Daily Champion (Lagos)

18 April 2010

Nigeria: How Plants' Anti-Oxidants Reduce Spread of Prostrate Cancer

Lagos — Anti-oxidants are substances that may protect cells from the damage caused by unstable molecules known as free radicals. Free radical damage may lead to cancer. Antioxidants interact with and stabilize free radicals and may prevent some of the damage free radicals might otherwise cause. Examples of anti-oxidants include beta-carotene, lycopene, Vitamins C, E, and A and other substances.

Researchers have shown in recent studies that men with prostrate cancer who consumed the active compounds (antioxidants) in green tea have demonstrated a significant reduction in serum markers predictive of prostrate cancer reduction.

Green tea is the second most popular drink in the world and studies have shown health benefits including a reduced incidence for prostate cancer.

Considerable laboratory evidence from chemical, cell culture, and animal studies indicates that antioxidants may slow or possibly prevent the development of cancer. However, information from recent clinical trials is less clear. In recent years, large-scale, randomized clinical trials reached inconsistent conclusions.

Anti-oxidants neutralize free radicals as the natural by-products of normal cell processes. Free radicals are molecules with incomplete electron shells which make them more chemically reactive than those with complete electron shells. Exposure to various environmental factors, including tobacco smoke and radiation, can also lead to free radical formation. In humans, the most common form of free radicals is oxygen. When an oxygen molecule (O2) becomes electrically charged or "radicalized" it tries to steal electrons from other molecules, causing damage to the DNA and other molecules. Over time, such damage may become irreversible and lead to disease including cancer. Antioxidants are often described as "mopping up" free radicals, meaning they neutralize the electrical charge and prevent the free radical from taking electrons from other molecules.

Anti-oxidants are abundant in fruits and vegetables, as well as in other foods including nuts, grains, and some meats, poultry, and fish. The list below describes food sources of common antioxidants.

Until now, Nigerian studies and folklore have shown that plants could be used as a "cure all" (Gbogbonse in Yoruba and Ogwonnuoria in Igbo) because they are rich in antioxidants. They have been used in treating conditions such as headache, pains, diarrhea, menstrual problems, veneral diseases, infertility and cancer among others.

Associate professor, Olukemi A. Odukoya, a leading Nigerian researcher on antioxidant activity on Nigerian plants of the department of pharmacognosy, Faculty of pharmacy, college of Medicine, University of Lagos told the correspondent in a recent interview that Nigerian plants were rich in antioxidants.

Odukoya examined the antioxidant activity of Nigerian dietary spices and provided evidence to support the acclaimed role of plants as aphrodisiacs in traditional medicine. An aphrodisiac is a food, drink, drug, scent or device that can arouse or increase sexual activity or libido.

Procin-x, a Nigerian made drug for prostrate enlargement, has shown great promise in relieving the symptoms of prostrate enlargement and even preventing prostrate cancer.

The herbal preparation was developed by Dr. Matthew O. Origbo, of the supreme Ormed Option Limited, Sapele, Delta state. Origbo, a British-trained surveyor, was a former president of the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA).

Origbo said that the drug possesses anti-inflammatory and antibiotic properties. It achieves full recovery in most cases. For men over 40 years old, it is an active preventive therapy. It makes unnecessary, dangerous and expensive surgical operations and is an effective treatment for a wide spectrum of stubborn infections. It is a cure for prostrate enlargement and with all due respect for the medical field, this is an area where there is still a lot of ignorance with regards to prostate enlargement.

Plant foods such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains contain many components that are beneficial to human health.

Beta-carotene is found in many foods that are orange in color, including sweet potatoes, carrots, cantaloupe, squash, apricots, pumpkin, and mangos. Some green, leafy vegetables, including collard greens, spinach, and kale, are also rich in beta-carotene.

Lutein, best known for its association with healthy eyes, is abundant in green, leafy vegetables such as collard greens, spinach, and kale.

Lycopene is a potent antioxidant found in tomatoes, watermelon, guava, papaya, apricots, pink grapefruit, blood oranges, and other foods.

Selenium is a mineral, not an antioxidant nutrient. However, it is a component of antioxidant enzymes. Plant foods like rice and wheat are the major dietary sources of selenium in most countries. The amount of selenium in soil, which varies by region, determines the amount of selenium in the foods grown in that soil. Animals that eat grains or plants grown in selenium-rich soil have higher levels of selenium in their muscle.

Vitamin A is found in three main forms: retinol (Vitamin A1), 3, 4-didehydroretinol (Vitamin A2), and 3-hydroxy-retinol (Vitamin A3). Foods rich in vitamin A include liver, sweet potatoes, carrots, milk, egg yolks, and mozzarella cheese.

Vitamin C is also called ascorbic acid, and can be found in high abundance in many fruits and vegetables and is also found in cereals, beef, poultry, and fish.

Vitamin E, also known as alpha-tocopherol, is found in almonds, in many oils including wheat germ, safflower, corn, and soybean oils, and is also found in mangos, nuts, broccoli, and other foods.

Pharmaton has also developed seresis- an optimal dietary supplement containing antioxidants such as vitamin C and E. seresis in clinical trials has shown to help maintain a good level of vitamins and antioxidants in the whole body and thus intended to help prevent or delay cell damages deriving from free-radical formation. It offers a valid protection from environmental stress, thereby helping prevent premature ageing and to preserve a radiant skin.

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