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Role Of Free Radicals In Initiation And Progression Of Cancer


Cancer is known to be the leading cause of death and also an important barrier to increase life expectancy globally. But have we ever wondered why it is so dangerous? Why is it increasing at a skyrocketing speed? And Why has it become so common only in the last 10-15 years? Why was it not there before? Hopefully after reading this write up you will get all your answers. Along with that we will also tell you how to improve the quality life of patients suffering from cancer with ayurveda.

Free Radicals, Cancer, Cancer Cells Free Radicals, Role Of Free Radicals, Cause Of Free Radicals Formation, How Cancer Is Caused, DNA Repair Mechanism, How Ayurveda Is Helpful, The Rescuer Diet, Green Juice, Red Juice, Ayurvedic Herbs, Karka Roga In Ayurveda


Cancer also known as Karka Roga in ayurveda. In this condition, there happens uncontrolled growth of body cells and lately it spreads to other body parts. Free radicals play the most important role in initiation and development of cancer because excessive production of free radicals leads to DNA mutation, Lipid peroxidation, Protein structure alteration and Nucleic acid structure modification. It has been observed that the role of free radicals in the development of cancer is much simpler than causing cardiovascular diseases.

Cause Of Free Radicals Formation

The most common reason is Unhealthy lifestyle and diet such as

  • Alcohol intake and Smoking
  • Exposure to certain chemicals such as pesticides or air pollution.
  • High glycemic index foods like Refined sugar, carbohydrates
  • Packed and processed foods.

How Cancer Is Caused?

Dr. Bruce Ames, one of the free radical researchers, found that our DNA in each cell is attacked 10,000 times a day by free radicals. So the risk appears quite high yet cancer in comparison is very rare. But here arises the most important question: why doesn't everyone fall ill with cancer frequently?

Okay we will understand this in a very simple way because there are many reasons.

First is the "DNA repair mechanism" The repair rate of DNA in healthy human beings is 100%. In a fight to preserve, DNA has one advantage i.e positive negative structures and its double strand. If a free radical damages the DNA or releases some code carrying nucleotide then the DNA repair enzymes, uses the second strand as a guide and repairs the first by matching positive to negative and reconstructs the damaged strand precisely. APproximately more than 50 enzymes are involved in DNA repair mechanisms.In humans DNA repair is ordinally close to perfect.

Second is if any DNA remains unrepaired then it is not necessary that it causes cancer. Many have no effect at all. If the DNA damage is serious enough the cell simply dies and this is the only condition that results in cancer. All cells of the body have the same gene coding in their DNA. In Every human cell, there are 5000 to 10,000 genes like a Genetic fuse box. In each cell few of the genes are expressive or switched on and some are switched off or recessive. For eg: Liver cell only expresses those genes which cause it to function as liver cell. By this way only, cells are said to be differentiated or specialised. If we have to say this in genetics like Only those strips of RNA messenger are copied off the DNA that creates the proteins needed by that particular cell. So when DNA is damaged by Free radicals then it loses its differentiated status or function So it is no longer that particular cell i.e Liver cell, Lung cell etc and becomes generic or undifferentiated which is only capable of energy production but unable to perform that particular function which he was performing earlier. In cancer, these undifferentiated cells start reproducing much more rapidly. It is unclear why these cells are only interested in doing proliferation of their own cells but do no useful work.

Role Of Free Radicals In Initiation And Progression Phase Of Cancer

In the initiation phase, due to chronic inflammation our neutrophils and macrophages constantly release free radicals (Superoxide and Hydrogen peroxide) in all the directions thus entering the nearby cells and causing damage to the genetic material. Other free radicals i.e Hydroxyl Radicals and hypochlorous acid released in intercellular spaces have indirectly the same effect and damages the cell membrane. When the cell membrane gets attacked then it gives rise to a chain reaction and eventually there occurs production of aldehydes. These aldehydes then enter the nucleus and cross link DNA or its surrounding proteins. These free radicals can be evaluated by the measure named Electron spin resonance spectroscopy. In this, the unbalanced electron spin caused by unpaired electrons in the free radicals will be on the higher side. A Finnish study confirmed that people with a low level of antioxidants in the bloodstream are 11 times more prone to have cancer.

