Ginger is an herb that is widely used as a spice and medicine. Indigenous to southern China, ginger eventually spread to the Spice Islands, other parts of Asia and subsequently to West Africa and the Caribbean.
According to the National Library of Medicine, part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), ginger is widely used throughout the world for treating loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting after surgery, nausea resulting from cancer treatment, flatulence, stomach upset, colic, morning sickness and motion sickness.
There is one other thing that Ginger is known to treat… breast cancer. A new study was published in the “Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology” suggesting that ginger may be a promising breast cancer treatment.
The researchers at the Biological Sciences Department, Faculty of Sciences, King Abdulaziz University, Saudi Arabia, found out that a crude extract from ginger repressed the proliferation of breast cancer cells without affecting the viability of non-tumor breast cells. This property, known as selective cytotoxicity, is highly significant because it is not found in conventional treatments.
Based on the study, the following problems were outlined by the researchers:
- Despite significant advances toward targeted therapy and screening techniques, breast cancer continues to be a chronic medical problem worldwide, being the most common type of cancer in women and the leading cause of death.
- Typically, the treatment of breast cancer involves hormonal therapy with tamoxifen or other selective estrogen receptor (ER) modulators. However, almost all patients with metastatic disease and approximately 40% of patients that receive tamoxifen experience relapse that ends by death.
- The clinical utility of ER antagonists is often limited by side effects and is largely ineffective against ER-negative breast cancer.
- Despite the fact that many tumors initially respond to chemotherapy, breast cancer cells can subsequently survive and gain resistance to the treatment.
As a result, the identification of novel agents that are relatively safe but can suppress growth of both ER-positive and ER-negative human breast cancers is highly desirable.
Furthermore, the Researchers found out that ginger was capable of positively modulating a surprisingly wide range of molecular mechanisms simultaneously, such as:
- Programmed cell death
- Upregulation of a pro-apoptosis gene called Bax
- Downregulation of cancer associated genes and proteins
- Increased expression of anti-cancer associated proteins
- Inhibition of cancer-associated enzymes
It should be noted that this is not the first study to confirm ginger’s anti-breast cancer properties. In fact, a ginger compound known as Gingerol has recently been shown to have anti-metastatic properties in breast cancer.
Besides breast cancer, ginger has also been studied to inhibit the following cancers:
- Colon and Rectal Cancer
- Liver Cancer
- Lung Cancer
- Pancreatic Cancer
- Prostate Cancer
- Skin Cancer
By Photograph: Frank C. Müller, Baden-Baden (Self-photographed) via Wikimedia Commons