Nutritional supplements like Wintergreen 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 Wintergreen 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 Wintergreen supplements can benefit patients with Monoclonal Gammopathy of Undetermined Significance on Lenalidomide cancer treatment. But avoid Wintergreen supplements if on Ifosfamide treatment for Testicular Germ Cell Tumors. Similarly, taking nutritional supplement Wintergreen can benefit healthy individuals who are at genetic risk of cancer due to mutation of gene CDKN1B. But avoid taking nutritional supplement Wintergreen 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 Wintergreen 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 Wintergreen based on individual context and conditions.
So the question is should you take the supplement Wintergreen? 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 CDKN1B? Should you take it when diagnosed with Testicular Germ Cell Tumors? Should you take Wintergreen supplements when diagnosed with Monoclonal Gammopathy of Undetermined Significance? Should you take it when on Ifosfamide treatment? Should you continue taking Wintergreen supplements if you change your treatment from Ifosfamide to Lenalidomide? So a general explanation like – it is natural or it increases immunity may not be acceptable and sufficient for choosing Wintergreens.
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 Testicular Germ Cell Tumors or Monoclonal Gammopathy of Undetermined Significance, 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 Wintergreen.
So the question is that are all genetic mutation risks and types of cancers to be considered as one when deciding the use of Wintergreen? Are the biochemical pathway implications of genetic risk for cancer due to mutation of gene GATA2 the same as due to mutation of gene CDKN1B? Are the implications of taking Wintergreen supplements in Testicular Germ Cell Tumors the same as Monoclonal Gammopathy of Undetermined Significance? Is it one and the same if you are on treatment with Ifosfamide or on Lenalidomide?
Wintergreen – A Nutritional Supplement
Wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens), also known as Eastern Teaberry, Checkerberry, or American wintergreen, is an aromatic herb with evergreen leaves which produces red fruits, native to North America. The leaves and fruits of this herb are edible with similar flavors to mint. The leaves and oil from Wintergreen are considered to have medicinal properties. Wintergreen oil may have aspirin like properties as it contains methyl salicylate as one of its active ingredients. Hence, its topical application may provide an analgesic effect. However, oral intake of Wintergreen oil is considered to be unsafe. 5 ml of wintergreen oil may be equivalent to around 20 adult aspirin tablets. The leaves of Wintergreen may be consumed in the form of herbal tea tea or food. Wintergreen fruits are also considered to have strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. (Piotr Michel et al, Food Funct., 2020) However, Wintergreen supplements need to be taken in the right dose to avoid any toxicity and side effects.
Wintergreen supplements may also contain many other active ingredients including Arbutin, Caffeic Acid and Ferulic Acid at different concentration levels. The molecular pathways which are regulated by Wintergreen include Oxidative Stress, Glucocorticoid Signaling, Cancer Epigenetics, FOXO Signaling and DNA Repair. 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 Wintergreen individually or in combination is an important decision to be made. When making decisions on the use of supplement Wintergreen for cancer – do consider all these factors and explanations. Because just as true for cancer treatments – Wintergreen use cannot be a one-size-fits-all decision for all types of cancers.
Choosing Wintergreen Supplements for Your Cancer
The reason there is no easy way to answer the question “When should I avoid Wintergreen for Cancer” is because “It Depends!”. Just like the same treatment does not work for every cancer patient, based on your individual context the Wintergreen 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 Wintergreen should be avoided or not and why.
1. Will Wintergreen Supplements benefit Cancer Patients with Testicular Germ Cell Tumors undergoing Ifosfamide treatment?
Testicular Germ Cell Tumors is characterized and driven by specific genetic mutations like KIT and KRAS leading to biochemical pathway changes in Oxidative Stress, DNA Repair, PI3K-AKT-MTOR Signaling, RAS-RAF Signaling and MAPK Signaling. A cancer treatment like Ifosfamide 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, Wintergreen should be avoided for Testicular Germ Cell Tumors along with treatment Ifosfamide. Wintergreen impacts pathways/processes like Oxidative Stress and DNA Repair which either promote drivers of the disease and/or nullify the treatment effect. Additionally, Wintergreen supplements contain active ingredients like Caffeic Acid which has CYP2C9, CYP2C19 and CYP3A4 (drug metabolizing enzyme) interactions with Ifosfamide treatment, and hence should be avoided by patients undergoing this treatment. (Himanshu Rastogi and Snehasis Jana, Phytother Res., 2014; Pius S Fasinu et al, Front Oncol., 2019) 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 Wintergreen Supplements benefit Monoclonal Gammopathy of Undetermined Significance Patients undergoing Lenalidomide Cancer Treatment?
Monoclonal Gammopathy of Undetermined Significance is characterized and driven by specific genetic mutations like LATS2 and ZMYM2 leading to biochemical pathway changes in Glucocorticoid Signaling, JAK-STAT Signaling, PI3K-AKT-MTOR Signaling, Hypoxia and Angiogenesis. A cancer treatment like Lenalidomide 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, Wintergreen supplements should be considered for Monoclonal Gammopathy of Undetermined Significance along with treatment Lenalidomide. Wintergreen supplement impacts pathways/processes like Glucocorticoid Signaling and JAK-STAT Signaling which either obstruct drivers of the disease and/or improve Lenalidomide treatment effect.
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3. Are Wintergreen 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, RUNX Signaling, Stem Cell Signaling, JAK-STAT Signaling and Hypoxia to get impacted. These pathways are direct or indirect drivers of cancer molecular endpoints. Wintergreen should be avoided when the genetic panel identifies mutation of GATA2 for Hematological Cancer. Wintergreen impacts pathways/processes like Cancer Epigenetics and RUNX Signaling and creates adverse effects with GATA2 and related conditions.
4. Are Wintergreen 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 FOXO Signaling, Cell Cycle Checkpoints, Stem Cell Signaling, PI3K-AKT-MTOR Signaling and Angiogenesis to get impacted. These pathways are direct or indirect drivers of cancer molecular endpoints. Consider taking Wintergreen supplement when the genetic panel identifies mutation in CDKN1B for Neuroendocrine Cancer. Wintergreen supplement impacts pathways/processes like FOXO Signaling and Cell Cycle Checkpoints 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 Wintergreen, 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.