A small clinical study has shown the benefits of the use of flavonoid fisetin supplements, from food sources such as strawberries, apples and grapes, on reducing pro-cancer inflammatory markers in colorectal cancer patients when given along with their adjuvant chemotherapy. Due to limited number of human trials with fisetin, its safety profile in high doses and possible side-effects are relatively unknown.
What is Fisetin?
Fisetin is a coloring agent that is naturally found in a variety of plants and vegetables including:
- Lotus Root
It falls under the broad category of natural plant flavonoids which have recently garnered a significant scientific following and interest due to the positive effect they are proving to have on a whole range of diseases.
Health Benefits of Fisetin
Fisetin, one of the flavonoids, is known to have diverse health benefits such as neuroprotective, anti-inflammatory, and anti-carcinogenic effects. Some of the purported uses of Fisetin are:
- May delay aging
- May reduce Depression and Anxiety
- May improve memory
- May improve Skin health by improving collagen, reducing UV damage
- May help treat eczema, a skin disease
- May protect the brain and improve cognitive health
- May control blood sugar
- May reduce bad cholesterol and improve heart health
- May protect the liver from damage by alcohol
- May reduce colon inflammation in Inflammatory Bowel Disease
However, all these benefits are claimed based on animal studies and are yet to be validated by conducting clinical trials in humans.
While there are multiple studies that have been done and are currently ongoing on fisetin’s impact on a range of different health problems, this blog is specifically focussing on fisetin’s ability to reduce inflammation in colorectal cancer patients.
Side Effects of Fisetin
Fisetin is generally thought to be very safe. However, due to the very limited number of human trials with fisetin, its safety profile in high doses is relatively unknown. In any case, pregnant women and children should avoid taking the fisetin supplements, due to lack of information of the side-effects of their use.
Colorectal cancer, or bowel cancer, is an extremely common cancer around the globe for which the risk increases with age. This cancer can be treated either by surgically removing the tumor, or by using new chemotherapy drugs and radiation. But even with more advanced chemotherapy drugs being developed, the unfortunate byproduct is the collateral damage to the patient’s normal blood cells that are also attacked by the cytotoxic drugs along with the tumor cells, thus drastically reducing the patient’s immunity and quality of life. Hence, studies have been carried out to investigate the effect of natural flavonoids such as Fisetin on the chemotherapy outcomes in colorectal cancer patients.
Fisetin Supplements for Colorectal Cancer
In 2018, a clinical study was published by the medical researchers from Iran on the effects of fisetin supplementation on factors related to inflammation and spread (metastasis), in Colorectal Cancer patients receiving adjuvant chemotherapy (Farsad-Naeimi A et al, Food Funct. 2018). In this study, 37 patients aged 55 ± 15 years old, who were admitted to the Oncology Department of Tabriz University of Medical Sciences, Iran, with stage II or III colorectal cancer, with a life expectancy of more than 3 months, were divided into two groups before initiating the treatment with chemotherapies (OXA and CAPE). The first group of 19 patients was the control group which received 100 mg corn starch as capsules while the fisetin group which included 18 patients received 100 mg of fisetin for 7 consecutive weeks. These supplements were initiated one week before chemotherapy and continued until the end of the second cycle of chemotherapy. The plasma levels of different inflammatory factors such as cytokines and chemokines including interleukin (IL)-8, IL-10, high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP), and enzymes that facilitate metastasis such as matrix metalloproteinases MMP-7, and MMP-9 were measured, before and after the supplementation. Cytokines and chemokines are inflammatory mediators with chemoattractant properties for white blood cells and pro-tumor properties such as induction of growth factors and development of blood vessels (angiogenesis). The researchers found that in the group using fisetin supplement, there was a significant reduction of the pro-cancer inflammatory factor IL-8 when compared to the control group. Fisetin supplementation also reduced the levels of some of the other inflammation and metastasis factors such as hs-CRP and MMP-7. (Farsad-Naeimi A et al, Food Funct. 2018)
In summary, this study suggested the possible beneficial effects of fisetin supplementation along with adjuvant chemotherapy on reducing pro-cancer inflammatory factors in colorectal cancer patients. It is more recently that we have been able to identify and isolate the various different phytochemicals from plants that are confirming the benefits of eating a healthy diet with multiple servings of fruits and vegetables. However, the isolated active, such as the flavonoid fisetin in this study, given at a higher dose than what we would get in our daily consumption of the fruits and vegetables, has the potential to benefit colorectal cancer patients. Patients considering using fisetin or any plant based supplement should take these in the right quantities to obtain benefits and avoid unexpected outcomes, and should inform their health practitioners about their use of the supplements. Additionally, with the surge of multitude of various plant based supplements being sold in the market, we all need to choose the supplements carefully based on the products having the right regulatory labels and certifications to support the purity and potency of the product.
Cancer patients often have to deal with different chemotherapy side effects which affect their quality of life and look out for alternative therapies for cancer.Taking the right nutrition and supplements based on scientific considerations (avoiding guesswork and random selection) is the best natural remedy for cancer and treatment related side-effects.