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Fruit and veg compounds could provide new cancer treatments

August 23, 2007

Scientists now believe compounds that colour fruits and vegetables could provide new cancer treatments in future, reports the Daily Mail.

Experiments on rat and human cells by researchers based at Ohio State University in the US show that anthocyanins found in red, purple and blue plant foods can significantly slow the growth of colon cancer.

Among the discoveries made by the Ohio team was that potency of anti-cancer properties in fruit and vegetables varies considerably. They also discovered that adding an extra sugar or acid molecule changed the biological activity of the compounds, making some of them more effective against cancer.

Some of the fruit and vegetables studied not only halted cancer cell growth but actually killed off cancer cells. Purple corn and chokeberry pigments, for example, killed 20% of cancer cells while having little effect on healthy cells.

Previous research carried out at the same university found that black raspberries may curb the growth of both colon and oesophagus cancer.

Dr Monica Giusti, lead researcher on the latest study, said: “There are more than 600 different anthocyanins found in nature. While we know that the concentration of anthocyanins in the gastro-intestinal tract is ultimately affected by their chemical structures, we’re just beginning to scratch the surface of understanding how the body absorbs and uses these different structures.â€