It is known that obesity is linked to many cancer types. A 2016 report conducted by the International Agency for Research on Cancer demonstrated that obesity increases the risk of the incidence of at least 13 types of cancers. Many studies have shown that, in postmenopausal women, a higher Body Mass Index is associated with a modest increase in the risk of breast cancer.
Obesity increases the risk of developing breast cancer
A recent study published in the journal ScienceTranslational Medicine found obesity promotes resistance to antiangiogenic therapy in breast cancer by up-regulating IL-6 and potentially FGF-2.
Antiangiogenic therapy is designed to prevent the growth of blood vessels that provide tumors with oxygen and nutrients. The researchers found in the experiment that obesity upgraded inflammation and angiogenesis-related factors, eventually triggering angiogenesis.
This study may explain why chemotherapy treatment doesn’t work in some patients with breast cancer and the combination therapy which involves drugs against the upregulating of IL-6 and potentially FGF-2 can be a solution to the poor performance of chemotherapy against breast cancer.
Ginsenosides as an adjuvant agent for breast cancer
Ginsenosides are natural compounds extracted from Araliaceae plants like Panax ginseng. As the metabolite of prototype ginsenosides, rare ginsenosides exhibit pharmacological activities in many aspects, such as anti-tumor, anti-inflammatory, anti-fatigue and analgesic effects. Scientists have identified at least 30 rare ginsenosides, including Rk2、Rh3、Rg5、Rh4、aPPD.
Researchers from Sookmyung Women’s University in South Korea explored antitumor activity against MCF-7 breast cancer cells to target ginsenoside Rg5. They found that ginsenoside Rg5 exhibited anti-breast cancer activity through three mechanisms of actions, namely, exerting cytotoxicity, inhibiting cell cycle and inducing cell apoptosis of breast cancer. More noticeably, ginsenoside Rg5 showed no cytotoxic effects on normal cells, thus avoiding the side effects easily caused by chemotherapeutic drugs.
In addition, researchers from College of Life Sciences, Kyung Hee University in the Republic of Korea published a study in the Iranian Journal of Biotechnology, finding that ginsenoside Rg5: Rk1 reduced intracellular lipid accumulation and exerted an anti-obesity effect on 3T3-L1 mature adipocytes.
Based on the fact that obesity accompanies many cancer types, a healthy lifestyle, including healthy diets and regular exercises, is advisable to maintain a normal weight. Besides, taking some ginsenoside supplements can also be good choices for breast cancer patients.