Friday, May 9, 2008

Natural Sources for Cox-2 Inhibitors

Following up on my previous post about aspirin therapy reducing breast cancer risk, turns out there are several herbs and other foods that also contain a similar anti-inflammatory, cox-2 blocking benefit (see previous entry more on Cox-2). Edible source of cox-2 inhibitors include:

-- Red grapes: The Cox-2 inhibitor known as resveratrol is produced in the skin of red grapes, where it protects against oxidation and fungal infections. Resveratrol is found in grape juice and red wine; red Bordeaux and French Cabernets contain a particularly high concentration of the compound.

Resveratrol appears to help protect against cancer in at least three ways: It has anti-inflammatory effects, it's a powerful antioxidant, and it may prevent cancer cells from progressing to the next stage. Supplements provide about 600 mcg of resveratrol, the amount found in a glass of red wine.

-- Rosemary: This common spice also contains strong Cox-2 inhibitors. Rosemary can be used as a seasoning. It can also be consumed as a tea: Use 1 tsp. dried leaves per cup of hot water; steep for 15 minutes.

-- Turmeric and curcumin (spices found in curries and sometimes chili) contain cox-2 inhibitors.

-- Green Tea: Green tea has also been shown to inhibit the COX-2 enzyme, and it has strong antioxidant effects as well. Several population studies have indicated that green tea possesses powerful anticancer effects. Try drinking green tea daily.

-- Bee Propolis: the sticky resin collected by bees from pines and other trees, is "one of the most potent natural COX-2 inhibitors," according to Dr. Gaynor, director of medical oncology at the Strang Cancer Prevention Center in New York. I like the brand Really Raw Honey because it has a layer of propolis -- "cappings" -- at the top of every jar. If you don't want to eat it, you can buy bee propolis (typically sold as 500 mg capsules) at almost any health food store.

Is it the medicine cabinet versus the spice rack when it comes to reducing cancer risk? It can be difficult to weigh the pros and cons between pharmaceutical treatment and a natural course for health. Bottom line, everyone benefits from a healthy diet including the foods listed above. For more on inflammation and women's health, here's an article from addressing this topic.

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