Nutritional supplements like Kava 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 Kava 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 Kava supplements can benefit cancer patients with Cervical Squamous Cell Carcinoma on Topotecan treatment. But avoid Kava supplements if on Ruxolitinib treatment for Myeloproliferative Neoplasms. Similarly, taking nutritional supplement Kava can benefit healthy individuals who are at genetic risk of cancer due to mutation of gene CDKN2A. But avoid taking nutritional supplement Kava 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 Kava 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 the molecular level – hence choose the right combination of supplements like Kava based on individual context and conditions.
So the question is should you take the supplement Kava? 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 CDKN2A? Should you take it when diagnosed with Myeloproliferative Neoplasms? Should you take Kava supplements when diagnosed with Cervical Squamous Cell Carcinoma? Should you take it when on Ruxolitinib treatment? Should you continue taking Kava supplements if you change your treatment from Ruxolitinib to Topotecan? So a general explanation like – it is natural or it increases immunity may not be acceptable and sufficient for choosing Kava.
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 Cervical Squamous Cell Carcinoma, 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 Kava.
So the question is that are all genetic mutation risks and types of cancers to be considered as one when deciding the use of Kava? Are the biochemical pathway implications of genetic risk for cancer due to mutation of gene PALB2 the same as due to mutation of gene CDKN2A? Are the implications of taking Kava supplements in Myeloproliferative Neoplasms the same as Cervical Squamous Cell Carcinoma? Is it one and the same if you are on treatment Ruxolitinib or on Topotecan?
Kava – A Nutritional Supplement
Kava or Piper methysticum is an evergreen shrub, native to the Pacific Islands. Kava has heart-shaped leaves. It is available in the form of capsules, tea and liquid extract. Following are some of the potential health benefits of Kava:
- May have anti inflammatory and anticancer potential (Tengfei Bian et al, Nutrients., 2020)
- May help reduce anxiety (M H Pittler and E Ernst, Cochrane Database Syst Rev., 2003)
- May help reduce insomnia (David Wheatle, Hum Psychopharmacol., 2001)
Kava supplements contain many active ingredients including Flavokawain B and Kavain at different concentration levels. The molecular pathways which are regulated by Kava include Cell Cycle Checkpoints, Endoplasmic Reticulum Stress, PI3K-AKT-MTOR Signaling, Estrogen Signaling and P53 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 Kava individually or in combination is an important decision to be made. When making decisions on the use of supplement Kava for cancer – do consider all these factors and explanations. Because just as true for cancer treatments – Kava use cannot be a one-size-fits-all decision for all types of cancers.
Choosing Kava Supplements for Your Cancer
The reason there is no easy way to answer the question “When should I avoid Kava for Cancer” is because “It Depends!”. Just like the same treatment does not work for every cancer patient, based on your individual context the Kava 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 Kava should be avoided or not and why.
1. Will Kava Supplements benefit Cancer Patients with Myeloproliferative Neoplasms undergoing Ruxolitinib treatment?
Myeloproliferative Neoplasms is characterized and driven by specific genetic mutations like JAK2 and CALR leading to specific biochemical pathway changes. A cancer treatment like Ruxolitinib 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, Kava should be avoided for Myeloproliferative Neoplasms along with treatment Ruxolitinib. Kava impacts specific pathways which either promote drivers of the disease and/or nullify the treatment effect. 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 Kava Supplements benefit Cancer Patients with Cervical Squamous Cell Carcinoma undergoing Topotecan Treatment?
Cervical Squamous Cell Carcinoma is characterized and driven by specific genetic mutations like PIK3CA and MUC4 leading to biochemical pathway changes in Cell Cycle Checkpoints, PI3K-AKT-MTOR Signaling, P53 Signaling, Small Molecule Transport and MAPK Signaling. A cancer treatment like Topotecan 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, Kava supplements should be considered for Cervical Squamous Cell Carcinoma along with treatment Topotecan. Kava supplement impacts pathways/processes like Cell Cycle Checkpoints and PI3K-AKT-MTOR Signaling which either obstruct drivers of Cervical Squamous Cell Carcinoma and/or improve Topotecan 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 Kava 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 Endoplasmic Reticulum Stress, Estrogen Signaling, Stem Cell Signaling, Growth Factor Signaling and Angiogenesis to get impacted. These pathways are direct or indirect drivers of cancer molecular endpoints. Kava should be avoided when the genetic panel identifies mutation of PALB2 for Breast Cancer and Kidney Cancer. Kava impacts pathways/processes like Endoplasmic Reticulum Stress and Estrogen Signaling and creates adverse effects with PALB2 and related conditions.
4. Are Kava Supplements Safe for Healthy Individuals with CDKN2A Mutation Associated Genetic Risk?
CDKN2A is one of the genes available in panels for cancer risk testing. CDKN2A mutation causes biochemical pathways/processes like Cell Cycle Checkpoints, P53 Signaling, Stem Cell Signaling, Angiogenesis and DNA Repair to get impacted. These pathways are direct or indirect drivers of cancer molecular endpoints. Consider taking Kava supplements when the genetic panel identifies mutation in CDKN2A for Skin Cancer and Head And Neck Squamous Cell Carcinoma. Kava impacts pathways/processes like Cell Cycle Checkpoints and P53 Signaling and creates a supportive effect in those with CDKN2A 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 Kava, 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.