Another study published in PLoS found that one particular component in ginger known as 6-shogaol is superior to conventional cancer medication, namely chemotherapy, at targeting the cause of breast cancer malignancy: breast cancer stem cells (1).
Sometimes referred to as ‘mother cells,’ cancer stem cells are the cause of a wide range of cancers, not simply breast cancer. These ‘mother cells’ are responsible for creating the different ‘daughter’ cell types that make up the tumor colony. While cancer stem cells only constitute .2 to 1% of the cell makeup of the tumor, they seem to be almost ‘immortal.’
What that means is, these cancer stem cells can self-renew, they are capable of continuous differentiation, are resistant to conventional chemotherapeutic agents, and are capable of splitting off and forming new tumor colonies. The only way to fully ensure that your body is cancer free is to destroy the cancer stem cells within a tumor.
This new study found that the pungent constituent in ginger known as 6-shogaol was very active when it came to anti-cancer stem behavior. This constituent is produced when the root is either dried or cooked, to very common uses for ginger already. But there is something very specific about 6-shogaol that makes it potentially superior to some available chemotherapy treatments for cancer.
Researchers found that these cancer-destroying effects occurred at concentrations that were non-toxic to non-cancer cells. That means that this particular component of ginger only killed cancer cells, leaving healthy cells alone. This makes it very different from conventional cancer treatments that do not display that kind of selective cytotoxicity.
When it comes to breast cancer, 6-shogaol significantly affects the cell cycle, resulting in increased cancer cell death. It induces programmed cell death through the induction of autophagy. It also inhibits breast cancer spheroids (lumps) from forming. But that isn’t the only astounding thing about 6-shogaol.
This study also found, that in tests of the cancer drug Taxol, it did not show the same level of effectiveness at destroying cancer stem cells and tumors as 6-shogaol. Even when the concentrations of Taxol were increased, it was still found that 6-shogaol was 10,000 times more effective at killing cancer stem cells, stopping tumors from forming, and keeping healthy cells alive.
Although more research needs to be done to show how ‘modern cancer medicine’ may not be as effective as natural remedies, this is promising preliminary research.