British researchers have scientifically proven that broccoli, turmeric, green tea and pomegranate help fight the most common cancer in men in the United States and the United Kingdom – prostate cancer.
Professor Robert Thomas, who works as an oncologist at Bedford Hospital and Addenbrooke’s, part of Cambridge University Hospitals, and team conducted a six-month human study involving 203 adult males, all of them with prostate cancer.
The men were split into two groups:
They all took a capsule each day, with either the target ingredients (called “Pomi-t”) or placebo. After six months, the researchers found that PSA levels were 63% lower among those taking capsules containing essence of pomegranate, turmeric, green tea and broccoli compared to those in the placebo group.
PSA (prostate-specific antigen) is a protein produced by prostate cells. A blood test can measure PSA levels, which may help detect early prostate cancer.
People with prostate cancer have higher and rising blood-PSA levels. The PSA blood test only helps doctors decide whether to carry further tests, such as biopsies, to determine whether a patient might have prostate cancer – it is not a definitive test. Some patients may have higher than normal PSA levels and no malignancy.
This study was a “double-blind” one – neither the doctors nor the participants knew who were taking dummy capsules (placebo) or Pomi-t ones.
Not only did the Pomi-t capsules significantly control PSA levels, there were also virtually no adverse effects.
Previous studies, which had focused on putting minerals, lycopene and vitamins extracted from foods into supplements, found that they did more harm than good.
Laboratory tests and very small randomized trials had demonstrated the anti-cancer effects of polyphenol-rich foods, such as broccoli, turmeric, green tea and pomegranate. This study, Prof. Thomas explained, is the first to clearly establish an influence on cancer progression markers within a scientifically robust evaluation.
Thomas and team presented their findings at the ASCO (American Society of Clinical Oncology) conference, Chicago, Illinois.
Professor Thomas said:
“Our experience in offering high-quality clinical care, collaboration with cancer charities and world-class research with the University of Cambridge has resulted in findings which will have a worldwide impact. We hope this will help millions of men to help combat the onset of prostate cancer. At the Primrose Unit in Bedford there is a long track record of designing and evaluating lifestyle strategies so this was a natural progression.
“Healthy eating and lifestyle is the main way of helping to combat the development of cancer but men can now also turn to a whole food supplement which has been shown to work.”
Previous studies have demonstrated pomegranate’s qualities:
- Pomegranate helps stop prostate cancer from spreading – scientists from the University of California identified components in pomegranate juice that help prevent prostate cancer metastasis.
- Pomegranate has benefits for dialysis patients – scientists from the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa, Israel, in preliminary studies, found that pomegranate juice may help ward off several complications for kidney disease patients who are on dialysis, including the high morbidity rate due to cardiovascular disease and infections.
- Pomegranate compounds may help halt breast cancer growth – a study conducted at the University of California Los Angeles found that pomegranates carry six compounds which appear to stop the growth of hormone-dependent breast cancer by blocking aromatase, an enzyme that changes androgen to estrogen. The scientists warned that theirs was an in vitro study that has not been tested on animals or humans.
The health benefits of broccoli have also been extensively studied, particularly two components, sulforaphane and myrosinase:
- Broccoli’s enzyme myrosinase has powerful anti-cancer properties – in order to maintain good myrosinase levels, the broccoli needs to be lightly steamed, say researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana.
- Broccoli contains sulforaphane which protects from arthritis – a team of investigators from the University of East Anglia, England, carried out a study on broccoli’s ingredient, sulforaphane, which blocks the enzymes that cause joint destruction in osteoarthritis, the most common type of arthritis. It has yet to be determined whether broccoli contains enough sulforaphane to make any significant difference.
- Broccoli component, sulforaphane, may prevent or treat breast cancer – scientists from the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center injected mice with cancer with varying concentrations of sulforaphane from broccoli extract. They found that the number of cancer stem cells went down significantly. They also found the cancer cells were not able to generate new tumors.
- Broccoli component, sulforaphane, may slow the progress of COPD – scientists from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore reported that sulforaphane raises the activity of a gene that protects the lungs against oxidative damage caused by COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), a disease commonly developed by regular long-term smokers.
Several studies have focused on the spice turmeric, particularly its primary component, curcumin:
- Turmeric helps suppress head and neck cancer growth – Dr. Marilene Wang and team from UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center carried out a pilot study which showed that curcumin suppresses a cell signaling pathway that promotes the growth of head and neck cancers.
Dr. Marilene Wang said “The inhibition of the cell signaling pathway also correlated with reduced expression of a number of pro-inflammatory cytokines, or signaling molecules, in the saliva that promote cancer growth. This study shows that curcumin can work in the mouths of patients with head and neck malignancies and reduce activities that promote cancer growth. And it not only affected the cancer by inhibiting a critical cell signaling pathway, it also affected the saliva itself by reducing pro-inflammatory cytokines within the saliva.”
- Turmeric and cinnamon reduce the body’s negative response to high-fat meals – Professor Sheila West and colleagues, from Pennsylvania State University, discovered that people who eat a diet rich in spices, particularly cinnamon and turmeric, have less negative responses to high-fat meals – their blood levels of triglycerides (type of fat) do not end up being as high as other people’s on high-fat diets.
- Turmeric may correct cystic fibrosis defect – turmeric’s primary component, curcumin, was found to correct the cystic fibrosis defect in laboratory mice, scientists at the Hospital for Sick Children and Yale University School of Medicine reported.
There have been dozens of studies on green tea, many of them reporting on the important benefits for human health of epigallocatechin-3 gallate, the tea’s main component:
- Green tea (and coffee) reduce stroke risk – people who drink green tea (and/or coffee) regularly have a lower risk of stroke, researchers from Japan’s National Cerebral and Cardiovascular Center found after carrying out a study involving 83,269 Japanese adults aged from 45 to 74 years.
- Green tea can benefit spacial awareness and memory – Yun Bai, from the Third Military Medical University, Chongqing, China, and colleagues reported that EGCG (epigallocatechin-3 gallate), an organic chemical and main ingredient in green tea, when consumed regularly helps people’s memory and spacial awareness.
- Green tea reduces the risk of functional disability in old age – a team of researchers from Tohoku University Graduate School of Medicine, Sendai, Japan, found that long-term regular green tea drinkers were less likely to develop functional disability during old age. They added that the more green tea people drank the lower their risk.
Written by Christian Nordqvist