An anticarcinogen (also known as a carcinopreventive agent) is a substance that counteracts the effects of a carcinogen or inhibits the development of cancer. Anticarcinogens are different from anticarcinoma agents (also known as anticancer or anti-neoplastic agents) in that anticarcinoma agents are used to selectively destroy or inhibit cancer cells after cancer has developed. Interest in anticarcinogens is motivated primarily by the principle that it is preferable to prevent disease (preventive medicine) than to have to treat it (rescue medicine).
In theory, anticarcinogens may act via different mechanisms including enhancement of natural defences against cancer, deactivation of carcinogens, and blocking the mechanisms by which carcinogens act (such as free radical damage to DNA). Confirmation that a substance possesses anticarcinogenic activity requires extensive in vitro, in vivo, and clinical investigation. Health claims for anticarcinogens are regulated by various national and international organizations like the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).
Substances for which an anticarcinogenic health claim is approved
When consumed as part of a low fat diet, fiber-containing grain products, fruits, and vegetables may reduce the risk of some types of cancer. Cancer is, however, a disease associated with many factors, and the nature of the relationship between fiber, fruit, and vegetable intake and decreased cancer risk is not clear.
- There is epidemiological evidence that a diet rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and flavonoids is anticarcinogenic.
- Interest in many popular nutritional supplements, including essential antioxidant nutrients such as selenium compounds and hormones such as melatonin, DHEA, and GSH is motivated by preliminary evidence that these have anticarcinogenic activity.
- In in vivo studies with mice, the major psychoactive component in marijuana, tetrahydrocannabinol, has been shown to have anticarcinogenic activity.
- "Anticarcinogen". Farlex, Inc. Retrieved 11 November 2013.
- "Health Claims Meeting Significant Scientific Agreement". US Food and Drug Administration. Retrieved 13 November 2013.
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