A blog reader, an 8-year survivor of multiple myeloma, recently told me that he began taking curcumin last summer, after reading my post on the curcumin-bortezomib study. This combination, he believes, produced much better results than the Velcade alone would have. Based on my July 23rd 2009 post on saw palmetto, or Serenoa repens, he began taking that as well. He isn’t sure that it helped, but he writes that his m-spike, which had seemed stuck at 0.3, subsequently went down to 0.1. Interesting.
Well, that reminded me that I hadn’t yet posted about the full saw palmetto study (abstract: http://tinyurl.com/mxrysb), which I purchased online a few days ago, since saw palmetto happens to be next in line on my to-be-tested list of supplements…all depends on the content of this study. So let’s stick our heads right into the full study.
After the usual well-known dire statistics about myeloma (skipskipskippety!), the study mentions STATs. These signal transducers have an important role in myeloma (which reminds me, I have an almost-finished draft on STAT 3…need to find the time to finish it, sigh). Just to mention one of its actions, STAT 3 stimulates the growth of our malignant cells. Oh, and another thing: it protects them from apoptosis.
Then we find a list of previous studies on the effects of saw palmetto on prostate cancer and breast cancer. By the way, I am going to use “saw palmetto” and not “Serenoa repens” in this post, since I rather like the image of a “saw” being “palmettoed” through each myeloma cell…and no, “to palmetto” is not a reeeal verb…just an invented image of my twisted brain, hehe…
In this study, the researchers found that Serenoa repens inhibited the proliferation of a variety of human leukemia cells including U266 and RPMI 8226 multiple myeloma cells. We also found that Serenoa repens inhibited basal level of phosphorylated form of STAT 3 and Interleukin-6 (IL-6) induced level of phosphorylated form of STAT 3 in U266 cells suggesting that Serenoa repens may induce growth arrest and apoptosis of human multiple myeloma cells through inactivation of STAT 3 signaling. Serenoa repens might be useful for treatment of individuals with human multiple myeloma. By the way, the cells lines used in the study were human acute myelogenous leukemia and acute lymphoblastic T-cell cells (HL-60, NB4 and Jurket) and multiple myeloma cells (U266 and RPMI 8226).
Results: in addition to stopping the growth of the myeloma cells, saw palmetto also slaughtered them without pity, in a dose and time-dependent manner. Interesting finding: U266 cells exposed to saw palmetto had 60% lower levels of Mcl-1 compared to control cells (Mcl-1 is an evil member of the Bcl family; in a nutshell, it helps myeloma cells survive). Let’s see, without boring you with too many details, here is the gist (my emphasis): These results indicate that Serenoa repens induces growth arrest and apoptosis of human MM Cells. Yaaaay!
The researchers also showed that saw palmetto inhibits the proliferation and determines the death of human acute leukemia cells. Also very good.
And they discovered that saw palmetto reduces the expression of phosphorylated form of STAT 3 by 80 %. Not bad, not bad at all. It also blocked the IL-6-induced phosphorylation of STAT 3 by 85.0%. This leads the researchers to state the following: These data indicate that Serenoa repens may reduce the expression of phosphorylation of STAT 3 or ERK mediated by IL-6 in MM cells. Well, even if you don’t understand every single detail of the above, no matter: all we need to know is that the above-mentioned reduction is a very very GOOD thing.
The researchers also examined the interaction of saw palmetto with a chemo drug used in the treatment of myeloma and other types of cancer: docetaxel. I was not surprised to read that the anti-myeloma activity of this drug was enhanced by saw palmetto through inhibition of STAT 3 signaling.
Discussion: In this study, we found for the first time that Serenoa repens down-regulated the phosphorylated form of STAT 3 in U266 cells. Also, IL-6-induced the level of phosphorylated form of STAT 3 and ERK were reduced after Serenoa repens treatment in U266 cells. Again, it doesn’t matter if we don’t understand what the process of phosphorylation entails. The point is: this is very good news for us.
This leads us straight to the researchers’ final statement: In summary, we found that Serenoa repens was an important phytotherapeutic drug against multiple myeloma cells through inhibition of STAT 3 signaling. Serenoa repens may be useful as an adjunctive therapeutic agent for treatment of individuals with multiple myeloma and other types of cancer in which STAT 3 signaling is activated.
Okay, I am convinced. I am going to begin taking saw palmetto today. Just to be cautious, though, I will take it at a different time of day than my curcumin/fish oil. Let the experiment begin! Oh, I see it’s time to feed my cats…I had been wondering why they were walking across the desk, waving their tails in my face…I had better stop here. Ciao!