Sunday April 22, 2018

Coral Reefs: Natural sources of cancer medicines

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coral_reef_4By Meghna

What do Lakshwadeep Islands, the islands of the Gulf of Mannar, Andaman and Nicobar Islands and the islands of the Gulf of Kachch have in common?

All of them have Coral Reefs.

To a common man, coral reefs would simply appear as hordes of beautiful colours and shapes, scattered across rocks, under crystal blue waters. But, in reality there is much more to coral reefs than just their beauty and vibrancy.

Not everyone knows that Coral reefs have medicinal properties. The substances extracted from Coral Reefs are well known to be used in making medicines for a wide variety of diseases, ranging from diabetes and heart diseases to Alzheimer’s.

A substance extracted from the Caribbean sea sponge, is used to manufacture a medicine named Ara-C, which is a popularly known and widely used medicine in chemotherapy treatments of people diagnosed with leukemia and lymphoma.

Another medicine, Yondelis, which is extracted from sea squirt, is used in Europe to treat sarcoma.

“Coral reefs have an incredible diversity of life—from plants, animals and fungi down to the tiniest micro-organism. And this diversity holds so much potential for medical research. In fact, we are 300 to 400 times more likely to find that next big medical breakthrough in our reefs than on land,” Stephanie Wear, a marine scientist at The Nature Conservancy foundation was quoted by a website.

Many coastal communities and even nations—depend on coral reefs for their livelihoods, but, due to climate change, overfishing, pollution, and unsustainable coastal development, the reefs are now endangered. In fact, the coral reefs of the caribbean are known to have diminished upto 90% already! Due to discarded fishing gears,coastal erosion, development, deforestation and other terrestrial activities, increasing sediment loads are being transported to coral reefs via river discharges and surface run off. A combined analysis data spanning 25 years has revealed that in the Caribbean, coral reefs are declining at a rate of 5.5% – 9.2% per year. In the Indo-Pacific region, a 2% loss of coral reefs per year has been estimated. These activities have posed a severe threat to the coral reefs.

Today, 33% of coral species are listed on the ‘Red List of endangered species’ of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Scientists nowadays have been cultivating the coral reefs in nurseries and when they have matured sufficiently, they are restored back into the sea. The survival of coral reefs is essential for mankind to thrive, because they contain answers to a myriad of ailments.

It is quite possible that many of the benefits of these reefs are still unknown to us. Who knows, with the progress of science, we might just be able to get remedies for more and more ailments.

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High carbohydrate intake may increase cancer recurrence risk

Five-year survival rates among these patients continue to be low, in part because these cancers are often detected in the later stages

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Can sugar contribute to growth of cancer in your body? Pixabay

Consuming high amounts of carbohydrates and sugar prior to treatment for head and neck cancer may increase the patients’ risks of cancer recurrence and mortality, a new study reports.

Patients who consumed the most total carbohydrates and sugars — in the form of sucrose, fructose, lactose and maltose — in the year preceding the cancer treatment were at greater risk of mortality from any cause during the follow-up period. Out of the 400 cancer patients in the study, published in the International Journal of Cancer, more than 17 per cent experienced recurrence of their cancer, and 42 patients died from it.

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Cancer can be caused by excessive intake of sugar and carbohydrates too. Pixabay

Associations among carbohydrate intake and patient outcomes differed by cancer type and stage, said lead author Anna E. Arthur, professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

However, eating moderate amounts of fats and starchy foods such as whole grains, potatoes and legumes after treatment could have protective benefits, reducing the patients’ risks of disease recurrence and death, he added.

What We Know About Cancer Risk and Coffee

“Our results, along with the findings of other studies, suggest that diet composition can affect cancer outcomes,” said co-author Amy M. Goss, professor at the University of Alabama.

Higher mortality rates were found among people with oral cavity cancer who consumed the greatest amounts of total carbohydrates, total sugars and simple carbohydrates, but the researchers found no such associations among people who had oropharyngeal cancers.

Chronic diseases are not yet included in cancer prevention schemes.
Cancer can be caused due to too much sugar.

“Although in this study we found that higher total carbohydrate and total sugar were associated with higher mortality in head and neck cancer patients, because of the study design we can’t say that there’s a definitive cause-effect relationship,” Arthur said.

Five-year survival rates among these patients continue to be low, in part because these cancers are often detected in the later stages, putting patients at high risk of recurrence, the researchers said. IANS

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