Nutritional supplements like Spirulina 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 Spirulina supplements for all types of cancer 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 Spirulina supplements can benefit cancer patients with Diffuse Large B-Cell Lymphoma (DLBCL – Relapsed Refractory) undergoing Prednisone treatment. But avoid Spirulina supplements if on Cytarabine treatment for Myeloproliferative Neoplasms. Similarly, taking nutritional supplement Spirulina can benefit healthy individuals who are at genetic risk of cancer due to mutation of gene CDH1. But avoid taking nutritional supplement Spirulina when at genetic risk of cancer due to mutation of gene CDC73.
The takeaway being – your individual context will influence your decision if nutritional supplement Spirulina 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 Spirulina based on individual context and conditions.
So the question is should you take the supplement Spirulina? Should you take it when at genetic risk of cancer for mutation of gene CDC73? Should you take it when at genetic risk of cancer for mutation of gene CDH1? Should you take it when diagnosed with Myeloproliferative Neoplasms? Should you take Spirulina supplement when diagnosed with Diffuse Large B-Cell Lymphoma (DLBCL – Relapsed Refractory)? Should you take it when on Cytarabine treatment? Should you continue taking Spirulina supplement if you change your treatment from Cytarabine to Prednisone? So a general explanation like – it is natural or it increases immunity may not be acceptable and sufficient for choosing Spirulina.
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 Myeloproliferative Neoplasms or Diffuse Large B-Cell Lymphoma (DLBCL – Relapsed Refractory), 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 Spirulina.
So the question is that are all genetic mutation risks and types of cancers to be considered as one when deciding the use of Spirulina? Are the biochemical pathway implications of genetic risk for cancer due to mutation of gene CDC73 the same as due to mutation of gene CDH1? Are the implications of taking Spirulina supplement in Myeloproliferative Neoplasms the same as Diffuse Large B-Cell Lymphoma (DLBCL – Relapsed Refractory)? Is it one and the same if you are on treatment with Cytarabine or on Prednisone?
Spirulina – A Nutritional Supplement
Spirulina is a blue green algae with high protein and micronutrient content which grows in both salt and freshwater sources. It is packed with antioxidants and is also available in the form of dietary supplements. It also has anti-inflammatory properties. Following are some of the potential health benefits of spirulina :
- May help reduce anemia in elderly people (Carlo Selmi et al, Cell Mol Immunol., 2011)
- May help lower blood sugar (Panam Parikh et al, J Med Food., Winter 2001)
- May help reduce cholesterol and blood pressure (Patricia V Torres-Duran et al, Lipids Health Dis., 2007)
- May help in relieving allergic rhinitis symptoms (Ibrahim Sayin et al, ISRN Allergy., 2013)
- May help increase exercise performance (Maria Kalafati et al, Med Sci Sports Exerc., 2010)
In some people, excess intake of spirulina may lead to certain side effects like sleeplessness, upset stomach, nausea and headaches.
Spirulina supplements contain many active ingredients including Phycocyanin, Gamma-linolenic Acid, Beta-carotene and Zeaxanthin at different concentration levels. The molecular pathways which are regulated by Spirulina include MAPK Signaling, Epithelial to Mesenchymal Transition, WNT Beta Catenin Signaling, Adherens junction and Hypoxia. 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 Spirulina individually or in combination is an important decision to be made. When making decisions on the use of supplement Spirulina for cancer – do consider all these factors and explanations. Because just as true for cancer treatments – Spirulina use cannot be a one-size-fits-all decision for all types of cancers.
Choosing Spirulina Supplements for Your Cancer
The reason there is no easy way to answer the question “When should I avoid Spirulina for Cancer” is because “It Depends!”. Just like the same treatment does not work for every cancer patient, based on your individual context the Spirulina 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 Spirulina should be avoided or not and why.
1. Will Spirulina Supplements benefit Cancer Patients with Myeloproliferative Neoplasms undergoing Cytarabine treatment?
Myeloproliferative Neoplasms is characterized and driven by specific genetic mutations like JAK2 and CALR leading to biochemical pathway changes in MAPK Signaling, JAK-STAT Signaling, Cytokine Signaling and Hematopoiesis. A cancer treatment like Cytarabine 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, Spirulina should be avoided for Myeloproliferative Neoplasms along with treatment Cytarabine. Spirulina impacts pathways MAPK Signaling which either promote drivers of the disease and/or nullify the treatment effect. Additionally, Spirulina supplements contain active ingredients like Beta-Carotene which have CYP3A4 interactions with Cytarabine treatment and hence should be avoided by cancer patients undergoing this treatment. (Dawn E Colburn et al, Hematology., 2004; Ralph Rühl et al, Eur J Nutr., 2004) 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 Spirulina Supplements benefit Cancer Patients with Diffuse Large B-Cell Lymphoma (DLBCL – Relapsed Refractory) undergoing Prednisone Treatment?
Diffuse Large B-Cell Lymphoma (DLBCL – Relapsed Refractory) is characterized and driven by specific genetic mutations like CREBBP and KMT2D leading to biochemical pathway changes in Epithelial to Mesenchymal Transition, NFKB Signaling, MAPK Signaling, PI3K-AKT-MTOR Signaling and MYC Signaling. A cancer treatment like Prednisone 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, Spirulina supplement should be considered for Diffuse Large B-Cell Lymphoma (DLBCL – Relapsed Refractory) along with treatment Prednisone. Spirulina supplement impacts pathways Epithelial to Mesenchymal Transition and NFKB Signaling which either obstruct drivers of Diffuse Large B-Cell Lymphoma (DLBCL – Relapsed Refractory) 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 Spirulina Supplements Safe for Healthy Individuals with CDC73 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. CDC73 is one of the genes generally available in panels for cancer risk testing.
CDC73 mutation causes biochemical pathways/processes like WNT Beta Catenin Signaling, Stem Cell Signaling and Angiogenesis to get impacted. These pathways are direct or indirect drivers of cancer molecular endpoints. Spirulina should be avoided when the genetic panel identifies mutation of CDC73 for Neuroendocrine Cancer. Spirulina impacts pathways/processes like WNT Beta Catenin Signaling and Stem Cell Signaling and creates adverse effects with CDC73 and related conditions.
4. Are Spirulina Supplements Safe for Healthy Individuals with CDH1 Mutation Associated Genetic Risk?
CDH1 is one of the genes available in panels for cancer risk testing. CDH1 mutation causes biochemical pathways/processes like Adherens junction, Stem Cell Signaling, Epithelial to Mesenchymal Transition, Estrogen Signaling and WNT Betacatenin Signaling to get impacted. These pathways are direct or indirect drivers of cancer molecular endpoints. Consider taking Spirulina supplements when the genetic panel identifies mutation in CDH1 for Breast Cancer and Gastric Cancer. Spirulina impacts pathways/processes like Adherens junction and Stem Cell Signaling and creates a supportive effect in those with CDH1 mutation 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 Spirulina, 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.