The term cancer broadly defines a group of related disorders. In this condition the body cells divide unproliferatively and spread to the surrounding tissues.
The site at which it may begin can be at any of the trillions of cells within the human body and can damage organs depending on its extent. Under normal conditions cell division and multiplication takes place in a highly systematic manner.
However, in case of cancer this order is disturbed. As the cell properties change cells do not die at an appropriate time and new cells are formed too early. Cells formed as a result of such uncontrolled growth are also not specialised. As this progresses structures known as tumours are formed.
Tumours can develop as solid masses or as cancers in the blood. Based on their nature they can be classified as benign or malignant.
Benign tumours do not invade nearby tissues unlike malignant tumours which spread to surrounding cells. Malignant tumours can also travel to distant organs by means of the bloodstream or lymphatic system.
Contrary to malignant tumours, benign tumours do not grow back when removed. However, benign tumours in the brain could be fatal.
Cancer is believed to arise mostly due to the contribution of genetic factors. When mutations occur, the functional mechanisms of proto-oncogenes, tumour suppressor genes and DNA repair genes, all genes responsible for regulating cell division signals and fixing damaged DNA, break down.
Cancer occurs when an individual with predisposition to cancer causing genes is exposed to environmental risks such as chemicals in tobacco smoke, radiation and ultraviolet rays from the sun. These leads to a series of genetic changes in the body that are known as the ‘drivers of cancer’.
Cancers are of several types depending on the organs in which they occur. They can be categorised into: Carcinomas (epithelial cells), Sarcomas (bones and soft tissues), Leukaemia (blood and bone marrow), Lymphomas (originating at the B and T cells), Myelomas (plasma cells), Melanomas (skin cancer) and brain and spinal cord tumours. Other types include tumours forming in the germ cells and those obstructing hormones.
Table of Contents
- What is Argan oil?
- 7 Proven Benefits of Argan oil in Cancer
- 1. It benefits in skin cancer: melanoma
- 2.It boosts antioxidant defences
- 3. Triterpenoids found in argan oil reduce tumor growth
- 4. Argan oil has anti-proliferative activity
- 5. Argan oil provides essential nutrients that benefit in cancer
- 6. It exerts anti-inflammatory effects
- 7. It protects from carcinogens
- Dosage of Argan Oil In Cancer
What is Argan oil?
For centuries, the natives of Morocco have used Argan oil, a unique oil obtained from the kernels of Argan trees, for its healing properties. This oil, being endemic to Morocco is one of the country’s natural treasures.
Cold pressing of the kernels is the means used to extract the oil. This is followed by solvent assisted extraction. It is highly nutritious, so much so that goat’s used to climb trees to eat it. This may be the reason it is often called ‘liquid gold’.
Recent scientific studies have been indicative of potential benefits of Argan oil as an anti- cancer agent. This is believed to be due to the fact that the oil is laden with antioxidant compounds such as polyphenols, sterols, tocopherols, squalene, titerpene and alcohols.
The oil also possesses notable anti-inflammatory properties. These factors effectively regulate the metabolic markers controlling cancer.
7 Proven Benefits of Argan oil in Cancer
This ‘golden oil’ has an excellent nutrient profile. The natural ingredients present in the oil have impressive healing properties. Some of these active constituents are Tocopherols, Squalene, Carotenes, Sterols and Phenolic antioxidants.
Increasing scientific evidence is indicative of its ability to reduce the risk of various types of cancers along with reversing their effects.
The antioxidant compounds present the oil have the ability to decelerate the rate of cell division and fix cell damage, all contributors to cancer occurrence. Some of the benefits of the oil in treatment of various types of cancers have been listed as follows:
1. It benefits in skin cancer: melanoma
Melanoma is a condition where the cells involved in providing pigmentation to the skin become cancerous. Experiments have been conducted to assess the activity of the nutrients in Argan oil on the enzymes responsible for pigmentation.
Melanoma affected cells were treated with varying dosages of the oil. It was seen that pigmentation was altered depending on the concentration of oil administered.
It worked by blocking the proteins responsible for the transcription of melanogenic (melanin producing) enzymes. Namely, tyrosinase (TYR), tyrosinase-related protein 1 (TRP1), and dopachrometautomerase (DCT) proteins.
What does this mean?
Since the major and minor nutrients in Argan oil combined to decrease the concentrations of over pigmentation enzymes, the oil has the potential to be useful in melanoma therapeutics and can be used for treatment of several pigmentation disorders.
2.It boosts antioxidant defences
Antioxidants are molecules whose chief function is to fight against toxic free radicles found in the body.
These free radicals are responsible for altering cell dynamics and inducing damage leading to cancer. Without the presence of antioxidants, the free radicals travel throughout the body harming organs in the process.
Efforts to understand the levels and abilities of the antioxidant compounds in Argan oil have delivered positive outcomes. When compared with similar organic oils such as olive oil and sunflower oil, the tocopherol concentrations in Argan oil is much superior.
Coupled with compounds like squalene and oleic acid, Argan oil repairs damage to cells and deters free radical accumulation.
What does this mean?
Argan oil is rich in antioxidant compounds that prevent and reverse damage to cells by obliterating harmful free radicals. These compounds are believed to be responsible for the oil’s unique chemotherapeutic abilities.
