10 Benefits of Cocoa For Cancer

Cancer is a disorder which is characterized by the abnormal growth of cells. This may be due to cancer causing agents or some genetic factors. These cancerous cells can spread to other parts of the body and begin the growth of

These cancerous cells can spread to other parts of the body and begin the growth of a new cancer there. These types of cancers are malignant tumors.

What are the main types of cancers?

Cancer can affect almost every part of the body. Cancers can be mainly classified into:

  • Sarcoma – These are derived from the outermost layer of the body surface known as epithelial cells. This includes cancers of the lungs, prostate, breast, colon, and pancreas.
  • Carcinoma –These are developed from the connective tissue, which is the tissue that connects or supports other tissues and organs. This mainly includes cancers of the bones and nerves among others.
  • Leukemia –These are derived from the blood developing cells of the body. It refers to cancer of the white blood cells.

Curing cancer is a very difficult and uncertain task. Various medicines and alternate therapies are tried. There is no sure shot way of curing all types of cancers yet.

What Is Cocoa and Its Benefits?

Cocoa is the fruit of the cocoa tree. The scientific name of this tree is Theobroma cocoa, which literally means “food of the Gods”. The cocoa tree is a small evergreen tree initially found in central and South America.

The cocoa beans are prepared by roasting the cocoa seeds and then grinding them in a process known as processing.

Apart from cocoa powder, cocoa butter is another substance extracted from the cocoa beans. It is used for the manufacture of chocolates and in cosmetic industry.

Cocoa has a number of health benefits. These include:

  • It helps in reducing cardiovascular risk or the chances of getting a heart disease as it lowers the blood pressure.
  • It improves glucose metabolism and the production of insulin. This is essential for controlling diabetes.
  • The extracts of cocoa may heal various infections by killing bacteria and treating wounds.
  • Cocoa is good for skin. It moisturises the skin and keeps it healthy, decreasing the chances of skin diseases.
  • The most important benefit of cocoa is in the culinary world. It is mainly used to make chocolates.

How Is Cocoa Beneficial For Cancer?

Cocoa can be used to prevent or treat cancer as well. Some of the properties of cocoa which are beneficial in the case of cancer are:

1. Antioxidants prevent oxidation of cell components

Antioxidants are substances which prevent or stop oxidation of various products. Oxidation is a process which involves addition of oxygen molecules to the product. This is carried out by oxidising agents.

Oxidising agents may be harmful for the body in some cases. Free radicals damage the components of a cell, including the DNA, and lead to the development of cancer. Antioxidants combine with these free radicals and prevent them from causing any harm to the body.

Cocoa contains a high antioxidant activity which makes it beneficial for improving health.

Research studies have shown that antioxidants do not interfere with cancer treatment and does not affect chemotherapy or radiations in a negative way. In fact, they have been found to reduce the adverse effects of cancer medications.

Antioxidants decrease the side effects of cancer therapy. They are beneficial in cancer of various different types. However, some types of cancers are an exception.

However, some types of cancers are an exception.

What does this mean?
Antioxidants are present in significant amounts in cocoa. They prevent the various cell components such as DNA from getting oxidised. Oxidation of nucleic acids such as DNA may lead to the development of cancer. Hence, antioxidants are important for prevention of cancer.

2. Anti-depressant property of endorphins

Depression is a major symptom of cancer. Reports of cancer patients show that almost every patient suffers from anxiety and depression at some point of their lives.

Cocoa is linked with an improved mood usually in the form of chocolates. They make people feel better when sad or depressed.

This is mainly because cocoa interacts with the neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters are chemicals present in the brain which help in transmission of a signal from brain to the body.

Endorphins are one such type of neurotransmitters. They include hormones which are secreted by the brain.

Endorphins are believed to lift the mood by interacting and blocking the receptors in brain which are responsible for the perception of pain and depression.

Cocoa initiates the release of the hormone endorphins. Beta- phenylethylalanine is a molecule present in cocoa, mainly chocolates, which initiates the release of endorphins.

What does this mean?
When a person suffers from cancer, it is very common for them to feel depressed and sad due to their health condition. Consuming cocoa releases endorphins which are the feel-good hormones of the body. They help in making cancer patients happy and cheerful.

3. Polyphenols control the abnormal cell growth

Polyphenols are naturally occurring phytochemicals present in plant products. They can be commonly found in coffee, chocolate, tea, fruits and vegetables. They are an integral part of our diet because they contain antioxidants. Due to these antioxidants, polyphenols show a protective role on the body.

Due to these antioxidants, polyphenols show a protective role on the body.

