- Zinc can selectively halt the growth of cancer cells in the human body
- Esophageal cancer is the sixth leading cause of human cancer deaths worldwide
- Zinc is essential for maintaining human health and also in protecting the esophagus from cancer
The proliferation of esophageal cancer cells can be inhibited with zinc supplements, reveals a new study co-authored by a scientist from the University of Texas at Arlington.
In previous studies, zinc was found to be essential for maintaining human health, which could also protect the esophagus from cancer. However, scientists have never fully understood how zinc prevents cancer in the esophagus.
‘Consuming a diet rich in zinc can prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. The foods rich in zinc are spinach, beef, pumpkin seeds flax seeds, and seafood (like shrimp and oysters).’
Zinc Can Halt the Proliferation of Cancer Cells
Zui Pan led the research team is an associate professor of nursing at UTA's College of Nursing and Health Innovation, who is noted esophageal cancer researcher.
In this study, the research team has discovered that zinc could selectively halt the growth of cancer cells. However, could not stop the normal esophageal epithelial cells.
The findings were published in The FASEB Journal,
which is the official journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology.
is the sixth leading cause of human cancer deaths worldwide, according to the National Cancer Institute.
In 2016, the institute estimated about 16,000 esophageal cancer deaths in the United States, and the average five-year survival rate was found to be less than 20 percent.
This study provides a pathway for better prevention and treatment strategies for esophageal cancer, said Pan.
Most cancer patients were found to have the zinc deficiency. Pan's study was funded in part by a research grant from the National Institutes of Health - National Cancer Insitute.
Role of Zinc in the Body
Pan said that in both clinical and animal studies it was found that zinc mineral plays a significant role in overall body health and cancer prevention.
Zinc is an essential element in many proteins and enzymes, and when zinc is not available, it becomes difficult for the cells to function, added Pan.
Pan stated, "But previously we didn't know why the same physiological concentrations of zinc inhibit cancer cell growth but not normal cells. Our study, for the first time to our knowledge, reveals that zinc impedes overactive calcium signals in cancer cells, which is absent in normal cells, and thus zinc selectively inhibits cancer cell growth."
Zinc and calcium were found to be linked, and an insufficient amount of zinc could lead to the development of cancers and various other diseases.
That is why consuming a diet rich in zinc is essential. The foods rich in zinc are spinach, beef, pumpkin seeds flax seeds, and seafood (like shrimp and oysters).
Need for Further Research
Further research is required in studying the link between the two signals, their impact on each other and how scientists can take advantage of what they know. This could help the research team in developing new and better prevention and treatment strategies, explained Pan.
Anne Bavier, who the dean of UTA's College of Nursing and Health Innovation, has called Pan's study as a classic example of UTA's commitment to high-impact research.
Bavier stated that it re-affirms the position of UTA as a major player in the global fight against cancer.
"Zui's work on esophageal cancer gets straight to the heart our goal at the College of Nursing and Health Innovation to help solve health problems to build a healthier world," explained Bavier.
What is Cancer?
Cancer is a group of diseases that are involved in abnormal cell growth. These cells have the potential to invade and spread to other parts of the body.
Not all of them are cancerous. Some tumors do not spread to the other parts of the body, like benign tumors.
The signs and symptoms which could be seen are a lump, prolonged cough, unexplained weight loss, abnormal bleeding, and changes in bowel movements.
There are over 100 types of cancers that affect humans. Most cancers like lung cancer which starts in the lung, breast cancer which begins in the breast and so on are all named from where they start.
Depending on the type of cancer and how advanced it is, the symptoms and treatment vary.
Most of the treatments include surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. Some may involve hormone therapy, immunotherapy or other types of biologic therapy, or stem cell transplantation.