3. Triterpenoids found in argan oil reduce tumor growth
Argan oil contains compounds called Triterpenoids. Triterpenoids are phytochemicals also commonly referred to as isoprenoids. These are secondary metabolites.
These metabolites are known to be toxic to tumour growth and therefore restrictive to cancer development. Therapeutic agents derived from a variety of sources are currently under clinical trial assessments.
It has shown promise in chemotherapeutics of breast cancer, gastrointestinal cancer and is most largely used for liver cancer treatment. These results were validated by experiments carried out on animal models. They have shown the ability to regulate molecular mechanisms both in-vivo and in-vitro.
What does this mean?
The plant phytochemicals present in Argan oil possess anti tumor properties They monitor cell damage and multiplication and are therefore useful in cancer therapy.
4. Argan oil has anti-proliferative activity
Argan oil consists of organic compounds such as polyphenols, tocopherols and sterols. Each of these compounds act on different cell lines. It also inhibits enzymes responsible for cancer formation. These results have been seen in research carried out in vitro on hormone dependent as well as hormone independent cell lines.
Recent medical research has shown that micro nutrients such as sterols and polyphenols in Argan oil possess significant chemo preventive activity. This has been studied in prostate cancer models. These cells regulate internal growth factors in cancer cells. Their growth and division get retarded.
Although these plant sterols and polyphenols are present in Argan oil in very low quantities, they are highly potent. By regularly monitoring cell division,these compounds show great promise in treatment of several other types of cancers.
What does it mean?
The consumption of dietary Argan oil provides organic compounds to act on cell signals within the body and prevent release of enzymes responsible for cancer development. This strong anti-proliferative activity imparts cancer preventive properties to the oil.
5. Argan oil provides essential nutrients that benefit in cancer
The chemopreventive properties of Argan oil can be attributed to its unique nutrient profile. The components in it have the ability to retard cancerous growths.
The active ingredients include tocopherols, squalene, carotenes, sterols and phenolic antioxidants. These components act together and show an anti-proliferative activity and therefore eliminate malignant cells.
This property has been studied mostly on bladder cancer and prostate cancer models.
What does it mean?
The myriad of nutrients in Argan oil have the ability to combat cancer by preventing the growth of malignant cells and therefore provides a natural remedy to delay the onset of cancer.
6. It exerts anti-inflammatory effects
Argan oil is rich in the plant nutrient Flavonoids. Flavonoids are another category of secondary metabolites.
Several epidemiological and pre-clinical studies conducted on flavonoids in Argan oil have shown potential in treatment of breast, colon, lung, prostate, and pancreas related cancers.
Flavonoids can be subdivided into further classes which are flavonols, flavones, flavanones, flavan-3-ols, anthocyanidins, and isoflavones. Each of these restrict mechanisms involved in tumor formation.
What does this mean?
Flavonoids, which are key components of Argan oil, block proliferation, inflammation and metastasis while promoting apoptosis (programme cell death). Thereby reducing tumors and cancerous growths in the body.
7. It protects from carcinogens
Environmental factors such as exposure to UV radiation, chemicals from tobacco smoke or other carcinogens rare responsible for tumour development. They mutate cells which are genetically predisposed to cancer by activating the ‘drivers of cancer’.
However, it has been seen that application and administration of Argan oil regularly fixes the damage caused to cell by over exposure to carcinogens and also promotes regeneration of healthy cells.
Administration of Argan oil has shown the capability to modulate the metabolic markers responsible for expression of cancer oncogenes. Most tumour promoting enzymes get activated on exposure to carcinogenic (cancer causing) substances and stress.
A study conducted in an animal model for a period of 13 weeks showed that consumption of Argan oil (10ml/kgday) effectively reduced the sensitivity of the enzyme producing cells to environmental factors.
What does this mean?
Components in Argan oil block the pathways that trigger mutations in cells. Therefore, they reduce risk to tumours and other cancerous growths throughout the body.
This chemotherapeutic ability can be attributed to the oil’s unique biochemical profile which includes high-fat oleic and linoleic acids content.
Dosage of Argan Oil In Cancer
The recommended therapeutic dosage in order to stabilise metabolic activity lies between 15-30 g (1-2 tablespoons) uncooked argan oil per day. The maintenance dosage ranges from 3-6 g daily.
It can be used as a dressing in salads, dips for bread or sprinkled on regular pasta or rice. Argan oil is not suitable for prolonged frying but is apt for short-time frying. It provides a distinctive nutty flavour and enhances the taste of food.
Through centuries of use in Morocco, Argan oil has not shown any acute or chronic toxicity levels. However, there are a couple of allergic reaction cases (anaphylaxis) that have been reported.
The studies on the molecular mechanisms involved in the cancer preventive effects of Argan oil are vaguely understood and need to be validated by further research and analysis. It is therefore advisable to consult a medical professional before introducing the oil in your regular health regimen.
The benefits of Argan oil use in cancer treatment are extensive. Its use is highly recommended by dieticians and nutritionists globally.
Its demand is reaching sky rocketing levels and is a source of towering financial revenue for small cooperatives in Morocco.
Dietary inclusion of argan oil can serve as chemopreventive agent and also improve antioxidant defence. Argan oil’s anti-tumor properties can benefit in various cancerous conditions.
More research should be directed towards anti-cancer property of argan oil.