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 Table of Contents  
Year : 2014  |  Volume : 1  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 5-8

Magnanimous effects and role of dietary nutrition on carcinogenesis: A comprehensive review of literature

1 Department of Periodontics, Shree Bankey Bihari Dental College and Research Centre, Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh, India
2 Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Rama Dental College Hospital and Research Centre, Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh, India
3 Department of Pedodontics and Preventive Dentistry, DJ Dental College, Modinagar, Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh, India
4 Department of Prosthodontics, Shree Bankey Bihari Dental College and Research Centre, Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh, India

Date of Web Publication17-Feb-2014

Correspondence Address:
Prashant Tyagi
Department of Periodontics, Shree Bankey Bihari Dental College and Research Centre, Masuri, N.H. 24, Ghaziabad - 201 302, Uttar Pradesh
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/2148-7731.127219

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Oral cancer is one of the most critical health problems faced by the mankind today. Cancer is a result of multiple genetic defects resulting from exposure to environmental and infectious agents. Most of the oral cancers are associated with tobacco use and some are attributed to inappropriate nutritional habits. Tobacco chewing is a unique habit of Indian, southeast Asian subcontinent and is consumed commonly in the form of pan, gutka, etc. Furthermore, cancer prevention strategies can be applied by upregulating the defense mechanism, inducing cancer cells to apoptosis and decreasing angiogenesis of cancer cells. Nutritional factors play a key role in cancer impediment by increasing the intake of vegetables and fruits. This paper is an effort to draw the attention towards the significant role of diet in cancer prevention and associated mechanisms with its carcinogenesis.

Keywords: Cancer, carcinogenesis, nutrition

How to cite this article:
Tyagi P, Shrama G, Hussain S, Kundu A, Gaur A, Kumar P. Magnanimous effects and role of dietary nutrition on carcinogenesis: A comprehensive review of literature. Sifa Med J 2014;1:5-8

How to cite this URL:
Tyagi P, Shrama G, Hussain S, Kundu A, Gaur A, Kumar P. Magnanimous effects and role of dietary nutrition on carcinogenesis: A comprehensive review of literature. Sifa Med J [serial online] 2014 [cited 2021 Sep 21];1:5-8. Available from: https://www.imjsu.org/text.asp?2014/1/1/5/127219

  Introduction Top

Relative advantages of a balanced diet on general body health are well-known. Rising incidence of cancer is an alarming cause of concern in today's world. Dietary factors have been thought to account for about 30% of cancers in Western countries, making diet second only to tobacco as a preventable cause of cancer. [1] According to the World Health Report (2002) tobacco is the most important preventable cause of overall mortality as well as cardiovascular mortality worldwide. [2] The contribution of diet to cancer risk in developing countries has been considered to be lower, perhaps around 20%. [3] Cancers of the oral cavity, pharynx, and esophagus were estimated to account for 867,000 cases and 582,000 deaths in 2000. [4]

Each year, about 550,000 Americans die of cancer; fully one-third of these deaths are linked to poor diet, physical inactivity, and obesity. In developed countries like India, the main risk factors are alcohol and tobacco, and up to 75% of these cancers are attributable to these two lifestyle factors. [5] Diet is an important factor in cancer etiology and prevention in India. In developing countries, around 60% of cancers of the oral cavity, pharynx, and esophagus are thought to be due to micronutrient deficiencies related to a restricted diet that is low in fruits and vegetables and animal products. [6],[7]

As a society, Indians have one of the most interesting diets, with many unique dietary constituents that have promise for cancer prevention. There is also consistent evidence that consuming drinks and foods at a very high temperature increases the risk for these cancers. [8] Since long time, it is believed that certain foods have potential components which augment our immune system and thus effectively combat various infectious diseases. [9] Genotoxic agent begins their action at the deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) level, causing DNA damage through several mechanisms, e.g., gene point mutations, deletions and insertions, recombinations, rearrangements and amplifications, as well as chromosomal aberrations. [10] However, literature has evidenced several studies stating that abundant consumption of foods of plant origin, such as fruit, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and tea can decrease the risk of developing various cancers. [11]

Human beings are often being exposed to carcinogenic factors during their life, whether they realize it or not. It was long discovered that the carcinogenesis process is complex and multistep process of which several genetic and molecular defects are needed to manifest as cancer. The three major stages of carcinogenic process are initiation, promotion, and progression Carcinogenesis is a multistep process which has checkpoint controls at each step. Thus, the process of carcinogenesis can be intercepted at all these various levels by a variety of molecular events. [12] Various steps involved in carcinogenesis are initiation, promotion, progression, and growth. Initiation results from exposure to a carcinogen, which leads to promotion of a normal cell to cancer cell. This further advances progression and growth of the cancer cells. These cancerous cells must accumulate several mutations in the genes involved in cell cycle arrest, resistance to apoptosis, and induction of angiogenesis in order to grow and invade the host tissues. The nutrients with their active components can act on genetic alterations occurring in cancer cells. They can also alter regulation of apoptosis, cause cell cycle arrest and control angiogenesis in tumor cells. Certain nutrients even restrict tumor growth potential. [13] The present paper describes the significant role of diet in cancer prevention along with an elaborate overview of various mechanisms by which several active nutrient molecules intercept carcinogenesis.

