Category: Tom's Earlier Blogs
Research: "Saliva - a pivotal player in the pathogenesis of oropharyngeal cancer. Reznick AZ, Hershkovich O, Nagler RM."
Br J Cancer. May 25th, 2004.
Cigarette smoke transforms healthy saliva into a deadly cocktail that can accelerate mouth cancer, according to research in the British Journal of Cancer.
Normally, saliva provides a protective buffer between toxins and the lining of the mouth because it contains important enzymes that fight and neutralise harmful substances.
But this research shows that the chemicals in tobacco smoke combine with saliva with devastating effect. They destroy the protective components of saliva, leaving a corrosive mix that damages cells in the mouth and can eventually turn them cancerous.
There are nearly 8,000 cases and 3,000 deaths from mouth cancer in the UK every year - the main cause being smoking. These figures refer to cancers of the head and neck, which include nose, mouth, lips, tongue, gums, tonsils, pharynx and larynx cancer.
The presumed connection between oropharyngeal cancer and cigarette smoke was based on the assumption that a constant direct attack of various carcinogens from cigarette smoke causes widespread accumulating cellular and DNA damage in the mucosal cells, in turn eventually resulting in malignancy. However, there is never a direct contact between cigarette smoke and the oral mucosa. Saliva covers the mucous membranes from the oral cavity to the larynx, and cigarette smoke must first interact with saliva before it reaches the mucosa.
The researchers in this study wanted to examine the role of saliva in the development of mouth cancer:
“A synergistic effect of Cigarette Smoke (CS) and saliva on oral cancer cells was demonstrated. This synergism is based on the reaction between redox active metals in saliva and low reactive free radicals in CS, which results in the production of highly active hydroxyl free radicals. Thus, when exposed to CS, salivary behavior is reversed and the saliva loses its antioxidant capacity and becomes a potent prooxidant milieu. The devastating role of CS-borne aldehydes was demonstrated as well.
“Based on these results and on our recent reports demonstrating that cigarette smoking destroys various salivary components, including protective ones such as peroxidase, the most important salivary antioxidant enzyme, a comprehensive view of the pivotal role of saliva in the pathogenesis of CS-induced oropharyngeal cancer is suggested.”
The research looked at the role of saliva in mouth cancer, but failed to take one important factor into account: salivary ABH secretor status.
Although salivary non-secretor status does not appear to be an associated risk marker for the development for oral cancer itself, being a non-secretor is a high risk factor for oral epithelial dysplasia.
Oral epithelial dysplasia is a disorder of differentiation of epithelial cells, and is likely to manifest as a solitary white patch. It is not possible to accurately predict the likely degree of dysplasia from the clinical features of such lesions, which may regress, remain stable, or progress to invasive carcinoma.
However there is also a strong link with non-secretor status and two other mouth conditions: chronic hyperplastic candidosis, where some degree of dysplasia may often be present, and also with potentially malignant oral lesions such as candidal leukoplakia, in which there is a risk of malignant change that may be greater than that of other leukoplakias.
It would perhaps be useful if future research into the role of cigarette smoking saliva and oropharyngeal cancer took secretor status into account.
The destruction of protective antioxidant substances in the saliva and the effect of other toxins in cigarette smoke are two more reasons to add to the many deterrents to smoking.
Tobacco addiction may be helped by the use of the herb Lobelia, which reduces cravings, but this should be taken under the supervision of a physician as it can be toxic in high doses. Eating oats regularly may also help, as they have sedative properties.
Vidas I, et. Al. Examining the secretor status in the saliva of patients with oral pre-cancerous lesions. J Oral Rehabil. 1999 Feb;26(2):177-82.
Lamey PJ, Douglas PS, Napier SS. Secretor status and oral cancer. Br J Oral Maxillofac Surg. 1994 Aug;32(4):214-7.
Lamey PJ, et. Al. Chronic hyperplastic candidosis and secretor status. J Oral Pathol Med. 1991 Feb;20(2):64-7.
Anand CL. Effect of Avena sativa on cigarette smoking. Nature. 1971 Oct 15;233(5320):496.
A diagnosis of breast cancer can be devastating, and the consequences of treatment can be lasting. To prevent the cancer from metastasizing (spreading), standard surgical treatment involves removing the axillary (armpit) lymph nodes on the affected side. This can cause permanent lymphoedema (fluid swelling) of the arm due to lack of lymphatic drainage.
The first regional lymph nodes draining a primary tumour are known as the sentinel lymph nodes. Sentinel node biopsy, used since 1999 is a surgical technique for predicting histological findings (microscopic examination) in the remaining lymph nodes. This can predict the outcome of the spread of the cancer.
A new technique uses a radioactive dye to find the sentinel node without removing at least 20 lymph nodes under the arm to check if the disease has spread. Only one lymph node is removed, and lymphoedema is avoided in those whose cancer is limited to the breast only.
It is better to take steps to prevent breast cancer rather than have to treat it. A non-radioactive way of detecting blood flow and drainage in the breasts (which can be altered in tumour development) is by using thermal imaging. It is important to make sure that the clinic uses the correct procedure to get a valid image.
Secretors of blood groups A and AB, and also people of blood group MM are statistically more likely to get breast cancer, and also of the kind that progresses more rapidly. Rhesus positive blood group possibly influences levels of natural killer cells, which help to defend against breast cancer.
The M antigen (from the MN blood grouping system) is a precursor of the Thomsen-Friedenreich (T) antigen, which is expressed in some types of breast cancer. The T antigen allows your immune system to recognise when a cell has become malignant. People who already have similar antigens to the T antigen are those with the A antigen (blood groups A and A and also those with the M antigen.
As many breast cancers are oestrogen-dependant, one simple way for women and men to prevent breast cancer is to avoid using underarm deodorants that contain chemicals that mimic oestrogen in the body.
Recent research shows that the preservative parabens (alkyl esters of p-hydroxybenzoid acid), used in many cosmetics, foods and medicines, is known to have œstrogen-like properties in human breast cancer cells. Some cosmetics also contain pthalate plasticisers, which are also known to have œstrogenic activity.
Some chemicals in underarm cosmetics may also bind with DNA and promote growth of these genetically damaged cells. For example, aluminium-zirconium salts form a major constituent of many underarm cosmetics. Both zirconium and aluminium-zirconium complexes have been linked to the development of granulomas (granular lymphatic tumours).
Certain foods have specific cancer-preventative actions. The natural medicine ‘TFA Plus’ helps stimulate the body’s defence against the T antigen. For more information on foods for cancer prevention see ‘Cancer – Fight it with the Blood Type Diet’
Dadamo, P. The Complete Blood Type Encyclopedia.
Darbre P. Underarm cosmetics and breast cancer. Journal of Applied Toxicology, Vol. 23, 2 , 89 – 95.
Goyal A et. al. Sentinel lymph node biopsy in patients with multifocal breast cancer. Eur J Surg Oncol. 2004 Jun;30(5):475-9.