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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2012, Article ID 306346, 11 pages
Review Article

Cancer, Inflammation, and Insights from Ayurveda

1Department of Biotechnology, Indian Institute of Technology Madras, Chennai 600 036, India
2Symbiosis School of Biomedical Sciences, Symbiosis International University, Pune 412115, India

Received 1 December 2011; Revised 9 April 2012; Accepted 7 May 2012

Academic Editor: Tieraona Low Dog

Copyright © 2012 Venil N. Sumantran and Girish Tillu. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


A recent, exciting discovery relates to the concept of “shared pathology” between cancer and metabolic syndrome. One major pathway common to cancer and metabolic syndrome is chronic inflammation, which is a major driving force in carcinogenesis. Indeed, chronic inflammation precedes most cancers and is considered a “hallmark” of the neoplastic process. We discuss molecular and biochemical evidence which links diet, obesity, abnormal lipid metabolism, and type 2 diabetes mellitus with chronic inflammation. We also explain how each of these factors is linked with biochemical aberrations of carcinogenesis and the prevalence and risk of cancer. While there are reliable biomarkers for chronic inflammation, there are few markers for a mechanistic link between early inflammation and digestive disorders. Discovery of such a marker could lead to identification of a new subtype of patients with digestive disorders that predispose them to cancer and/or metabolic syndrome. In this context, we discuss the ayurvedic concept of “Ama” which is thought to be a toxic, proinflammatory waste-product of improper digestion. We then develop hypotheses and outline preclinical and clinical experiments designed to prove whether “Ama” can serve as a novel and reliable biomarker that links abnormal digestive status, with the onset of chronic inflammation.