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31/03/2010

Papaya has anti-cancer effects

(NaturalNews) Originally native to southern Mexico and now cultivated in many tropical countries (including Brazil, India, Indonesia, South Africa, Vietnam and Sri Lanka), the papaya plant has been touted by traditional healers for centuries as a source of powerful medicine. Not only is papaya fruit delicious and loaded with vitamins and phytochemicals, but other parts of the plant have been used historically to treat health problems, too. Now University of Florida (UF) researcher Dr. Nam Dang and his colleagues in Japan have announced new evidence that the papaya fights cancer cells. In fact, they discovered that an extract made from dried papaya leaves produced a dramatic anti-cancer effect against a broad range of tumors grown in the laboratory -- including cancers of the cervix, breast, liver, lung and pancreas.

The study, recently published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, not only showed that papaya has a direct anti-tumor effect on a variety of malignancies, but it also documented for the first time that papaya leaf extract increases the production of key signaling molecules called Th1-type cytokines. That's important because this regulation of the immune system raises the strong possibility that the use of papaya could help the body's own immune system to overcome cancers. In addition, it suggests papaya could be helpful in treating or preventing other health problems such as inflammation and autoimmune diseases.

The research team found that papaya's anti-cancer effects were strongest when cancer cells received larger doses of the papaya leaf extract -- yet, unlike many mainstream cancer therapies, there were no toxic effects at all on normal cells. In a statement to the media, Dr. Dang pointed out that the ability of papaya extract to stop cancer without toxicity is consistent with reports from indigenous populations in Australia and in his native Vietnam.

"Based on what I have seen and heard in a clinical setting, nobody who takes this extract experiences demonstrable toxicity; it seems like you could take it for a long time -- as long as it is effective," stated Dr. Dang, who is a professor of medicine and the medical director of the UF Shands Cancer Center Clinical Trials Office.

In all, the UF scientists exposed 10 different types of cancer cell cultures to four strengths of papaya leaf extract. When they measured the effect of the extract after 24 hours, the papaya had slowed the growth of tumors in all the cultures.

What exactly does papaya do to halt malignancies? To find out, the researchers focused on a T-lymphoma cancer cell line. They discovered that at least one of the mechanisms that makes papaya extract a potent anti-cancer weapon is the natural compound's ability to cause malignant cells -- but not normal ones -- to die.

The researchers hope to follow up these experiments by eventually testing the papaya cancer treatment in animal and human studies. Up next for Dr. Dang and his colleagues: they've applied to patent a process to distill the papaya extract through the University of Tokyo and they are working to identify all the specific compounds in the papaya extract that are active against cancer cells. To this end, Dr. Dang has partnered with Hendrik Luesch, a UF Shands Cancer Center professor of medicinal chemistry who is an expert in the identification and use of natural products for medical purposes. Dr. Luesch recently discovered yet another natural cancer fighter -- a coral reef compound that blocks cancer cell growth in cell lines.

For more information:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/...
http://www.healingfoodreference.com...
http://www.naturalnews.com/026372_c...

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