In the promotion phase, the cancer cells deliberately generate free radicals to increase the process of metastasis because it has been observed that there is copious flow of Hydrogen peroxide (Free radical) in the tumour cell when observed. Most of the tissues and body cells are held together by collagen. But the free radicals release Collagenases enzymes that break down the collagen and make it easy for cancer cells to escape and move to other areas of the body. So by regularly creating free radicals cancer cells turn themselves to Mutagen specialists i. Cells with higher mutation rate or by attacking their own DN, they will worsen the intensity of cancer.

How Ayurveda Is Helpful

Ayurveda is an ancient science which does holistic healing. The primary aim of ayurveda is to take care of a healthy person and to cure the diseased one. Ayurveda helps in improving the quality of life of cancer patients with non adverse effects causing herbs and herbal formulations . In cancer, we can divide the treatment protocol into 4 types ie

  1. Prakritisthapani chikitsa (Health maintenance)
  2. Rasayana chikitsa (Restoration of normal function)
  3. Roganashani chikitsa (disease cure)
  4. Naishthiki chikitsa (spiritual approach)

Let's have a look!!!

1. Prakritisthapani chikitsa (Health maintenance)

As per ayurveda, Health can be maintained with a good diet and lifestyle. In cancer patients, an antioxidant diet should be recommended to kill the free radicals so that progression of the diseases should be stopped. Following diet should be followed:-

Antioxidant---The Rescuer Diet

  1. Nuts—5-7 almonds, 2 walnuts, 2 figs (Soaked overnight)
  2. Leaves and Geens- Coriander, Radish, mint, spinach, lettuce, Kale, Spirulina, wheatgrass and lemongrass.
  3. Green lentil sprouts and bean sprouts.
  4. Fruits- All seasonal fruits should be consumed.
  5. Beverages– Green juice and Red juice.

Green Juice

  • Coriander leaves (10-12),
  • Mint leaves (4-5),
  • Spinach leaves (2),
  • Basil leaves (2-3),
  • Wheatgrass (5-6),
  • Sheesham leaves (2-3),
  • Moringa leaves (3-4),
  • Spirulina

Red Juice

  • Beetroot (3-4 slices)
  • Amla (1)
  • Apple (3-4 slices)
  • Pomegranate (few seeds)
  • Marigold flower petals (9-10)
  • Rose petals (5-6)
  • Grapes (2-3)
  • Black grapes

2. Rasayana Chikitsa (Restoration Of Normal Function)

In cancer, Rasayan chikitsa is of much importance because it strengthens our immune system. A strong immune system can stop the progression of cancer before it gets out of control. Our immune system not only controls the infection but is the last line of defence against cancer. Thus, Rasayan therapy should be given so that the macrophages, phagocytes increase in number and get more energy to kill cancer cells because they are the only ones who recognize the cancer cells in the body. Rasayan to be used in cancer are as follows:-

  1. Ashwagandha Rasayana
  2. Brahma Rasayana
  3. Narasimha Rasayanam
  4. Amrita Prasham

3. Roganashani Chikitsa (Disease Cure)

Rognashini chikitsa include all kinds of herbs and herbal formulation which helps in management of cancer symptoms, reduces it progression, prevent the body from adverse effects of chemotherapy, Radiation therapy and most importantly where Chemotherapy and radiation therapy is contraindicated. So here are some herbs, herbal formulation and herbal mineral preparation which specifically helps in the management, please have a look!


