Pharmacogenomics

Cancer Patients – a knowledge of Pharmacogenomics can Save your Life!

How you metabolise igestibles makes a difference to what your body can do with your diets, nutrition, supplements and of course; pharmaceuticals. You may have heard the saying: You are what you eat!

Put simply – pharmaco-genomics when applied to nutrition would state: Yes, you are what you eat, but more accurately you are what your body can metabolise.  

People are different because of their genetic make-up. These differences are made up of variations in proteins inherited from their parental genes or developed through mutations. A food effect can be positive or negative, and it can be quite significant.

Generally, foods can either interfere with the body’s ability to absorb a medication, reducing the dose received, or they can increase absorption, which can improve availability of the drug or pose the risk of toxicity.

Following Video - A Mayo Clinic patient discusses the importance of Pharmacogenomic (PGx) testing for herself and 19 extended family members.

You may be surprised to know that the same is true for many natural health products & supplements.

Enter the Minefield of Interactions: 

When patients understand the importance and relevance of how their metabolism can influence treatment outcomes; they are more likely to keep their healing program simple!

Failure of pharmaceutical drugs to be effective as well as excess toxicity from taking a pharmaceutical drug may not be related to the drug type or dose – but supplements that a patient is taking or cancer “cure” diets they are consuming.

This can be a significant stumbling blocks especially when patients either self-prescribe or take advice from naturopaths or health professionals who are not aware of the principle s of pharmacogenomics. 

Researchers have found that many phytochemical constituents in natural health products have the potential to significantly alter the bioavailability, absorption, distribution, and excretion of prescription drugs in the same way as foods by interfering with drug-metabolizing enzyme systems.  

Enter the field of pharmacogenomics.

Pharmacogenomics, a science which explores people’s drug response based on their genetic make-up and lifestyle, offers clinical tests to identify many of the differences in each person’s cytochrome P450 enzymes, so that the correct drug, amount and frequency may be prescribed from the start for maximum beneficial effects with minimum side-effects.

Grapefruit juice (& its compounds) are among the most extensively studied foods and beverages for their effects on the metabolism and action of prescription drugs.

Recent research has found that other foods, including pomegranates, Seville oranges, black pepper, cranberry juice, grape juice, black tea, beer, cruciferous vegetables, kava, licorice root, wine, and olive oil, contain compounds that modulate P450 activity and can affect drug metabolism.

But these foods’ effects are far from uniform. Just as each individual has a unique fingerprint and DNA profile, each has a unique P450 profile.

So the effect these foods have on drug metabolism varies greatly among people. In fact, There is a 100-fold variation of P450 systems among individuals, and this impacts how they metabolize drugs.

If these differences occur in the enzymes (cytochromes P450) associated with drug absorption, metabolism and elimination, the person may eliminate a drug very quickly from the body, reducing its potency and thereby requiring larger doses for therapeutic effect.

Conversely, the drug may become more potent, requiring smaller doses to avoid side-effects.

Presently, many drugs are prescribed first, and their levels adjusted later following assessment of patient’s blood levels—which may take several days.

Sometimes this is trial and error; however, you can undergo pharmacogenomics tests to identify your metabolism speed and type. At worst, when unidentified; patients can experience severe and sometimes fatal reactions as well as interactions with other medications. 

Your take-away message: 

  1. Use of complementary and alternative medicines continues to increase around the world. Many have the ability to heal or harm – the ability to predict and ultimately avoid adverse reactions with these therapies takes on a new found significance and urgency.
  2. The safest way of knowing which drugs are likely to have metabolic interactions is to understand the principles behind the interactions.
  3. Drugs, nutrients and supplements which induce or inhibit the crucial enzymes of cytochrome P450 should ring alarm bells for patients and health professionals.
  4. Knowing about your functional metabolic pathways can be life-saving..( refer to video on this page).

Keep health restoration protocols simple to avoid complex medical drug/medical – drug/drug – food/supplement interactions.