  Nutritional Carcinogenic Agents and the Source from Diet Top

Aflatoxin B1

Aflatoxin is a type of mycotoxins produced by the mold Aspergillus flavus. It is frequently found in legumes, corns, soybeans, rice, milk, and cheese. In different animal study models, aflatoxins B1 had been proved to induce liver cancer. Moreover, guanine interaction with adducts will create mutational effects to p53 tumor suppressor gene at specific codon 249. Such transversion is almost found in liver cancer patients with high levels of aflatoxins contamination. [14],[15]

Heterocyclic amines (HCA)

HCA are the most notorious carcinogenic chemicals usually formed inside muscle meats during various types of high temperature cooking. The underlying mechanism is frequently related to pyrolisis process from amino acids, proteins, and creatines. [16],[17],[18],[19],[20] HCA formation is mainly affected by four factors: Type of food, cooking method, temperature, and time. However, the HCA are found in cooked muscle meats (beef, pork, of fish). Other sources of protein (milk, eggs, tofu, and organ meats such as liver) have very little or no HCA content naturally or when cooked. Method of cooking, such as frying, broiling, and barbecuing produce the largest amounts of HCAs on the other hand oven, roasting, and baking produce smaller amount of HCAs. HCAs exposure can be reduced by varying methods of cooking meats, especially by stewing and boiling, and having the meats partially cooked by microwave, before frying, broiling, or barbecuing. [15]

Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs)

PAH compounds are generally produced during incomplete combustion of organic matter. These compounds are also usually found in tobacco smoking. Benzopirene is the best-characterized PAH compound available from the diet. Several animal and human studies suggest that dietary PAH is distributed to organ besides the locally exposed tissues, so it is plausible to consider that dietary PAH may contribute to lung or breast cancer risk, for example. [14]


Nitrosamine-based compounds are readily formed by nitrate- and nitrite-based elements. Carcinomas of the lung, liver, kidney, mammary gland, stomach, pancreas, bladder, or esophagus are understood on the basis of nitrosamine-related mechanisms. [21] Humans are exposed to N-nitroso compounds in diet from a variety of cured meats and fish products. Sodium nitrite has been used as food addictive for preservation and as coloring substance in meat. N-nitrosamines may also derived from nicotine of tobacco smoking. [22],[23]

Nutritional carcinogenesis

The nutrients such as β-carotene and α-tocopherol solely stimulate the immune cells like macrophages, mast cells, lymphocytes; which in turn are responsible for the release of cytokines tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α and TNF-β. These chemical mediators identify cancer cells and destroy them by apoptosis mechanism. [24],[25] Moreover, the extracts of Allium sativum (garlic) are known to enhance the immune system significantly by stimulating the proliferation of lymphocytes by increasing interleukin (IL)-2 and IL-4 production. [26] Additionally, the p53 is a tumor suppressor gene which is accountable for the repair of damaged DNA at G1 phase of the cell cycle. The main cause of tumor progression is dysfunction of p53 gene resulting in uncontrolled check points and failure in apoptosis of tumor cells. There is an experimental evidence that nutrients, like β-carotene, stimulate some "heat shock" proteins such as hsp 70 and hsp 90 possibly G proteins, which may act as signals to turn on the p53 tumor suppressor system and this may be a major mechanism for the anticancer action of antioxidant nutrients. The relationship of heat shock proteins to the p53 system has been demonstrated. [27],[28] In real terms, the dysregulated cell proliferation and apoptosis lead to cancer development progressively. However, initiation of apoptosis process is one of the novel therapeutic concepts which is known to be effective against cancer cells. At the molecular level apoptosis takes place by two pathways. The intrinsic apoptotic pathway involving the mitochondrial membrane permeabilization, release of cytochrome C into the cytosol, followed by activation of caspase-3 mechanism causing cell death. [29] Resveratrol found in grapes usually induces apoptosis and inhibits the growth of various human tumor cells, including oral squamous cell carcinoma. [30] The allyl sulfur compounds derived from garlic have a significant antiproliferative activity against human cancers. [31],[32] Luteolin, a flavonoid present in apples and carrots and selenium present in broccoli kills cancer cells by inducing apoptotic cell death in many types of cancers like epidermoid carcinoma and leukemia. [33] Curcumin is a major active polyphenolic component of turmeric (Curcuma longa). It is established that curcumin induces apoptosis in tumor cells. [34]

Cell division and cell-cycle progression is a sequential process that directs dividing mammalian cells through G1, S, G2, and M phases. Transitions between G1-S or G2-M phases function as checkpoints to halt cell division if necessary. Examples of dietary components that modulate cell proliferation include phenolic compounds, such as genistein and epigallocatechin-3-gallate, that elicit cell-cycle arrest through the induction of CDIs (p21 and p27) and the inhibition of CDK4, CDK2, cyclin D1, and cyclin E. [35] Flavonoids have been found to inhibit the proliferation of many cancer cells by arresting cell cycle progression either at the G1/S or G2/M checkpoints. Organosulfur compound called isothiocyanates found in papaya restore the cell cycle to eliminate cancer. Isothiocyanates can induce p21 expression and inhibit cell proliferation at the G2-M checkpoint. [36],[37] Allyl sulfur compounds present in garlic and onion has a potential to slow or prevent the growth of tumor cells. These compounds make cells vulnerable to the stress created by the products of cell division. As cancer cells divide rapidly, they create more stress compared to their normal counterparts. Hence cancer cells are damaged by the presence of allyl sulfur compounds. [38],[39]

  Summary Top

Diet and nutritional factors are one of several major causes of carcinogenesis. A large number of studies indicate that an abundant consumption of foods of plant origin reduce the risk of cancer. Food mutagen is working through genotoxic and non-genotoxic pathway in carcinogenesis. Genotoxic pathway works on the level of DNA causing DNA damage. Moreover, non-genotoxic pathway affects the cell through tumor promoters such as inflammation, immunosupression, free radical, and so on. The chemopreventive effect is related to the high content of nutrients like phytochemicals, lycopene, phenolic compounds, β-carotene, flavonoids, etc. These foods have a potent anticancer property. Therefore, one must have thorough knowledge of diet, nutrition, and lifestyles as they play vital role reducing cancer risk in the society.

  References Top

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