Collagen and cancer

Collagen and cancer

Collagen seems to be a major driver of cancer, influencing almost every step in the cancer process, and an inhibitor of anti-cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy, radiotherapy and immunotherapy.


Many people, especially women, take collagen supplements and collagen is the most abundant protein in animals. 


But Interactions between tumour cells and collagen influence every step of tumour development (1). Collagen is a major component of cancer tumours (2). it is found in the tumour microenvironment and enhances fibrosis.




Cancer progression is linked to changes in tumour structure and fibrosis stiffens the tumour. This in turn enhances tumour cell growth, survival and migration and a stiff structure also induces angiogenesis and hypoxia while restricting anti-tumor immune activity. Not surprisingly, tumour aggression and poor patient prognosis correlate with degree of tissue fibrosis (3).


Fibrosis can also influence tumour cell behaviour through tyrosine kinase receptors, and some signalling pathways. Cancer cell to cell messages are influenced by exosomes and microRNAsand these are also influenced by collagen.


Collagen blocks Anti-tumour activity?


Type I collagen regulates the efficacy of anti-tumour therapies such as chemotherapy, radiotherapy and immunotherapy. 


Type I collagen fragments are also accurate diagnostic markers of metastatic tumours and are important factors in cancer prognosis.  Inhibition of type I collagen synthesis has anti-cancer effects in animal studies (1). 


Anti-tumour activity of collagen?


Collagen’s effects are extremely tumour-dependent and collagen 1 has also been shown to possess antitumor activity - in certain circumstances it seems to enhance dendritic cell activity against tumours (4)


The bottom line


Collagen seems to have far more negatives than positives especially in the most recent research. Until a truly conclusive science based statement can be made, it is probably wiser to leave collagen supplements alone if you have cancer.


Go to: 10 ways to cut oestrogen naturally





  1. Targeting type I collagen for cancer treatment; Run Shi et al; Int J Cancer; 2022 Sep 1;151(5):665-683.
  2. The role of collagen in cancer: from bench to bedside; Shuaishuai Xu et al; J Trans Med; 2019 Sep 14;17(1):309.
  3. Fibrosis and cancer: A strained relationship; Bram Piersma, Mary-Kate Hayward , Valerie M Weaver; Biochim Biophys Acta Rev Cancer; 2020 Apr;1873(2):188356. doi: 10.1016/’ 
  4. Collagen I enhances the efficiency and anti-tumor activity of dendritic-tumor fusion cells; Oncoimmunology. Jia He et al;  2017; 6(12): e1361094.


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