Tag Archives: gastric cancer

Arginine Supplements Improve Gastric Cancer Care

Gastric cancer causes significant malnutrition in patients, negatively impacting their survival rates, and affecting their quality of life. But can supplementing with the amino acid arginine improve care?

Gastric cancer, or stomach cancer, usually develops in the innermost layer of the stomach—the mucosa. Unfortunately, the early stages of stomach cancer often don’t produce symptoms, so the cancer often grows before its detected. Prognosis is often poor.

Gastric cancer can often be treated by surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or targeted therapies. Some of these treatments have severe side effects, including nausea and lack of appetite.

These side effects, plus the progression of the cancer, often result in malnutrition. If the patient suffers from malnutrition, their survival rate goes down. Malnutrition also prevents some cancer treatment from working effectively.

H Zhao, Y Wang, et al, researchers at the Department of Intensive Care Unit, Daqing Oilfield General Hospital, Daqing, China, hoped to improve nutrition for patients with gastric cancer by supplementing with arginine.

The amino acid arginine is usually produced in the body. Arginine plays an important role in immune function, and wound healing. However, the malnourished gastric cancer patients were not producing enough.

The researchers developed a randomized, double-blinded clinical trial. Malnourished patients with gastric cancer were given either the standard postoperative nutrition, or arginine-enriched nutrition. Both these groups had similar baseline characteristics.

Promising results for arginine supplement and gastric cancer trial

The arginine group had significantly better overall survival rates, of 41 months compared to 30 months. The arginine group also had better progression-free survival, of 18 months compared to 11.5 months.

Immunity was improved, too. The arginine group had significantly higher levels of T cells and natural killer cells, which are critical to the functioning of the immune system.

The researchers concluded that arginine-supplemented nutrition could become a valuable treatment for malnourished gastric cancer patients.

Sources:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23812551

L-arginine Prevents Gastric Cancer Cell Growth

More interesting news about the anti-cancer effects of the essential amino acid L-arginine (or simply, arginine). A European study investigated the effects of L-arginine on tumor cell growth on human gastric cancer cell lines. Would L-arginine promote cancer cell death?

Gastric, or stomach, cancers have a poor prognosis because they develop slowly over many years without producing symptoms. By the time symptoms occur, the cancer may have spread, or metastasized, which is much more difficult to treat. The 5-year survival rate is only 5-15%.

Most stomach cancers are adenocarcinomas, which develop from the cells lining the stomach.  Smoking irritates these cells, and smoking greatly increases the risk of developing gastric cancer. Eating a diet high in antioxidant-rich foods, such as fresh berries, could reduce the risk.

S Nanthakumaran, I Brown, et al, researchers at the University of Aberdeen’s College of Life Sciences and Medicine, in Scotland, UK, developed a study on immunonutrition. Immunonutrition is the development of nutritional components that favorably affect the immune function.

The researchers wanted to examine the effects of the amino acid L-arginine on tumor cell growth, cancer cell invasion, and the cancer’s effect on gene expression.

Can L-arginine help treat stomach cancer?

L-arginine is already proven to enhance the immune system, and reduce infectious complications in patients undergoing gastrointestinal surgery.  Healthy people are usually able to synthesize enough L-arginine in their bodies. However, L-arginine supplements are useful for people with surgical or other traumas.

In order study L-arginine’s effect on tumor cells, the researchers grew human gastric cancer cell lines in vitro. Different concentrations of L-arginine were tested.

L-arginine caused the cancer cells to die, by inducing cancer cell apoptosis  (programmed cell death).The researchers discovered cell growth inhibition was caused by the L-arginine increasing the expression of a significant protein: caspase 8. Caspases play an essential role in promoting apoptosis.

L-arginine, therefore, has the potential of being developed into an anti-cancer agent.

Sources:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19036482/