The complex role of antioxidants in pancreatic cancer

Home Research Strategic Research Program Pancreatic Cancer News The complex role of antioxidants in pancreatic cancer

Research in the News

The complex role of antioxidants in pancreatic cancer

A paper published on July 6, 2011 in the prestigious journal Nature describes a novel role for antioxidants in pancreatic cancer. The lead author on this article is David Tuveson, MD, PhD, Chair of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network Scientific Advisory Board, and recipient of a 2003 Pancreatic Cancer Action Network – AACR Career Development Award. Other contributors include Christine Iacobuzio-Donahue, MD, PhD (2007 Pancreatic Cancer Action Network Pilot Grant) and Ralph Hruban, MD (Scientific Advisory Board). Further, in the same issue of Nature, a summary of this study was co-written by Rushika Perera, PhD and Nabeel Bardeesy, PhD (2008 Randy Pausch, PhD – Pancreatic Cancer Action Network – AACR Pilot Grant).

In general, the role of antioxidants is to detoxify and block the formation of reactive oxygen species (ROSs). ROSs can be harmful to human cells, inducing DNA damage. This damage to DNA is characteristic of cancer cells, and promotes the formation and maintenance of tumors. For this reason, it has been believed that consumption of antioxidants in food or dietary supplements may play a role in preventing or alleviating cancer.

Contrary to previous reports implicating ROSs in causing or promoting cancer, this study by Dr. Tuveson and colleagues describes that cancer cells themselves have an inherent mechanism of reducing ROSs via antioxidants. This paper describes for the first time that the most commonly mutated protein in pancreatic cancer, K-Ras, can directly lead to expression of a protein called Nrf-2, stimulating an antioxidant cascade that reduces the levels of ROSs. Genetically blocking Nrf-2 leads to decreased growth and progression of pancreatic cancer cells in a mouse model of the disease, suggesting a potential therapeutic target.

Additional work will be necessary to understand the complex balance and activity of antioxidants and ROSs in human pancreatic cancer. It is also important to note that in addition to its role as an antioxidant, Nrf-2 leads to activation of a multitude of other behaviors in cancer cells. Therefore, a deeper understanding of the functions of K-Ras and Nrf-2 in pancreatic cancer will be critical.

Click here for the scientific abstract of this paper.
Click here for the news article describing this paper.

For more information about this study or other questions about pancreatic cancer diet and nutrition, diagnosis, or treatment, please contact a Pancreatic Cancer Action Network Patient and Liaison Services (PALS) Associate toll-free at 877-272-6226 or email PALS Associates are available M-F 7am-5pm Pacific Time.

Wage Hope With Us

Join us to make a difference for pancreatic cancer patients.

shop purple logo

Gear, apparel, accessories and more to show off your purple pride.

Shop Now 

©2020 Pancreatic Cancer Action Network. All rights reserved. Terms of Use | Privacy Policy

Pancreatic Cancer Action Network®, PanCAN®, PurpleStride®, Wage Hope®, Know Your Tumor®, Powerful Knowledge. Personal Treatment.®, Precision Promise℠ and Demand Better For Patients. For Survival.℠ are the trademarks of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, Inc.

The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network is registered as a 501©3 nonprofit organization. Contributions to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law. The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network’s tax identification number is #33-0841281.