Research and studies have found that polyphenols affect the cell growth in cancer. They help to control the abnormal cell growth by interacting with the mechanisms of a cell. It does so by changing the structure of cell membrane of these abnormal cells. It is responsible for interfering with the production of enzymes responsible for inducing tumour growth and malignancy. Another effect of polyphenols is on the nucleic acids including DNA.

It is responsible for interfering with the production of enzymes responsible for inducing tumour growth and malignancy. Another effect of polyphenols is on the nucleic acids including DNA.

It is responsible for interfering with the production of enzymes responsible for inducing tumour growth and malignancy. Another effect of polyphenols is on the nucleic acids including DNA.

What does this mean?
The chemical compounds present in cocoa such as polyphenols keep the abnormal cell growth in check. In addition to this, polyphenols inhibit the production of tumour-inducing enzymes in the body. All these factors contribute to the prevention and treatment of cancer.

4. Flavonoids boost the immune system

Flavonoids are chemical compounds found in almost every plant. They help the plant in carrying out several important functions of the plant body. They are responsible for plant and floral pigmentation, symbiotic nitrogen fixation and they also protect the plant from disease causing microorganisms.

TNF stands for tumour necrosis factor. It is a cytokine which is a protein secreted by the immune system of the body. Apart from inducing inflammation, it plays an important role in cancer cell growth.

This happens because of the properties of TNF, including proliferation of cell, invasion and metastatic growth (malignancy).

The flavonoids present in cocoa reduce the production of tumour necrosis factor (TNF). This improves the immune system and controls the abnormal cell growth.

What does this mean?
The flavonoids in cocoa decrease the number of TNF (tumour necrosis factor) molecules. TNF is responsible for initiating growth of cancer cells and spreading those cells to various body parts. Since TNF is a part of the immune system, cocoa keeps the immune system healthy.

5. Copper oxidises the RBCs which increase the production of energy

Cocoa contains several minerals, copper being one of them. Copper is an element which is essential for a good health. However, there is an optimum amount up to which the copper concentration is healthy, exceeding which leads to the growth and development of various diseases such as cancer.

When there is an abnormal increase in the level of copper ions in the body, they enter the cells and oxidise them, which causes severe damage to the proteins, DNA and the cell membrane. This damage leads to the development of cancer and tumours in various parts of the body.

However, recent studies have shown that copper coordination complexes may act as anti-cancer agents. When excess copper is forced into the cells, molecules known as copper ionophores are developed.

They help in maintaining a channel for transportation of ions across the lipid membrane. These ionophores have anticancer properties.

What does this mean?
Cocoa contains a number of minerals such as calcium, zinc, sodium, potassium, magnesium and copper. An optimum level of copper is required for the healthy functioning of the body. Cocoa provides copper which lead to the production of ionophores which have anticancer properties.

6. Balanced amount of magnesium is important

Magnesium is another mineral cocoa contains. Magnesium and cancer are related in a complex manner. The presence of magnesium in the body is vital for prevention of cancer.

Studies have reported that an imbalance of magnesium level in the body can be a risk factor in causing different types of cancers. Low magnesium level can also interfere with the anti-cancer drugs and cause further harm to the body.

However, more research is needed to confirm the optimum amount of magnesium required in the prevention and treatment of cancer. The link between magnesium intake and cancer prevention is very complex, hence it is unclear.

What does this mean?
Another mineral which helps in the prevention of cancer after copper is magnesium. Just like copper, a certain amount of magnesium is very important. The magnesium levels should neither be higher or lower than this amount. A low amount of this mineral may cause the anticancer drugs to not show their effect properly.

7. The anti-cancer property of cocoa has been proven in many cancer types

A study was conducted to observe the effects of cocoa extracts on ovarian cancer cell lines. It was found that cocoa is beneficial in treating ovarian cancer due to its anticancer properties.

The study concluded that cocoa polyphenols such as catechins and procyanidins are toxic to the cancer cells. They cause cancer cell death and reduce the damage to DNA and normal cells.

MMPs or Matrix metalloproteinases are enzymes which are responsible for the abnormal cell growth and proliferation. Consumption of cocoa leads to a decrease in their number.

Cocoa bean extracts have also found to be useful in destroying the cancer cells. After using an MTT assay (a test for determining the metabolic activity of cells), it was observed that cocoa increased the number of cell deaths in cancer cells.

These are cells which are programmed to die as they are either not required or cause damage to the body. When this happens, the cancer cells start dying and the disease is treated. This was observed in a study done in lung cancer cells.

Cancer therapy involves various medications for different types of cancers. A research was conducted to see if cocoa bean extracts show any effect on improving the efficacy of the therapy on breast cancer. It was seen that tamoxifen, a drug used for the treatment of breast cancer, showed better results when combined with the polyphenols of cocoa.

