Nutritional supplements like Zi Cao have many health benefits and are being widely used by cancer patients and those at-genetic-risk of cancer. But, is it safe to take Zi Cao supplements for all types of cancer and without considering any ongoing treatments and other lifestyle conditions? A common belief but only a myth is that anything natural can only benefit me or do no harm. As one example, the use of grapefruit with certain medications is not recommended. Another example, the use of spinach with some blood thinning medications can cause adverse interactions and should be avoided. For cancer, nutrition which includes the food and natural supplements has been shown to influence outcomes. Hence a frequently asked question by cancer patients to dieticians and doctors is “What Should I eat and What Should I Avoid?”.
Taking nutritional Zi Cao supplements can benefit cancer patients with Renal Non-Clear Cell Carcinoma on Bevacizumab treatment. But avoid Zi Cao supplements if on Carmustine treatment for Pineoblastoma. Similarly, taking nutritional supplement Zi Cao can benefit healthy individuals who are at genetic risk of cancer due to mutation of gene TP53. But avoid taking nutritional supplement Zi Cao when at genetic risk of cancer due to mutation of gene TERT.
The takeaway being – your individual context will influence your decision if nutritional supplement Zi Cao is safe or not. And also that this decision needs to be constantly revisited as conditions change. Conditions like cancer type, current ongoing treatments and supplements, age, gender, weight, height, lifestyle and any genetic mutations identified matter. So a legitimate question for you to ask for any recommendation of food and natural supplement is how it is related to your individual context.
Nutritional supplements – vitamins, herbs, minerals, probiotics, and other specialty categories are increasing. Supplements are high concentrations of active ingredients which are also found in different foods. The difference being foods contain more than one active ingredient at lower diffused concentrations. Remember that each of these ingredients has its own science and biological mechanism at molecular level – hence choose the right combination of supplements like Zi Cao based on individual context and conditions.
So the question is should you take supplement Zi Cao? Should you take it when at genetic risk of cancer for mutation of gene TERT? Should you take it when at genetic risk of cancer for mutation of gene TP53? Should you take it when diagnosed with Pineoblastoma? Should you take Zi Cao supplement when diagnosed with Renal Non-Clear Cell Carcinoma? Should you take it when on Carmustine treatment? Should you continue taking it if you change your treatment from Carmustine to Bevacizumab? So a general explanation like – it is natural or it increases immunity may not be acceptable and sufficient for choosing Zi Cao.
Cancer remains an unsolved problem statement. The improved availability of personalized treatments and monitoring of cancer via blood and saliva have been significant factors to improve outcomes. The earlier the intervention – the better the influence on outcome. Genetic testing has the potential to assess cancer risk and susceptibility early. But besides regular monitoring in most cases there are no therapeutic intervention options available. After diagnosis with cancer such as Pineoblastoma or Renal Non-Clear Cell Carcinoma, the treatments get personalized to tumor genomics and factors like staging of disease, age and gender.During cancer remission (after treatment cycle is complete) – monitoring is used for assessment of any relapse and accordingly decide next steps. A large majority of cancer patients and those at-risk do take nutritional supplements like Zi Cao.
So the question is that are all genetic mutation risks and types of cancers to be considered as one when deciding the use of Zi Cao? Are the biochemical pathway implications of genetic risk for cancer due to mutation of gene TERT the same as due to mutation of gene TP53? Are the implications of Pineoblastoma same as Renal Non-Clear Cell Carcinoma? Is it one and the same if you are on treatment with Carmustine or with Bevacizumab?
Zi Cao – A Nutritional Supplement
Zi Cao is a herbal plant that belongs to the Lithospermum family. It is part of traditional herbal medicine which has long been known for its effectiveness in treating hyperthyroid conditions. Some of the purported health benefits of consuming Zi Cao are:
- Vitalizes blood
- Clear skin lesions and relieves burn
- Relieves mild constipation
- Possesses Anticancer properties (Yue Hou et al, Yakugaku Zasshi. 2006, Nan Zhang et al, Int J Biol Sci. 2020)
Zi Cao supplements contain many active ingredients including Shikonin at different concentration levels. The molecular pathways which are regulated by Zi Cao include Cancer Epigenetics, Epithelial to Mesenchymal Transition, MYC Signaling, P53 Signaling and Oxidative Stress. These cellular pathways directly or indirectly regulate specific cancer molecular endpoints like growth, spread and death. Because of this biological regulation – for cancer nutrition, the right choice of supplements like Zi Cao individually or in combination is an important decision to be made. When making decisions on the use of supplement Zi Cao for cancer – do consider all these factors and explanations. Because just as true for cancer treatments – Zi Cao use cannot be a one-size-fits-all decision for all types of cancers.
Choosing Zi Cao Supplements for Your Cancer
The reason there is no easy way to answer the question “When should I avoid Zi Cao for Cancer” is because “It Depends!”. Just like the same treatment does not work for every cancer patient, based on your individual context the Zi Cao may be harmful or safe. Along with which cancer and associated genetics – the ongoing treatments, supplements, lifestyle habits, BMI and allergies are all factors deciding if Zi Cao should be avoided or not and why.
