Study finds that a traditional Chinese medicine is effective at treating liver cancer
Conventional treatments for cancer, such as chemotherapy and radiation, are known for targeting even healthy cells. The damage induced on healthy cells by non-selective targeting these cancer treatments lead to side effects like diarrhea, anemia, infertility, mood changes, and weight loss. To avoid these side effects, people are now turning to traditional medicine for potential cancer treatments. One study, which was published in the Journal of Evidence-Based Integrative Medicine, revealed that the traditional Chinese formulation known as Qingjie Fuzheng has anticancer activity.
Liver cancer is one of the leading causes of cancer death in both men and women. High mortality rates of liver cancer can be attributed to its poor prognosis since it’s difficult to treat it once it has already spread to other organs. Similar to other types of cancer, liver cancer is usually treated using chemotherapy or radiation. However, as previously mentioned, these types of therapy cause adverse side effects.
One alternative treatment for liver cancer is Qingjie Fuzheng. This traditional Chinese formulation is composed of four different herbs, namely: Hedyotis diffusa, malt, astragalus, and Scutellaria barbata. Aside from its anticancer activity, Qingjie Fuzheng also has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antibacterial activities. Although it is already used as an alternative cancer treatment, none of the previous studies conducted on it have determined the mechanism behind its anticancer activity.
A study conducted by researchers from Fujian University of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Fujian Medical University was the first to identify the underlying mechanism behind Qingjie Fuzheng’s anticancer activity. The researchers were able to determine this using cell culture and animal model experiments. For the cell culture, the researchers made use of human and mice hepatocellular carcinoma cells since hepatocellular carcinoma is the most common type of liver cancer. Upon treatment of the cells with Qingjie Fuzheng, they were able to observe reduced cell viability, showing that Qingjie Fuzheng does have anticancer activity.
To further establish the anticancer activity of Qingjie Fuzheng, the researchers used a hepatocellular carcinoma mouse xenograft model. They subjected the mice to Qingjie Fuzheng treatment for a period of seven days before removing the tumor and analyzing it for cell density, colony formation, apoptosis, and protein expression.
Tumor analysis revealed that Qingjie Fuzheng effectively reduced tumor weight without affecting body weight, signifying that the treatment is cytotoxic against cancer cells only. In addition to this, the number of cancer cells in the tumor was significantly reduced since many of them were induced to undergo apoptosis. The results also revealed that apoptosis of the cancer cells followed either the extrinsic or intrinsic pathways, which involve death receptors and the mitochondria, respectively. This was determined based on the expression of proteins involved in both pathways.
Overall, the results of this study prove that Qingjie Fuzheng can be used as an alternative cancer treatment since it is able to specifically target cancer cells and cause them to undergo death receptor or mitochondria-dependent apoptosis. With the discovery of an alternative cancer treatment, high mortality rates of liver cancer can be reduced.
Risk factors for liver cancer
Since prognosis of liver cancer can be difficult, it is important for people who are at risk to be vigilant and to take better care of their health. Risk factors for liver cancer include the following:
– Type 2 diabetes
– Excessive alcohol consumption
– Liver cirrhosis
– Exposure to aflatoxins
February 2, 2020