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Can Berberine Reduce Colorectal Cancer Risk?

Jul 7, 2021

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
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A well designed clinical study has shown that treatment/use of the plant-derived natural compound Berberine in individuals who have had removal of colon adenomas (polyps) is safe with no serious side-effects and effective in reducing recurrence of colon polyps. Hence, berberine use/treatment in the right dosage may help in chemoprevention of colorectal adenoma (formation of polyps in the colon) and colorectal cancer.

With the growing aging population, the incidence of cancer is on the rise, and despite the advances and innovation in cancer treatments, the disease is able to outsmart all the treatment modalities in a large number of patients. The aggressive and targeted treatment options that help with controlling and eliminating the cancer cells also cause a lot of harsh, adverse and sometimes irreversible side-effects. Cancer patients and their loved ones are always on the lookout for using alternative natural therapy to alleviate and protect from the chemotherapy side-effects, boost immunity and well being.

Berberine Use in cancer and side-effects

Berberine and Cancer

A natural compound Berberine, found in several herbals such as Barberry, Goldenseal and others, has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for its numerous beneficial properties. Following are some of the potential health benefits of berberine:

  • May have anti-inflammatory effects
  • May have anti-bacterial properties
  • May have immune enhancing properties
  • May help regulate blood sugar
  • May help reduce bad cholesterol
  • May help with digestive and gastrointestinal issues

However, in some people, excess use of Berberine may lead to certain side effects like upset stomach, diarrhea, bloating, constipation, and headache.

The property of Berberine to regulate sugar levels, the key fuel source for a cancer cell survival, along with its anti-inflammatory and immune enhancing properties, make this plant-derived supplement a potential anti-cancer adjuvant. There have been umpteen studies in many different cancer cell lines and animal models that have confirmed the anti-cancer benefits of Berberine.

The molecular pathways which are regulated by Berberine include Oxidative Stress, TGFB Signaling, DNA Repair, Angiogenesis and Noncoding RNA 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 Berberine individually or in combination is an important decision to be made. When making decisions on the use of supplement Berberine for cancer – do consider all these factors and explanation. Because just as true for cancer treatments – Berberine use cannot be a one-size-fits-all decision for all types of cancers.

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.

Berberine Treatment/Use for Colorectal Adenoma Recurrence (Polyps in Colon – Precursors of Colon Cancer)

A recent clinical study funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China prospectively tested the use of Berberine in chemoprevention of colorectal adenoma (formation of polyps in the colon) and colorectal cancer. This randomized, blinded, placebo-controlled trial was done in 7 hospital centers across 6 provinces in China. (NCT02226185) Individuals recruited for this study had undergone removal of multiple polyps in the colon within 6 months prior to starting the study. They were randomly assigned to two groups, with 553 individuals receiving Berberine (0.3 grams, twice daily) and 555 individuals receiving a placebo tablet. Participants had to undergo follow-up colonoscopy at 1-year and 2-year timepoints post enrollment. The primary endpoint of the study was assessment of recurrence of polyps in the colon in any of the follow-up colonoscopy. (Chen Y-X et al, The Lancet gastroenterology & Hepatology, 2020)

India to New York for Cancer Treatment | Need for Personalized Nutrition-specific to Cancer

Key Findings

The finding of this study was that 155 individuals (36%) in the Berberine group had recurrent polyps while in the placebo group this number was much higher with 216 (47%) individuals having recurrent polyps (adenoma). No colorectal cancers were detected during follow-up. The most common adverse event was constipation seen in 1% of patients in the Berberine group and 0.5% in the placebo group. There were no serious adverse events reported with Berberine use.

The key take-away from this clinical study is that 0.3 grams of Berberine taken twice daily was found to be safe and effective in reducing the risk of recurrence of colorectal adenomas (polyps). Since there were no serious side-effects found in the study when taken in right dosages, use of Berberine could be a possible cancer preventive option for individuals who have had polypectomy (removal of polyps from colon).

In Conclusion

Using Berberine in people who have had removal of colon adenoma may be safe with no serious side-effects when taken in right dosage and may benefit them in reducing recurrence of colon polyps and chances of colorectal cancer. However, random use of berberine supplements by cancer patients should be avoided. Cancer patients should consult with their healthcare professionals before taking dietary supplements without scientific support, as these may interact with ongoing treatments.

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.

Scientifically Reviewed by: Dr. Cogle

Christopher R. Cogle, M.D. is a tenured professor at the University of Florida, Chief Medical Officer of Florida Medicaid, and Director of the Florida Health Policy Leadership Academy at the Bob Graham Center for Public Service.

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