JUN 22, 2017 11:36 AM PDT

Plant-Based Compounds 'Starve' Prostate Cancer Cells

WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham

Scientists report that compounds found in turmeric, red grapes, and apple peels could “starve” prostate cancer cells and shrink the tumors.

Image credit: Pixabay.com

The study was prompted by the idea that plant-based compounds can thwart the growth and progression of cancer cells. In particular, some recent studies found that compound in tree nuts, tomatoes, and strawberries have the capacity to reduce cancer growth in the lab.

For this study, researchers at the University of Texas at Austin wanted to screen plant-based compounds for anticancer effects against prostate cancer - the second most common cancer among American men. Out of the 142 compounds that the team screened, they found three compounds with the highest anticancer effects. This included curcumin (found in the orange-yellow turmeric root), ursolic acid (found in apple peel), and resveratrol (found in red grapes and berries).

The team tested the compounds, alone and in combination, on prostate cancer cells from mice and humans. They observed that all possible combinations showed a reduction in prostate tumor size and weight. Further analysis revealed that the combination of the three compounds altered the tumor cells’ metabolism of glutamine, an amino acid that fuels prostate cancer growth. Specifically, the compounds appear to prevent prostate cancer cells from taking in glutamine as a nutrient, which would “starve” the cancer cells to death.

But as is the case with previous studies that link plant-based compounds to cancer-fighting potential, the dose studied in the lab is much higher than what’s present in a normal diet. Thus, the results have to be taken with a healthy dose of skepticism.

Nevertheless, the findings mark a starting point for further investigation into more natural therapies for prostate cancer. “These nutrients have potential anti-cancer properties and are readily available. We only need to increase concentration beyond levels found in a healthy diet for an effect on prostate cancer cells,” said Stefano Tiziani, the study’s senior author.

Of note, all three compounds have been previously linked as health treatments and anticancer agents in some form. Curcumin, for example, has a long history in Asian medicine as a treatment for a variety of maladies. Researchers also found that the compound has antioxidant qualities that reduce inflammation, which is a key process in cancer. Similarly, resveratrol is also a potent antioxidant that’s been linked to raising good cholesterol and lowering heart disease.

Additional source: MNT

About the Author
  • I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at TheGeneTwist.com.
You May Also Like
JUN 05, 2018
Cell & Molecular Biology
JUN 05, 2018
Mechanism of Aspirin's Anti-Colon Cancer Effects Revealed
For some people, aspirin can help prevent colon cancer; now researchers have learned more about how that happens....
JUN 27, 2018
Cancer
JUN 27, 2018
Engineered Poliovirus in Clinical Trials for Glioblastoma
Glioblastoma is a very difficult cancer to treat; researchers look to an engineered poliovirus for novel targeted approach for grade IV patients....
JUL 24, 2018
Cancer
JUL 24, 2018
FDA Approves New Drug for Refractory/Relapsed AML
A new drug and new drug class have been approved by the FDA for relapsed or refractory AML patients with an IDH1 mutation. The new drug offers options for patients....
AUG 07, 2018
Cancer
AUG 07, 2018
Renal Cell Carcinoma and Myelodysplastic Syndrome Show Epigenetic Association
DNA methylation patterns in renal cell carcinoma (RCC) have a strong association with myelodysplastic syndrome DNA hypermethylation later in life....
AUG 13, 2018
Videos
AUG 13, 2018
What does sunscreen look like with a UV camera?
  Have you ever wondered if there’s really a difference between SPF 30 and SPF 50? You’re not the only one. YouTuber Physics Girl set out...
OCT 05, 2018
Cancer
OCT 05, 2018
FDA approves a new drug for an advanced type of skin cancer
As cancer is one of the most challenging diseases in our world, many efforts have been put into researching new ways for treatment to find new drugs that could help more patients worldwide. A...
Loading Comments...