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Evidence-Based Strategy for Cancer Prevention: Advocating for the Adoption of Black Cumin (Nigella sativa) Herbal Gardens in Zimbabwe


Introduction: Cancer has become the world’s biggest killer. The developing world has not been spared of the effects, a clear sign of migration in diets and social activities and possible the effects of industrialization on clean environments for example, China. Zimbabwe and Sub-Saharan Africa have not been spared, it is reported that but 70% of cancer-related deaths are taking pace in low-to-medium-income countries (LMICs). In Zimbabwe alone, recent data points out that there was a 7% increase in the number of reported new cases (to 7018) with prostate and cervical cancer being the most frequently occurring cancers. Objective: We sought out to review the present cancer situation in Zimbabwe and in line with the national cancer strategy, advocate for low cost, evidence-based and effective ways of dealing with cancer. Methods: We reviewed Data from the WHO fact sheets and Zimbabwe Cancer Registry on the current situation and trends on cancer. Results: Zimbabwe, like any other LMIC country is faced with a growing cancer burden. The major limitations in cancer, diagnosis, therapy and care is mainly due to poor detection limitations (65%) and technically related (equipment, patient awareness and personnel (35%). Prostate cancer (9%) has recently overtaken Kaposi sarcoma (7%) as the most frequently occurring cancer in Zimbabwe among men. Among females cervical cancer remains the frequently occurring cancer (19%). In 2014, cancer emerged as the biggest cause of mortality in Zimbabwe ahead of HIV/AIDS and TB. Black Cumin (Nigella sativa) is a traditional herb that can cure a number of cancers. The active compound of Nigella sativa, Thymoquinone (TQ) was found to be active against the following listed cancer types: Blood Cancer, Breast Cancer, Pancreatic Cancer, Renal Cancer, Skin cancer, Lung Cancer, Hepatic Cancer, Colon Cancer, Fibrosarcoma and Prostate Cancer. Discussion and conclusion: The mechanism of action of Thymoquinone against cancers has been reviewed and TQ has been identified with modulation of p53 pathway, upregulating apoptosis genes p21 and Brca. We are also calling for a shift in cancer alertness in the primary healthcare systems, and the advocacy of traditional medicine, such as the black seed which has been proved to be efficacious against major cancers. We hypothesise that black seed will also be able to fight against the undocumented cancers prevalent in the poor African populations.

Noah Herbert Paul, Emma Rutendo Makozho, Ketiwe Choto, Gibson Mandikuwaza, Pricilla Chigumbu, Courtney Gwinyayi Mutambanengwe and Edson Sibanda

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