*Red onions pack tumour-fighting punch, study reveals
*Compound in cannabis effective in destroying leukaemia
When you dine on curry and baked apples, enjoy the fact that you are eating something that could play a role starving — or even preventing — cancer.
New research from The University of Texas (UT) at Austin, United States (U.S.), identifies several natural compounds found in food, including turmeric, apple peels and red grapes, as key ingredients that could thwart the growth of prostate cancer, the most common cancer afflicting U.S. men.
Published online this week in Precision Oncology, the new paper uses a novel analytical approach to screen numerous plant-based chemicals instead of testing a single agent as many studies do, discovering specific combinations that shrink prostate cancer tumors.
“After screening a natural compound library, we developed an unbiased look at combinations of nutrients that have a better effect on prostate cancer than existing drugs,” says corresponding author Stefano Tiziani, assistant professor in the Department of Nutritional Sciences and Dell Pediatric Research Institute at UT Austin. “The beauty of this study is that we were able to inhibit tumor growth in mice without toxicity.”
During the past decade, some cancer research has highlighted the potential therapies found in plants, including chemicals found in foods such as turmeric, apple peels and green tea. These compounds minimize one of the risk factors for cancer, inflammation within the body. People who have chronic inflammation because of chronic infection, autoimmune disease or conditions such as obesity have a higher cancer risk because of damage to normal cells.
The researchers first tested 142 natural compounds on mouse and human cell lines to see which inhibited prostate cancer cell growth when administered alone or in combination with another nutrient. The most promising active ingredients were then tested on model animals: ursolic acid, a waxy natural chemical found in apple peels and rosemary; curcumin, the bright yellow plant compound in turmeric; and resveratrol, a natural compound common to red grapes or berries.
Also, in the first study to examine how effective Ontario-grown onions are at killing cancer cells, U of G researchers have found that not all onions are created equal.
Engineering professor Suresh Neethirajan and PhD student Abdulmonem Murayyan tested five onion types grown in Ontario and discovered the Ruby Ring onion variety came out on top.
Onions as a superfood are still not well known. But they contain one of the highest concentrations of quercetin, a type of flavonoid. The Guelph study revealed that the red onion not only has high levels of quercetin, but also high amounts of anthocyanin, which enriches the scavenging properties of quercetin molecules, said Murayyan, study’s lead author.
“Anthocyanin is instrumental in providing colour to fruits and vegetables so it makes sense that the red onions, which are darkest in colour, would have the most cancer-fighting power.”
Published recently in Food Research International, the study involved placing colon cancer cells in direct contact with quercetin extracted from the five different onion varieties.
Also, a research suggests a compound in cannabis is ‘significantly’ effective in destroying cancerous tumours in leukaemia.
A new study found that combining existing chemotherapy treatments with cannabinoids – the active chemicals in cannabis – had better results than chemotherapy alone.
The findings suggest that a lower dose of chemotherapy can be used on patients, minimising side effects of the treatment, say researchers.
Furthermore, scientists discovered that order the treatment was administered was crucial – using cannabinoids after chemotherapy resulted in a greater death of the blood cancer cells.
In their report, published in the International Journal of Oncology, the team note that phytocannabinoids possess ‘anticancer activity’ when used alone in treatment.
And a number of these compounds have also been shown to combine favourably with each other to kill off leukaemia cells in laboratory tests, they said.
The researchers paired different types of cannabinoids and used them in combination with the common leukemia chemotherapy drugs cytarabine and vincristine.
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