Significance: Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States. Considering the quality of life and treatment cost, the best way to fight against cancer is to prevent or suppress cancer development. Cancer is preventable as indicated by human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccination and tamoxifen/raloxifen treatment in breast cancer prevention. The activities of superoxide dismutases (SODs) are often lowered during early cancer development, making it a rational candidate for cancer prevention.
Recent advances: SOD liposome and mimetics have been shown to be effective in cancer prevention animal models. They've also passed safety tests during early phase clinical trials. Dietary supplement-based SOD cancer prevention provides another opportunity for antioxidant-based cancer prevention. New mechanistic studies have revealed that SOD inhibits not only oncogenic activity, but also subsequent metabolic shifts during early tumorigenesis.
Critical issues: Lack of sufficient animal model studies targeting specific cancers; and lack of clinical trials and support from pharmaceutical industries also hamper efforts in further advancing SOD-based cancer prevention.
Future directions: To educate and obtain support from our society that cancer is preventable. To combine SOD-based therapeutics with other cancer preventive agents to obtain synergistic effects. To formulate a dietary supplementation-based antioxidant approach for cancer prevention. Lastly, targeting specific populations who are prone to carcinogens, which can trigger oxidative stress as the mechanism of carcinogenesis.