Apigenin, a plant-derived natural supplement found in common vegetables, fruits, herbs and beverages has been known to have different health benefits due to their anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory effects. Multiple laboratory studies have shown how Apigenin may help in inhibiting the cancer cells and how it can synergize with specific chemotherapy in prostate, pancreatic, gastric and other cancers.
The scourge of a cancer-diagnosis is a life-changing event that leads the individual to revisit and modify their lifestyle and diet choices. Despite the fact that chemotherapy is still one of the best therapeutic methods to treat the cancer, patients are wary of multiple issues related to chemo especially the immense side-effects and quality of life impact. The cancer patient looks for any and all alternative options with the chemotherapy, to improve their ‘odds of success’. One such option is adding on natural and herbal supplements that have been used in traditional medicine practices the world over, for their immune boosting and healing properties (natural remedy for cancer). The modus operandi for most cancer patients is a random selection of these plant derived natural products with anti-cancer effects that they start taking, with the notion that it will help them better deal with the side-effects without adding to the toxicity burden and improve their chances of cancer-free survival. One such natural product is a flavonoid called Apigenin.
Apigenin and its Food Sources
Apigenin is a dietary flavonoid (flavone) found in many plants, fruits, vegetables and beverages including:
- Chamomile tea
- Red wine
Apigenin plays an integral role in Chinese herbal therapy.
Purported Uses/Health Benefits of Apigenin
Like many traditionally used natural products, it is known that Apigenin has strong anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antibacterial and antiviral activities. Some of the purported uses/health benefits of Apigenein include:
- May reduce depression/anxiety and insomnia (sleeplessness)
- May have anti-diabetic effects
- May exert a neuroprotective effect
- May have anti-cancer properties
- May help reduce blood pressure
Anti-Cancer Effects/Benefits of Apigenin
Extensive studies done on a wide-variety of cancer cell lines and animal models using Apigenin have demonstrated its anti-cancer effects. The beauty of flavonoids like Apigenin is that it is not only able to help in cancer-preventative measures to decrease the potential future risk of developing a tumor, but is also able to work synergistically with some chemotherapies to enhance the efficacy of the drug (Yan et al, Cell Biosci., 2017).
Few Examples of Anti-Cancer Effects of Apigenin
Some of the examples of cancer preventative actions of Apigenin and its synergies with chemotherapy in specific cancer-types are highlighted below.
Effect of Apigenin in Gastro-Intestinal Cancers
In the case of gastrointestinal cancers, Apigenin was found to induce cell death and hinder the growth of new blood vessels that help the tumor grow. In addition, Apigenin made the environment of the tumor more hostile by reducing glucose uptake by the cancer cells, interfering with remodeling of the matrix outside and around the cancer cell, and prevent processes that promote cancer progression and spread (Lefort EC et al, Mol Nutr Food Res., 2013).
Effect of taking Apigenin along with Gemcitabine Chemotherapy for Pancreatic Cancer – Experimental Studies
- A laboratory study done by the researchers from the Seoul National University College of Medicine in Korea found that apigenin enhanced the anti-tumor efficacy of gemcitabine in pancreatic cancer. (Lee SH et al, Cancer Lett., 2008)
- Another study done by the researchers from the Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago also found that using apigenin along with gemcitabine inhibited pancreatic cancer cell growth and induced cancer cell death (apoptosis). (Strouch MJ et al, Pancreas, 2009)
In short, multiple studies using cell culture and animal models found that Apigenin potentiated the efficacy of gemcitabine chemotherapy in otherwise hard to treat pancreatic cancer.
Effect of taking Apigenin along with Cisplatin Chemotherapy – Experimental Study
In a study done by the researchers from the Trakya University in Turkey, Apigenin when combined with chemo drug Cisplatin significantly enhanced its cytotoxic effect in prostate cancer cells(anti-cancer effect of Apigenin), and the molecular mechanisms of action of Apigenin were determined. (Erdogan S et al, Biomed Pharmacother., 2017).
Different experimental studies suggest the anti-cancer potential/benefits of apigenin. However, the results from these experimental studies are not validated in human trials. Also, on a cautionary note, the fact that a natural product like Apigenin is able to have such a deep impact on the cellular level also means that it can have adverse effects on one’s cancer treatment if used with the wrong combination of chemo drugs. Additionally, Apigenin being an antioxidant can interfere with chemo drugs that use the mechanism of increasing oxidative damage to cancer cells when taken concurrently with the chemo, while studies have shown that a pre-treatment with Apigenin prior to chemo had a better impact. Therefore, it is key that cancer patients always consult their health professionals on their diet and use of natural supplements when undergoing chemotherapy rather than a random selection based on recommendations from family and friends.
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.