Prostate Cancer May Soon Be Treated with Natural Extracts
It is generally believed that one of the best ways to prevent cancer is eating healthy and enjoying an active lifestyle. But when cancer sets in, the usual treatment courses tend to neglect the potentially therapeutic role of food. In reality, many foods contain compounds that, when isolated, reveal powerful anti-carcinogenic and anti-inflammatory properties. Some of these substances can fend off tumor growth on their own. Scientists from the University of Texas at Austin have identified three natural compounds that can stop prostate cancer progression, so far in mice though. However, the result of the study shows how natural and non-toxic treatments may be much easier to come by than typically thought.
Blocking glutamine with phytochemicals
After testing 142 compounds on prostate cancer cells, scientists set apart the three most promising and tested them on mice. Resveratrol, curcumin and ursolic acid, found in grapes, turmeric and apple peels respectively, successfully halted the progression of prostate cancer in mice. More specifically, ursolic acid in combination with one of the other two chemicals deprived the cancerous cells of glutamine. Given that glutamine fuels cancer cell growth, the disease progression was halted as it became deficient in an ‘essential nutrient’. It shouldn’t be surprising to observe such anti-cancer aptitude from natural chemicals given that these are the products of millions of years of evolution and refinement.
Stefano Tiziani, one of the authors of the study, highlights that these chemicals are readily available, and using them for therapeutic purposes such as cancer treatment could be merely a matter of increasing the concentration.
As more research uncovers progressively more possibilities with natural extracts, significantly cheaper alternatives to current cancer treatments would naturally be something to expect in the future. These results also give more importance to the role of a healthy diet as a preventive measure given that these chemicals come from foods people eat.
Medical nutrition therapy
While this study doesn’t necessarily document the direct use of food in cancer treatment, it does suggest that the medical nutrition therapy is a field with a huge potential to grow. Tailoring one’s diet in a way that creates a therapeutic effect is generally reserved for diabetes and a few other conditions, but it may have potential to treat many other types of diseases. In parallel, the therapeutic properties of these natural extracts could be easily exploited with nutritional supplements.