Nutrition and Cancer Prevention
CHAPTER 16: Nutrition, (Cancer-)Stem Cells and Cancer Prevention
Published:27 Nov 2019
Stem cells possess the unique properties of self-renewal, indefinite proliferation capacity as well as the ability to differentiate into different cellular lineages. These intrinsic properties placed stem cells in the focus of research for diverse medical applications during the last decades. However, several of these properties are also crucial for tumor development and progression. Based on these observations, the so-called cancer stem cell (CSC) hypothesis emerged to become a central dogma in cancer research. The hypothesis infers that the “evil twin” of adult stem cells, the CSCs, quiescently rest at the apex of tumor formation and, upon activation by adequate stimuli, induce tumor formation. Besides tumor initiation, CSCs are held responsible for seeding of distant metastasis and relapse as well as chemoresistance. These properties render CSCs highly attractive targets for therapeutic as well as preventive approaches. Given the unique characteristics of CSCs, as well as their longevity, it is now generally accepted that CSCs are highly affected by environmental processes and dietary factors. This chapter summarizes our current understanding of CSCs, with a particular focus on the importance of nutrition for induction, progression and targeting of CSCs. We will also delineate how dietary interventions might be explored for preventive approaches.