Giving Nutrients They’re Say: Stopping Oral Cancer with Anti-Inflammatory Ingredients

Inflammation throughout the body doesn’t just cause aches or pain – it is a dangerous condition that can begin a spiral of cellular misfires that lead to DNA damage and tumor formation. In the case of oral cancer, tobacco use seems like the most obvious cause – and it often is.

However, viruses can take their toll on the tissue in the mouth as well. Both cause inflammation and damage to the inside of the mouth, and can set the conditions in motion that create cancer. The authors of this review found that a wide variety of natural ingredients, including curcumin, anthocyanins, omega-3 fatty acids, lycopenes, and green tea epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) can stop the formation and promotion of tumors by addressing a multitude of pathways – some overlapping, and some unique to the ingredient.

Nonetheless, stopping inflammation was a primary way of interrupting the cycle of tumor growth. In one cited study, curcumin reduced the size of an oral lesions, and significantly relieved symptoms. In other work green tea EGCG prevented metastasis and cellular invasion in cell studies. And, other work resveratrol stops the spread of cancer cells through binding directly to DNA and RNA, suppressing inflammatory markers, and inhibiting oxidative damage. Overall, the natural ingredients reviewed showed a remarkable potential to reduce oral tumors, stop their spread, and relieve the symptoms that accompany them.


Hari S, Vasudevan V, Kasibhotla S, Reddy D, Venkatappa M, Devaiah D. Anti‐inflammatory Dietary Supplements in the Chemoprevention of Oral Cancer. Cancer Research Frontiers. 2016 Sept; 2(3): 380-395.

Oral cancer is the most serious and growing problem now-a-days in many parts of the world. When grouped with pharyngeal cancer, it is the sixth most common cancer globally. The major risk factors being cigarette smoking that includes tobacco, alcohol abuse and viral infections such as HPV, lead to this condition by inducing inflammatory changes in the oral cavity. Inflammation, a crucial, complex host defense against biologic, chemical, physical and endogenous irritants, is considered as the seventh hallmark of cancer involved in all the stages of carcinogenesis, from initiation, progression to invasion. Inflammatory cells such as macrophages, mast cells and lymphocytes produce several tumor inducing substances such as IL1β, IL-6, TNF-α, NF-κB, MMPs, COX-2 which induce remodeling of extracellular matrix components, inhibit apoptosis resulting in immortalization of tumor cells. Although there have been significant advances in cancer therapeutic modalities, available anti-tumor drugs display limited efficacy and sometimes carry a risk of severe adverse side effects. To address this issue, a number of epidemiological examinations in human populations and experimental animal studies provide evidence that certain dietary supplements such as Curcumin, Epigallocatechin gallate, Resveratrol, etc, suppress the progression of cancer through the inhibition of inflammatory cascade and also modulation of various signaling pathways implicated in the cancer initiation, promotion and progression. In this review article, we summarize the potential role of various anti-inflammatory dietary supplements and their possible chemopreventive mechanisms against oral cancer.

Link to complete review