What You Eat Can Play A Role in Preventing Cancer

New research has shown that several natural compounds found in food, including turmeric, apple peels, and red grapes, could prevent the growth of prostate cancer, the most common cancer in U.S. men. The research 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, the researchers developed an unbiased look at combinations of nutrients that have a better effect on prostate cancer than existing drugs. The researchers were able to inhibit tumor growth in mice without any toxicity.

During the past decade, other cancer research has shown that the chemicals found in foods such as turmeric, apple peels and green tea could be beneficial against cancer. These compounds reduce inflammation within the body and this reduction helps ward off cancer. Those with chronic inflammation have a higher cancer risk because of damage to normal cells.

The researchers 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 tested on model animals. The researchers found those to be ursolic acid, a natural chemical found in apple peels and rosemary; curcumin, the yellow plant compound in turmeric; and resveratrol, a natural compound common to red grape. The researchers said that they only need to increase concentration of these ingredients beyond levels found in a healthy diet for an effect on prostate cancer cells.

The researchers also shed a light on how the plant-based chemicals work together. Combining ursolic acid with either curcumin or resveratrol prevents cancer cells from using glutamine.

It would be interesting to see if the research could be applied to other types of cancers and what its effect is on oral health. Nevertheless the research demonstrate that blocking the uptake of a nutrient needed by prostate cancer cells can be achieved by nutrients commonly in the human diet.


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).

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