1. Will Zi Cao Supplements benefit Cancer Patients with Pineoblastoma undergoing Carmustine treatment?
Pineoblastoma is characterized and driven by specific genetic mutations like ATR and ATM leading to biochemical pathway changes in Cancer Epigenetics, DNA Repair, EPHRIN Signaling and PI3K-AKT-MTOR Signaling. A cancer treatment like Carmustine works through a specific pathway mechanism of action. The goal is to have a good overlap between the treatment and cancer driving pathways for a personalized approach which is effective. In such a condition any food or nutritional supplement which has a contrary effect to the treatment or reduces the overlap should be avoided. As an example, Zi Cao supplement should be avoided for Pineoblastoma along with treatment Carmustine. Zi Cao supplement impacts pathways/processes like Cancer Epigenetics which either promote drivers of the Pineoblastoma and/or nullify the treatment effect. Some of the factors which should be considered when choosing nutrition are type of cancer, treatments and supplements being taken currently (if any), age, gender, BMI, lifestyle and any genetic mutation information (if available).
2. Will Zi Cao Supplements benefit Cancer Patients with Renal Non-Clear Cell Carcinoma undergoing Bevacizumab Treatment?
Renal Non-Clear Cell Carcinoma is characterized and driven by specific genetic mutations like MUC16 and TP53 leading to biochemical pathway changes in Epithelial to Mesenchymal Transition, Oxidative Stress, Hypoxia, Small Molecule Transport and PI3K-AKT-MTOR Signaling. A cancer treatment like Bevacizumab works through specific pathway mechanisms. The goal is to have a good overlap between the treatment and cancer driving pathways for a personalized approach. In such a condition any food or nutritional supplement which has a compatible effect to the treatment or reduces the overlap should be considered. As an example, Zi Cao supplement should be considered for Renal Non-Clear Cell Carcinoma along with treatment Bevacizumab. Zi Cao supplement impacts pathways/processes like Epithelial to Mesenchymal Transition and Oxidative Stress which either obstruct drivers of the Renal Non-Clear Cell Carcinoma and/or improve the treatment effect.
Foods to Eat After Cancer Diagnosis!
No two cancers are the same. Go beyond the common nutrition guidelines for everyone and make personalized decisions about food and supplements with confidence.
3. Are Zi Cao Supplements Safe for Healthy Individuals with TERT Mutation Associated Genetic Risk?
Different companies offer panels of genes to be tested for assessing genetic risk to different cancers. These panels cover genes associated with cancers of the breast, ovary, uterus, prostate, and gastrointestinal system and others. Genetic testing of these genes may confirm a diagnosis and help guide treatment and management decisions. Identification of a disease-causing variant may also guide testing and diagnosis of at-risk relatives. TERT is one of the genes generally available in panels for cancer risk testing.
TERT mutation causes biochemical pathways MYC Signaling, MAPK Signaling, Nucleotide metabolism, Stem Cell Signaling and Hypoxia to get impacted. These pathways are direct or indirect drivers of cancer molecular endpoints. Zi Cao supplement should be avoided when the genetic panel identifies mutation of TERT for Hematological Cancer. Zi Cao supplement impacts pathways/processes like MYC Signaling and MAPK Signaling and creates adverse effects with TERT and related conditions.
4. Are Zi Cao Supplements Safe for Healthy Individuals with TP53 Mutation Associated Genetic Risk?
TP53 is one of the genes available in panels for cancer risk testing. TP53 mutation causes biochemical pathways P53 Signaling, MAPK Signaling, Stem Cell Signaling, Estrogen Signaling and Autophagy to get impacted. These pathways are direct or indirect drivers of cancer molecular endpoints. Consider taking Zi Cao supplement when the genetic panel identifies mutation in TP53 for Breast Cancer and Lung Cancer. Zi Cao supplement impacts pathways/processes like P53 Signaling and MAPK Signaling and creates a supportive effect in those with TP53 and related conditions.
* Other Factors are also included like BMI, Treatments, Lifestyle Habits
The two most important things to remember are that cancer treatments and nutrition are never the same for everyone. Nutrition which includes food and nutritional supplements like Zi Cao, is an effective tool which can be controlled by you, while facing cancer.
What food you eat and which supplements you take is a decision you make. Your decision should include consideration of the cancer gene mutations, which cancer, ongoing treatments and supplements, any allergies, lifestyle information, weight, height and habits.
The nutrition planning for cancer from addon is not based on internet searches. It automates the decision making for you based on molecular science implemented by our scientists and software engineers. Irrespective of whether you care to understand the underlying biochemical molecular pathways or not - for nutrition planning for cancer that understanding is needed.
Get started NOW with your nutrition planning by answering questions on the name of cancer, genetic mutations, ongoing treatments and supplements, any allergies, habits, lifestyle, age group and gender.
Personalized Nutrition for Cancer!
Cancer changes with time. Customize and modify your nutrition based on cancer indication, treatments, lifestyle, food preferences, allergies and other factors.
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.