Metabolic disorders and cancer: is there a role for nutraceuticals?


  • Massimiliano Cazzaniga


Obesity, Cancer risk, Insulin resistance, Nutraceuticals


Obesity and overweight are defined as abnormal excess accumulation of fat in adipose tissue, which is recognized as a real organ with both metabolic and endocrine functions, and have a close relationship with oncological risk. The relationship between obesity and carcinogenesis is complex and not fully understood. However, obesity is frequently associated with several pathological states such as chronic inflammation, dyslipidaemia and insulin resistance (generally defined as metabolic disorders) which contribute to the increased risk of cancer in the overweight population. Current data show that metabolic disorders are often reversible with prompt therapeutic intervention, so these conditions and related carcinogenetic pathways should be managed for cancer prevention and therapy. Metformin and statins have demonstrated their ability to interfere with tumour processes but unfortunately also produce side effects, making long-term and preventative use difficult. Some nutraceutical compounds seem to be ideal for providing similar activity and effectiveness as these agents but with minor or absent side effects. This review examines the pathophysiology of metabolic disorders, their relationship with cancer and the possibility of interfering with associated processes with some promising nutraceuticals used as monotherapy or in combination with conventional therapies.