Nutritional supplements like Barberry 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 Barberry 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 Barberry supplements can benefit cancer patients with ALK+ Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer on Alectinib treatment. But avoid Barberry supplements if on Ibrutinib treatment for Waldenstrom Macroglobulinemia (Relapsed Refractory). Similarly, taking nutritional supplement Barberry can benefit healthy individuals who are at genetic risk of cancer due to mutation of gene CDKN1B. But avoid taking nutritional supplement Barberry when at genetic risk of cancer due to mutation of gene PALB2.
The takeaway being – your individual context will influence your decision if nutritional supplement Barberry 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 Barberry based on individual context and conditions.
So the question is should you take the supplement Barberry? Should you take it when at genetic risk of cancer for mutation of gene PALB2? Should you take it when at genetic risk of cancer for mutation of gene CDKN1B? Should you take it when diagnosed with Waldenstrom Macroglobulinemia (Relapsed Refractory)? Should you take Barberry supplements when diagnosed with ALK+ve Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer? Should you take it when on Ibrutinib treatment? Should you continue taking Barberry supplements if you change your treatment from Ibrutinib to Alectinib? So a general explanation like – it is natural or it increases immunity may not be acceptable and sufficient for choosing Barberry.
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 Waldenstrom Macroglobulinemia (Relapsed Refractory) or ALK+ Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer, 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 Barberry.
So the question is that are all genetic mutation risks and types of cancers to be considered as one when deciding the use of Barberry? Are the biochemical pathway implications of genetic risk for cancer due to mutation of gene PALB2 the same as due to mutation of gene CDKN1B? Are the implications of taking Barberry supplements in Waldenstrom Macroglobulinemia (Relapsed Refractory) the same as ALK+ Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer? Is it one and the same if you are on treatment with Ibrutinib or on Alectinib?
Barberry – A Nutritional Supplement
Barberry, also known as Berberis vulgaris, is an evergreen shrub which is commonly found in Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, Central Asia, as well as in North America. It produces red coloured berries which are highly nutritious and have strong antioxidant properties. Barberries have also been used in traditional medicine for various health conditions. Following are some of the potential health benefits of barberry:
- May help reduce blood sugar (Zolikha Moazezi and Durdi Qujeq, Jundishapur J Nat Pharm Prod., 2014)
- May have anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory properties (Rasool Nasiri Kalmarzi et al, Oxid Med Cell Longev., 2019)
- May help reduce oxidative stress in patients with metabolic syndrome (Akram Mohammadi et al, Iran Red Crescent Med J., 2014)
- May help reduce diarrhea (Chunqiu Chen et al, Am J Chin Med., 2014)
Barberry supplements contain many active ingredients including Berberine, Beta-carotene and Caffeic Acid at different concentration levels. The molecular pathways which are regulated by Barberry include MYC Signaling, Extracellular Matrix Remodelling, Stem Cell Signaling, NFKB Signaling and G-protein-coupled Receptor 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 Barberry individually or in combination is an important decision to be made. When making decisions on the use of supplement Barberry for cancer – do consider all these factors and explanations. Because just as true for cancer treatments – Barberry use cannot be a one-size-fits-all decision for all types of cancers.
Choosing Barberry Supplements for Your Cancer
The reason there is no easy way to answer the question “When should I avoid Barberry for Cancer” is because “It Depends!”. Just like the same treatment does not work for every cancer patient, based on your individual context the Barberry 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 Barberry should be avoided or not and why.
1. Will Barberry Supplements benefit Cancer Patients with Waldenstrom Macroglobulinemia (Relapsed Refractory) undergoing Ibrutinib treatment?
Waldenstrom Macroglobulinemia (Relapsed Refractory) is characterized and driven by specific genetic mutations like BTK and TBL1XR1 leading to biochemical pathway changes in MYC Signaling, NFKB Signaling, B Cell Receptor Signaling and Phospholipase Signaling. A cancer treatment like Ibrutinib 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, Barberry should be avoided for Waldenstrom Macroglobulinemia (Relapsed Refractory) along with treatment Ibrutinib. Barberry impacts pathways/processes like MYC Signaling and NFKB Signaling which either promote drivers of the disease and/or nullify the treatment effect. Additionally, Barberry supplements contain active ingredients like Berberine, Caffeic Acid and Beta-Carotene which have CYP3A4 and/or CYP2D6 (drug metabolizing enzyme) interactions with Ibrutinib treatment, and hence should be avoided by patients undergoing this treatment. (Dada Patil et al, Integr Cancer Ther., 2014; Dieter Kronabel et al, Clin Lab., 2015; Ying Guo et al, J Ethnopharmacol., 2011; Ralph Rühl et al, Eur J Nutr., 2004; Churdsak Jaikang et al, J. Med. Plants Res., 2011; Himanshu Rastogi and Snehasis Jana, Phytother Res., 2014) 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 Barberry Supplements benefit Cancer Patients with ALK+ Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer undergoing Alectinib Treatment?
ALK+ Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer is characterized and driven by specific genetic mutations like ALK and TP53 leading to biochemical pathway changes in Extracellular Matrix Remodelling, G-protein-coupled Receptor Signaling, PI3K-AKT-MTOR Signaling and Small Molecule Transport. A cancer treatment like Alectinib 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, Barberry supplement should be considered for ALK+ Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer along with treatment Alectinib. Barberry supplement impacts pathways/processes like Extracellular Matrix Remodelling and G-protein-coupled Receptor Signaling which either obstruct drivers of the disease and/or improve Alectinib 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 Barberry Supplements Safe for Healthy Individuals with PALB2 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. PALB2 is one of the genes generally available in panels for cancer risk testing.
PALB2 mutation causes biochemical pathways/processes like Stem Cell Signaling, Estrogen Signaling, Growth Factor Signaling, Angiogenesis and DNA Repair to get impacted. These pathways are direct or indirect drivers of cancer molecular endpoints. Barberry should be avoided when the genetic panel identifies mutation of PALB2 for Breast Cancer and Kidney Cancer. Barberry impacts pathways/processes like Stem Cell Signaling and Estrogen Signaling and creates adverse effects with PALB2 and related conditions.
4. Are Barberry Supplements Safe for Healthy Individuals with CDKN1B Mutation Associated Genetic Risk?
CDKN1B is one of the genes available in panels for cancer risk testing. CDKN1B mutation causes biochemical pathways/processes like Stem Cell Signaling, FOXO Signaling, Cell Cycle Checkpoints, PI3K-AKT-MTOR Signaling and Angiogenesis to get impacted. These pathways are direct or indirect drivers of cancer molecular endpoints. Consider taking Barberry supplements when the genetic panel identifies mutation in CDKN1B for Neuroendocrine Cancer. Barberry impacts pathways/processes like Stem Cell Signaling and FOXO Signaling and creates a supportive effect in those with CDKN1B 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 Barberry, 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.