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Eating to Starve Prostate Cancer

Posted on June 20, 2017, 6 a.m. in Cancer Functional Foods Inflammation Men's Health

Researchers identify natural compounds, including turmeric, apple peels and red grapes that could thwart and maybe even prevent the growth of prostate cancer.

University of Texas at Austin researchers have found natural compounds in specific types of food can starve or even prevent cancer. These ingredients and foods include turmeric, curry, red grapes, green tea and apple peels. This is an especially important finding as prostate cancer is the most common type of cancer for men in the United States. Prostate cancer is commonly highlighted during June as it is Men's Health Month.

The Emergence of Plants for Cancer Treatment and Prevention

Cancer research across the past decade has uncovered the potential for plants to slow or even prevent the onset of cancer. Such compounds in plants reduce the risk factors for inflammation and cancer within the human body. Those who endure chronic inflammation due to autoimmune disease, chronic infection or conditions like obesity have an elevated risk for cancer due to damage to their body's normal cells.

About the Research

The University of Texas at Austin's research was recently published online in Precision Oncology. Their work involved a unique analytical approach to the screening of several plant-based chemicals. This is in contrast to testing one agent, as numerous past studies have done. The University of Texas at Austin's novel approach led to the discovery of specific ingredients and foods that starve and even prevent the onset of prostate cancer tumors.

The research group screened at a natural compound library to create an unbiased view of the nutrient combinations that have a positive effect on prostate cancer, especially compared to existing drugs. The group used mice in their study and were able to slow tumor growth without any type of toxicity.

The research team initially tested 142 natural compounds on mice as well as human cell lines to determine which compounds inhibited the growth of prostate cancer cells. These compounds were administered alone as well as in combination with other nutrients.

The active ingredients that showed the most promise were tested on animals. These ingredients include curcumin, a yellow plant compound found in turmeric. Ursolic acid is another promising active ingredient. It is a waxy compound in rosemary and apple peels. Another active ingredient that showed promise was resveratrol, a compound commonly found in berries and red grapes. Each of these nutrients has inherent anti-cancer properties and is easily available to all Americans. The key is to boost the concentration level beyond that in the typical diet in order to combat prostate cancer cells.

The research paper also shows how plant-based chemicals work with one another. The combination of ursolic acid with resveratrol or curcumin thwarts cancer cells from consuming glutamine. Glutamine consumption is necessary for cancer cells to grow. This unique approach blocks off the nutrient required by prostate cancer cells with nutrients commonly found in a healthy diet.

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Alessia Lodi, Achinto Saha, Xiyuan Lu, Bo Wang, Enrique Sentandreu, Meghan Collins, Mikhail G. Kolonin, John DiGiovanni, Stefano Tiziani. Combinatorial treatment with natural compounds in prostate cancer inhibits prostate tumor growth and leads to key modulations of cancer cell metabolism. npj Precision Oncology, 2017; 1 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41698-017-0024-z

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