Biomedical Updates


Mastic Gum and Cancer

Mastic gum, derived from the plant Pistacia lentiscus L. variation chia, has been shown to produce beneficial effects for a wide range of human disorders. These include protection against gastrointestinal malfunctions and bacterial infections. Significant evidence also suggests that mastic gum exhibits liver protective, heart protective, anti-inflammatory/antioxidant, and anti­atherogenic properties. Atherogenesis is the accumulation of lipid containing plaques on the innermost layers of the arteries.

In recent years, there have been an increasing number of studies that have evaluated the potential antiproliferative properties of mastic gum against several types of human neoplasia (abnormal masses of tissue). Essentially, there are three types of neoplasms: benign, pre-malignant (carcinoma in situ), and malignant (cancer).

In a new study from the Department of Forensic Medicine and Toxicology, Medical School, University of Athens, Greece, the current data concerning the anticancer activities of mastic gum and its major compounds has been reviewed.1 The study highlights the molecular mechanisms through which the active compounds of mastic gum exert anticancer functions. Constituents belonging to the chemical class of triterpenoids are thought to be responsible for its anticancer potential for the most part. The potential activities of mastic’s constituents are:

  • Suppression of NF-κB (nuclear factor kappa-Beta), a protein complex that controls the transcription of DNA. The incorrect regulation of NF-κB has been linked to cancer.

  • Suppression of the JAK-STAT signaling pathways. (JAK is short for Janus Kinase, and STAT is short for Signal Transducer and Activator of Transcription.) This pathway is of fundamental importance in cancer cell proliferation.

  • Inhibition of VEGF (vascular endothelial growth factor), a signal protein that stimulates the growth of blood vessels that feed solid cancers. Without an adequate blood supply, these cancers cannot grow.

  • Depletion of glutathione (GSH). Deficiencies of GSH are associated with prostate and other cancers.

In summary, studies have revealed that mastic gum may provide anticancer activity in several types of human neoplasia, including prostate, colon, lung, and pancreatic carcinoma and hematological malignancies. Taking the available data into consideration, mastic gum contains a cornucopia of effective anticancer nutrients.

Reference

  1. Giaginis C, Theocharis S. Current evidence on the anticancer potential of chios mastic gum. Nutr Cancer 2011 Nov;63(8):1174-84.

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