Polyphenols anti-tumor activities - Magaziner Center for Wellness

Polyphenols anti-tumor activities

Category: Cancer

Cancer and mutations caused by oxidative stress

This is what a paper in Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity says: “Cancer onset and progression have been linked to oxidative stress by increasing DNA mutations or inducing DNA damage, genome instability, and cell proliferation and therefore antioxidant agents could interfere with carcinogenesis.” Simply, cancer spreads by mutation, antioxidants can disrupt that mutation cycle.

Moreso, studies suggest that diet particularly rich in fruits and vegetables have cancer preventive properties. The beneficial effects of diet are attributable, at least in part, to polyphenols which have antitumour activities.1

Polyphenols for cancer

This is the type of research doctors have been calling for. Research that examines the use of medicinal plants for various diseases including cancer. Specifically medicinal plants that reduce the oxidative stress in cells and prevent cancer, cardiovascular and inflammatory diseases, neurodegenerative and digestive system disorders, i.e, polyphenols.2

There has been much interest in the potential health benefits of dietary plant polyphenols as antioxidant. Studies and associated meta-analyses strongly suggest that long term consumption of diets rich in plant polyphenols offer protection against development of cancers, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, osteoporosis and neurodegenerative diseases.3


The table to the left provides a list of the top polyphenol and antioxidant content foods. A full list can be found here

Here is a summary of recent research

In one paper, doctors addressed gastric cancer, gastric mucosal injury, and polyphenols. They suggested that regular food intake of antioxidant and radical scavenging agents has been proposed to exert protection against tumorigenesis.

Resveratrol is a naturally occurring compound found in foods such as red grapes, raspberries, dark chocolate and some red wines and belongs to the polyphenol flavonoids class of antioxidants produced by a restricted number of plants. In the gastric environment Resveratrol exerts bactericidal activity against H. pylori and is a powerful antioxidant, thus acting as a tumor preventive agent. Resveratrol intracellular signaling results in growth arrest and apoptosis, so that it can be directed against tumor progression.4

Polyphenols to cancer: Drop dead

In the medical publication Cancer Letters, doctors supported using Polyphenols as mitochondria-targeted anticancer drugs. 5 They noted that that Mitochondria are the respiratory and energy centers of the cell where signaling pathways converge to give messages to the cells.

One of those messages programs the death of cancer cells (apoptosis – programmed cell death). Cancer is opportunistic because it can evade those commands. Making things worse is if the mitochondria messaging system is disrupted by oxidative stress – the messages to kill cancer cells become unclear.

It is noted that apoptosis  represents a major causative factor in the development and progression of cancer. The ability of tumor cells to evade engagement of apoptosis can play a significant role in their resistance to conventional therapeutic regimens. The medical community’s understanding of the complexities of apoptosis and the mechanisms evolved by tumor cells to resist engagement of cell death has focused research effort into the development of strategies designed to selectively induce apoptosis in cancer cells.6 Polyphenols may hold the key.

While scientists discover ways to synthesize Polyphenols into drugs, other research suggest that natural phenol and polyphenols are effective for cancer prevention and as a weapon against existing cancers.

Some of the studies point to  resveratrol’s ability to promote the DNA repair of free radical damage that can cause cell signalling disruption and other factors that can contribute to cancer growth.

A recent study supports growing evidence that resveratrol directly binds to DNA and RNA, activates antioxidant enzymes, prevents inflammation, and stimulates DNA damage checkpoints in malignant cells.7

Doctors noted an important finding in a recent paper published in the journal Science Translational Medicine by Cancer Research UK-funded researchers at the University of Leicester’s Department of Cancer Studies and Molecular Medicine. The paper reveals that resveratrol – is not rendered ineffective once it is metabolized by the body.


1 Mileo AM, Miccadei S, Polyphenols as Modulator of Oxidative Stress in Cancer Disease: New Therapeutic Strategies, Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity, vol. 2016, Article ID 6475624, 17 pages, 2016. doi:10.1155/2016/6475624

2. Ozkan G, Kamiloglu S, Ozdal T, Boyacioglu D, Capanoglu E. Molecules. Potential Use of Turkish Medicinal Plants in the Treatment of Various Diseases. 2016 Feb 25;21(3). pii: E257. Review.

3. Pandey KB, Rizvi SI. Plant polyphenols as dietary antioxidants in human health and disease. Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity. 2009;2(5):270-278.

4. Zulueta A, Caretti A, Signorelli P, Ghidoni R. Resveratrol: A potential challenger against gastric cancer. World J Gastroenterol. 2015 Oct 7;21(37):10636-43. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v21.i37.10636.

5. Gorlach S, Fichna J, Lewandowska U. Polyphenols as mitochondria-targeted anticancer drugs. Cancer Lett. 2015 Jul 13. pii: S0304-3835(15)00444-9. doi: 10.1016/j.canlet.2015.07.004. [Epub ahead of print]

6. Indrana IR, et al.  Recent advances in apoptosis, mitochondria and drug resistance in cancer cells Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA) – Bioenergetics. Volume 1807, Issue 6, June 2011, Pages 735–745

7. Shrotriya s, Agarwal R, Sclafani RA. A Perspective on Chemoprevention by Resveratrol in Head and Neck Squamous Cell Carcinoma Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology Volume 815, 2015, pp 333-348