  1. Curcumin (Curcuma longa) - Curcumin belongs to the chemical class of polyphenols. So  curcumin helps in removal of cancer cells by modifying signalling pathways, inhibits cell cycle process and by inducing apoptosis (Programmed cell destruction). So it has been evident that curcumin will give amazing effects if used in combination or alone in cancer suffering patients.
  2. Graviola (Annona muricata) - Graviola is enriched with phytochemicals due to which it possesses anticancer properties. Acetogenins and alkaloids present in Graviola have the ability to restrict the growth of cancer cells.  It also helps in arresting the cell cycle and induces apoptosis (Programmed cell destruction).
  3. Arlu (Ailanthus excelsa) - Arlu also known as Ailanthus excelsa is rich in Alanthionone and quassinoids which possess an anticancer effect and inhibit cell growth.  It also contains Triterpenoid AECHL-1 which is used to restrict the activity of cancer cells. So Arlu is one  the best herb which helps in management of cancer or prevents the body from adverse effects of chemotherapy.
  4. Pippali (Piper longum) - Piper longum also known as Pippali in ayurveda and possesses an alkaloid named Piperine which has anti cancer and cytotoxic properties. Moreover it also boosts the immune system due to its immunomodulatory effect. In ayurveda it is known as srotovahi that means it reaches the micro channels, kill the unwanted cells and clears the signalling pathways.

Mineral Preparations

  • Swaran bhasma –  Swarna bhasma is an ancient ayurvedic mineral preparation which contains gold particles and possesses anticancer, antioxidant and immunomodulatory properties. Due to its antioxidant property it restricts the free radical production and kills them thus hepsing in slowing down the progression of cancer.
  • Heerak bhasma – Heerak bhasma is also one of the potent ayurvedic mineral based preparations which not only modulates the immune system but also restricts the growth of tumour cells and modifies the signalling pathways. It has antimutagenic, antioxidant, anticancer and anti metastatic properties which does free radical destruction and induces apoptosis.

4. Naishthiki Chikitsa (Spiritual Approach)

As per the research it has been observed that Spiritual Approach positively influences the people suffering from cancer. As per international journal it is evident or seen that high degree of Spiritual belief or faith may predict the prolonged survival for cancer patients and also increases the efficacy of chemotherapy.

Apart from this, We would like to address some bad spiritual beliefs made by society that cancer may be due to the punishment or curse given by god due to some past karma's. But this is not true… So these kinds of mentalities should be changed because we have already explained above how it happens. Spread positivity and support the cancer patient mentally, physically and socially. So it is a moral duty of every doctor that they should clear all the doubts of a patient and ask him to do some spiritual practices as follows:-

  1. Chanting of oma - Oma chanting opens up all your blocked channels and helps in improving cellular metabolism. When it improves the cellular metabolism then it definitely reduces the production of free radicals. When the production of free radicals will be less then the progression of cancer will be slower thus improving the quality life of cancer patients.
  2. Pranayama - Pranayama every morning in Brahmamuhurta (i.e from 4 am -6 am) will be more effective. A cancer patient should do pranayam early in the morning so that the progression of the disease will be slower and destruction of free radicals will be more due to the morning fresh air.
  3. Yoga - Yoga here is meditation. In this disease, Doing meditation will really be helpful because cancer will affect our mind more than the body. Meditation will help in calming the mind and keeping the body away from deterioration and degeneration.So this should also be included.


In a nutshell, we can say cancer is a very chronic illness and is a leading cause of death worldwide but it can be prevented with natural herbs and minerals which was said 5000 years ago. We can improve the quality of life of cancer patients or we can prevent it at an early stage. Moreover the adverse effects of these anticancer therapies can also be put at stop. So we hope you will adapt ayurveda to your lives and keep yourself healthy. So "YOU CAN BE A VICTIM OF CANCER OR SURVIVOR OF CANCER. IT'S A MINDSET".

"Choose Ayurveda and Live Happily"

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Author Bio:

Best Ayurvedic Doctor - Dr. Meenakshi Chauhan

Dr. Meenakshi Chauhan


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Reviewed By:

Best Ayurvedic Doctor in Mohali - Dr. Vikram Chauhan

Dr. Vikram Chauhan


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