Miscellaneous actions of phytoghemicals

Salicylates are irreversible inhibitors of cyclo-oxygenase, and hence inhibit the synthesis of thromboxane A2 and have an anticoagulant action. They occur in many fruits (and red wine) in amounts similar to the dose of aspirin recommended to prevent excessive blood clotting in patients at risk of thrombosis.

The allyl sulphur compounds (section 7.5.2.1) in garlic inhibit platelet coagulation, and again have a potentially beneficial effect with respect to thrombosis.

Terpenes such as limonene (in peel oil of citrus fruits and aromatic oils of caraway, dill, etc.), myrecene (in nutmeg) and zingiberine (in ginger) are polyisoprene derivatives (see Figure 7.23). They inhibit isoprenylation of the P21-ras oncogene product; isoprenylation is essential for action of the ras protein, which is known to be associated with pancreatic cancer.

Genistein (but not other phyto-oestrogens) inhibits cell proliferation by inhibiting the tyrosine kinase activity of the epithelial growth factor receptor.

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