The results of another study on prostate cancer proved that cocoa polyphenols inhibit the growth and proliferation of cancer cells. However, it does not show any effect on the normal cells.

Theobromine is an alkaloid present in the cocoa plant. This chemical compound contains anti-inflammatory and anticancer properties which inhibit phosphodiesterase, an enzyme responsible for the growth of tumours, mainly glioblastoma.

What does this mean?
Studies have been conducted on various types of cancer cell lines and they reveal that the chemical compounds present in cocoa have anticancer properties.

8. Cocoa prevents cancer

A diet consisting of dark chocolates has been found to be healthy and beneficial for treating colon cancer. According to an animal study, consumption of chocolate containing polyphenols decreases the cell growth and controls the gene expression responsible for inflammation.

Another study showed that proanthocyanidins of cocoa helped in reducing the multiplication of cancer cells of the lungs.

Chocolate containing high amounts of flavanol than normal chocolates can prevent the development of cancerous cells. This was observed in an animal model of prostate cancer.

Basically, the main functions of cocoa polyphenols include initiation of apoptosis (cell death) and inhibition of tumorous cell proliferation along with metastasis.

What does this mean?
A healthy cocoa diet consisting of regular small amount of dark chocolate decreases cancer cell growth and malignancy and eventually destroys those cells.

9. Cocoa proteins show anti-tumour activity

Along with the minerals and other chemical compounds, cocoa is rich in proteins such as albumins, globulins and glutelins among others.

In dried and semi-fermented cocoa, it was observed that albumins show the greatest anti-tumour activity among all of the proteins. Another advantage of the proteins is their anti-oxidant property which eliminates the free radicals.

These proteins found in cocoa exerted anti-tumor activity in animal model of lymphoma.

What does this mean?
The proteins present in cocoa show a highly effective anti-tumour activity along with antioxidant property.

10. Cocoa reduces resistance to cancer therapy

Various studies on different types of cancer cell lines have shown that flavonoids, mainly procyanidins, are highly effective against cancer. These compounds increase cytotoxicity among cancer cells and increase their sensitivity to the chemical substances.

Along with this, it mediates their resistance to drugs. This was observed in the case of ovarian cancer cell lines.

These compounds increase cytotoxicity among cancer cells and increase their sensitivity to the chemical substances. Along with this, it mediates their resistance to drugs. This was observed in the case of ovarian cancer cell lines.

These compounds increase cytotoxicity among cancer cells and increase their sensitivity to the chemical substances. Along with this, it mediates their resistance to drugs. This was observed in the case of ovarian cancer cell lines.

Epicatechin is another type of flavonoids present in cocoa extracts. They increase the sensitivity of cancer cells to ionising radiations. This helps to kill the tumor cells faster through chemotherapy. This is another way of reducing the resistance to cancer therapy.

What does this mean?
Cocoa contains epicatechins and procyanidins, both flavonoids, which increase the sensitivity of only cancer cells to the therapy such as chemotherapy. They decrease the resistance to cancer therapy which allows the killing of cells to take place more efficiently.

Dosage of Cocoa

Adding cocoa to our regular meals would help in treating cancer. However, this amount should not be excessively high as it can have severe side effects.

Dark chocolate is better than milk chocolate as it contains less sugar and fat and more cocoa. This means that the chocolate should contain a minimum of 75% cocoa in it. Consuming 25 – 40 grams of dark chocolate on a daily basis, which consists of at least 85% cocoa, is recommended.

Unprocessed cocoa is healthier than processed cocoa. Hence it should be consumed to give more positive and effective results. The correct dosage of cocoa is important for a healthy lifestyle.

Precautions

An increased dose of cocoa in the form of chocolates, especially for the kids, can lead to restlessness and headaches. This should be prevented and only a small amount of dark chocolate should be consumed every few days.

This should be prevented and only a small amount of dark chocolate should be consumed every few days.

One should always consult and take expert advice before using cocoa for the treatment of cancer.

Conclusion

Cocoa is a substance used for making chocolates, a delicacy loved by people of all ages. Along with its amazing taste, it contains a number of properties which can help in the treatment of diseases and disorders.

Cancer is one such disease. Cocoa reduces the stress and anxiety people experience when they suffer from cancer. It consists of polyphenols and minerals such as magnesium and copper which prevent and cure cancer. Another benefit of consuming cocoa is that it improves the immune system, which plays a very important role in the development of cancer.

Another benefit of consuming cocoa is that it improves the immune system, which plays a very important role in the development of cancer.

Another benefit of consuming cocoa is that it improves the immune system, which plays a very important role in development of cancer.

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