provide a great promise and service to lung cancer patients. Regular consumption of fruits is associated with reduced risk of cancers and additive/ synergistic effects of phytochemicals in them are responsible for potent anticancer activities.
(The author is Assistant Professor, Division of Biochemistry, Faculty of Basic Sciences SKUAST-JAMMU)

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