Effects of Food-Associated Agents on Inflammation, Metabolic Disease, and Cancer


By Esther Haugabrooks posted 03-17-2016 08:55


If cancer and metabolic disease are not one of the biggest and rapidly rising medical issues, I don’t know what is—I say this primarily because I am not a medical expert; although, I would like to perceive myself as a person well-acquainted with Google. This concept was confirmed in the SOT platform session “Effects of Food-Associated Agents on Inflammation, Metabolic Disease, and Cancer.”

This platform session represented a diverse range of topics relative to food-associated agents, tackling some of the top leading diseases worldwide that are heavily associated with inflammation, such as lung cancer and diabetes. In addition, presenters covered mechanistic probing experiments on the effect of dietary components or contaminates on inflammation.

The highlights of each presentation (Abstracts #2587-2593) can be summarized as:

  • Use of funugreek seed extracts to improve symptoms of type II diabetes (presented by Debasis Bagchi);
  • Unlikely adverse interactions between imidacloprid, a pesticide, and dietary fat (presented by Quancai Sun);
  • Non-reproducible results that carrageenan, a food additive, is a pro-inflammatory (presented by James McKim);
  • Reduced risk of lung cancer observed in connection to serum lycopene from a NHANES cohort (presented by Sewuese Akuse);
  • Genotoxicity of alkenylbenzenes, flavor compounds, by formation of DNA adducts in rat hepatocytes (presented by Alexander Cartus);
  • Genotoxicity of Ginko biloba, a popular dietary supplement, through topoisomerase II DNA damage (presented by Nan Mei); and
  • Anti-genotoxic, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant activity of Chrysobalanus icaco L., an exotic fruit (presented by Vinicius Venancio).

One of these interesting presentations was by James McKim. Although each presentation was vastly different, I found McKim’s presentation summarized three important points critical to the theme of the session: 1) how scientists should cautiously interpret experimental research results when extrapolating to human dietary exposures; 2) how scientific communities need to encourage experimental reproducibility; and 3) the importance of publications with negative or no response data.

Concerning carrageenan literature, McKim states there are two large opposing bodies of evidence—an aspect familiar to many areas of science. He explains there is a need to understand which body is correct. McKim and colleagues reconstructed an in vitro experiment which found carrageenan was a pro-inflammatory food additive. Using the same cell model, they did not find the same effects. McKim hopes to encourage reproducibility among labs in order to identify what is the real event. In his presentation, McKim suggests laboratories achieve reproducibility by adherence to Good Laboratory Practices (GLP), complete characterization of experimental materials, and reducing confounding or contaminating factors.

Collectively, the session established the need to define the effect of various dietary intakes to prevalent diseases. Thereby, each speaker challenged the audience to ask questions such as:

  • Are unintentional contaminates, like pesticide residues, aiding in metabolic disorders?
  • When dietary components are statically associated with reduced risk of disease, can a causal relationship be postulated for the dietary component or a dietary pattern?
  • Can animal models that have different digestive anatomies be appropriate models to address metabolic pathways from human dietary exposure?

There was not one presenter that went without several questions from the audience. As I quietly sat amongst approximately 100 people and listed to the presenters, I found their ability to engage audience participation as a testament to the importance of food and nutritional toxicology. Questions and comments ranged from alternative methodology to personal experiences with food additives. It seemed that the diverse SOT attendees were all intrigued with ways to advance the current understanding of dietary components improving human health status.

As previously mentioned, I attended this session as a novice in the mechanisms of inflammation as it is related to diet. In my assessment, this session was a great opportunity to listen to current research in the field and to learn mechanisms of inflammation as related to components of the diets.