Nutritional supplements like Sulforaphane 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 Sulforaphane 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 Sulforaphane supplements can benefit cancer patients with Richter Syndrome undergoing Vincristine treatment. But avoid Sulforaphane supplements if on Carmustine treatment for Pineoblastoma. Similarly, taking nutritional supplement Sulforaphane can benefit healthy individuals who are at genetic risk of cancer due to mutation of gene KIT. But avoid taking nutritional supplement Sulforaphane when at genetic risk of cancer due to mutation of gene GATA2.
The takeaway being – your individual context will influence your decision if nutritional supplement Sulforaphane 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 Sulforaphane based on individual context and conditions.
So the question is should you take the supplement Sulforaphane? Should you take it when at genetic risk of cancer for mutation of gene GATA2? Should you take it when at genetic risk of cancer for mutation of gene KIT? Should you take it when diagnosed with Pineoblastoma? Should you take Sulforaphane supplement when diagnosed with Richter Syndrome? Should you take it when on Carmustine treatment? Should you continue taking Sulforaphane supplement if you change your treatment from Carmustine to Vincristine? So a general explanation like – it is natural or it increases immunity may not be acceptable and sufficient for choosing Sulforaphane.
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 Richter Syndrome, 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 Sulforaphane.
So the question is that are all genetic mutation risks and types of cancers to be considered as one when deciding the use of Sulforaphane? Are the biochemical pathway implications of genetic risk for cancer due to mutation of gene GATA2 the same as due to mutation of gene KIT? Are the implications of Pineoblastoma same as Richter Syndrome? Is it one and the same if you are on treatment with Carmustine or on Vincristine?
Sulforaphane – A Nutritional Supplement
Sulforaphane is a sulfur-rich natural plant compound which falls under the isothiocyanate family and is commonly found in cruciferous vegetables. Sulforaphane is produced when glucoraphanin comes into contact with myrosinase enzyme which is released when these vegetables are cut, chopped, or chewed. Sulforaphane has strong antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-apoptotic properties. (Giovanni Schepici et al, Int J Mol Sci., 2020) Following are some of the potential health benefits of Sulforaphane:
- May help reduce blood sugar (Annika S Axelsson et al, Sci Transl Med., 2017)
- May help manage blood pressure (Gamarallage V K Senanayake et al, Am J Hypertens., 2012)
- May help improve heart health (Paul C Evans, EPMA J., 2011)
- May have potential to counteract neurodegenerative diseases (Giovanni Schepici et al, Int J Mol Sci., 2020)
- May help improve symptoms of constipation (Akinori Yanaka, J Clin Biochem Nutr., 2018)
- May have protective effect against ultraviolet skin damage (Sohely Sikdar et al, J Cosmet Dermatol., 2016)
Sulforaphane is an active ingredient found in various food items. Broccoli, Brussels Sprout and Cabbage contain Sulforaphane at different concentration levels along with other active ingredients. The molecular pathways which are regulated by Sulforaphane include Cancer Epigenetics, NFKB Signaling, RAS-RAF Signaling and MAPK Signaling. 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 Sulforaphane individually or in combination is an important decision to be made. When making decisions on the use of supplement Sulforaphane for cancer – do consider all these factors and explanations. Because just as true for cancer treatments – Sulforaphane use cannot be a one-size-fits-all decision for all types of cancers.
Choosing Sulforaphane Supplements for Your Cancer
The reason there is no easy way to answer the question “When should I avoid Sulforaphane for Cancer” is because “It Depends!”. Just like the same treatment does not work for every cancer patient, based on your individual context the Sulforaphane 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 Sulforaphane should be avoided or not and why.
1. Will Sulforaphane 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, Sulforaphane should be avoided for Pineoblastoma along with treatment Carmustine. Sulforaphane impacts pathways/processes like Cancer Epigenetics which either promote drivers of the disease and/or nullify the treatment effect. Additionally, Sulforaphane supplements have CYP1A2 interactions with Carmustine treatment and hence should be avoided by cancer patients undergoing this treatment. (Paolo Perocco et al, Mutat Res., 2006; V Ribrag et al, Leuk Res., 1994) 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 Sulforaphane Supplements benefit Cancer Patients with Richter Syndrome undergoing Vincristine Treatment?
Richter Syndrome is characterized and driven by specific genetic mutations like MYC and TRAF3 leading to biochemical pathway changes in NFKB Signaling, RAS-RAF Signaling, MAPK Signaling, PI3K-AKT-MTOR Signaling and Cell Cycle. A cancer treatment like Vincristine 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, Sulforaphane supplement should be considered for Richter Syndrome along with treatment Vincristine. Sulforaphane supplement impacts pathways/processes like NFKB Signaling and RAS-RAF Signaling which either obstruct drivers of Richter Syndrome and/or improve Vincristine 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 Sulforaphane Supplements Safe for Healthy Individuals with GATA2 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. GATA2 is one of the genes generally available in panels for cancer risk testing.
GATA2 mutation causes biochemical pathways/processes like Cancer Epigenetics, Nucleotide metabolism, Stem Cell Signaling, Hypoxia and RUNX Signaling to get impacted. These pathways are direct or indirect drivers of cancer molecular endpoints. Sulforaphane should be avoided when the genetic panel identifies mutation of GATA2 for Hematological Cancer. Sulforaphane impacts pathways/processes like Cancer Epigenetics and Nucleotide metabolism and creates adverse effects with GATA2 and related conditions.
4. Are Sulforaphane Supplements Safe for Healthy Individuals with KIT Mutation Associated Genetic Risk?
KIT is one of the genes available in panels for cancer risk testing. KIT mutation causes biochemical pathways/processes like RAS-RAF Signaling, MAPK Signaling, Nucleotide metabolism, Stem Cell Signaling and Hypoxia to get impacted. These pathways are direct or indirect drivers of cancer molecular endpoints. Consider taking Sulforaphane supplements when the genetic panel identifies mutation in KIT for Gastric Cancer and Hematological Cancer. Sulforaphane impacts pathways/processes like RAS-RAF Signaling and MAPK Signaling and creates a supportive effect in those with KIT 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 Sulforaphane, 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.