Panax ginseng apparently mitigates cancer through antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and apoptotic mechanisms to influence gene expression. Its preventive effect against cancer has been shown by extensive preclinical and epidemiological studies. Mechanisms include inhibition of DNA damage, inhibition of cell proliferation and induction of apoptosis.
Panax Ginseng Role in Cancer Therapy
The main chemical components of P. ginseng are ginsenosides, which have been shown to have a variety of useful effects, including antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anticancer properties. In lab study using cell cultures and animals, some ginsenosides have been shown to boost the immune system or slow the growth of cancer cells. The number of ginsenoside types contained in Panax ginseng (38 ginsenosides) is dramatically more than that of ginsenoside types contained in American ginseng (19 ginsenosides). Panax ginseng and its active compounds have been examined for their inhibiting property on putative carcinogenesis mechanisms; in most experiments inhibitory activities were found.
In mice, Panax ginseng extracts and ginsenosides both appreciably inhibited lung metastases from melanoma. Studies on human breast cancer cells indicate that ginseng, particularly its constituent ginsenoside-Rb1, acts as a phytoestrogen. In a study reported in 2001 in the Journal of Korean Medical Science states that compounds in Panax ginseng have anti-carcinogenic effects and can preserve against different types of cancer, including lung cancer. Panax ginseng was found efficacious in patients with stage III gastric cancer for improving both post-operative immunity and survival. Enhanced CD3 and CD4 activity was reported with a 5-year survival for P. ginseng patients significantly higher than control (68 % versus 33 %). Effective dose was 4.5 g/day for the first 6 months after surgery.
Panax ginseng is thought to increase immune cells and improve some of the cancer-fighting chemicals in the body, such as interleukin-2, according to a research performed by the Department of Pathology during a study on young, healthy participants at “Ramathibodi Hospital, Mahidol University” in Bangkok. A study conducted in South Korea followed 4,587 women and men aged thirty-nine years and older from 1987 to 1991. People who consumed panax ginseng regularly were compared with similar people who did not. It was documented that in that time, those who used ginseng had a 60 % lower incidence of death from cancer, particularly stomach and lung cancer. An epidemiological study analyzed the preventive activity of Panax ginseng on 3,974 patients with various types of cancer compared to case-matched controls for 67 weeks. Patients taking panax ginseng showed a 50% lower risk of cancer recurrence compared to patients not taking ginseng. Cancer incidence reduced by 36 and 69 % in people taking ginseng for 1 year or 5 years, respectively. A greater protective effect was seen in cancers of the esophagus, pharynx, liver and lung .