Anti-Cancer Actions of Herbs by Joseph J Collins, RN, ND
Cancer cells are dangerous because cancer cells grow and divide too quickly. Growth and division of cells is called proliferation. Cancer cells have excessive proliferation – they grow and divide at abnormally fast rates. So, we want herbs that have antiproliferative actions, herbs that inhibit proliferation.
Normally, all cells have a normal life cycle and then they are programmed to die. This programmed cell death is called apoptosis. However, cancer cells can have abnormally long life cycles, allowing them to keep growing and dividing. So, we want herbs that increase apoptosis and cause the cells to die.
Some herbs have been found to have a direct affect against active cancers. These are called anticancer (or anti-cancer) and anti-carcinogenic actions.
Some papers use the words tumor to describe can excessive tissue growth that is benign (not cancer). Herbs may also be designated as having antitumor activity and inhibiting tumorigenesis (antitumorigenic) because they can decrease excessive tissue growth. Benign tumors could become serious if they press on vital structures such as blood vessels or nerves.