Recently, zinc emerged as an important signaling molecule, activating intracellular pathways and regulating cell fate, although our knowledge remains incomplete. Zinc is required in many enzymatic and metabolic pathways, playing roles as enzyme cofactors. In normal cell physiology, optimal zinc availability is essential for regular growth and proliferation. Zinc accumulation has varied effects: from stimulation to inhibition of cell growth, depending on type. There is evidence that zinc is capable of inducing apoptosis in some cancers, while others proved that zinc may act as apoptosis activator depending on the dose and cell type. Upregulation of telomerase in most cancer tissues is considered to be responsible for unlimited proliferation of cancer cells, and in some cell lines, it was induced by Zn. These suggest that Zn is highly involved in cell cycle and metabolism; whether it goes to the survival or the cancer pathway depends on the concentration and the cell type involved. Nevertheless, the conclusion is that Zn is not just another trace element; but a vital one and further studies are needed to elucidate the mechanisms involved in cancer and metastatic spread in order to identify potential therapies.
Part of the book: Nutritional Deficiency
Glycine max (L) Merrill, better known as soy or soybean, is a legume of asian origin considered an excellent biotype, given the fact that it contains almost everything the human being needs for the diet. Its cultivation worldwide is one of the most important, and soy itself and its derivatives are highly on demand. The health effects of soy derived foods have been investigated for more than 25 years, and some of them remain controversial. On the other hand, we wondered if soy could be used to ameliorate the toxic effects of heavy metals. Therefore, in this chapter we review general characteristics of soy as well as its nutritional potential, and we compiled the newest information about the health effects of soy. In order to test our hypothesis, we developed a model of animals exposed to cadmium, and we gave them a soy based diet, comparing it with a casein-based diet as control. This allowed us to collect information about its effect on the respiratory and nervous system. Among the results of this review, we show that it reduces the cholesterol level and obesity while also having antidiabetic effects. We enumerate the benefits of soy-based diets on the respiratory system, such as protection against lung cancer and radiotherapy, better lung function in asthma patients and protection against cadmium intoxication. In the cardiovascular system it reduces the risk of coronary heart disease, improves blood pressure, glycemic control, and inflammation while it reduces not all but some of the alterations induced by cadmium exposure on the aorta and heart. It apparently promotes neurogenesis, improves cognitive functions, and reduces the oxidative stress and apoptosis induced by cadmium exposure in the cerebellum. Taken all together, this information let us conclude that soy consumption would exhibit numerous benefits for human health, although future studies should try to elucidate the best outcome considering variables such as gender, age, treatment duration and dosage of soy products consumption in the diet.
Part of the book: Legumes Research