Foods that Starve Prostate Cancer

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The tastiest, if not the most effective, way to combat prostate cancer may already be growing in your garden. New research has determined that grapes, apples and turmeric among other foods are powerhouses in the fight against the disease that will affect one man in seven.

Scientists from the University of Texas at Austin drilled through 142 natural compounds to determine which thwarted prostate cancer cell growth when administered alone or in combination with another food.

"After screening a natural compound library, we developed an unbiased look at combinations of nutrients that have a better effect on prostate cancer than existing drugs," says corresponding author Stefano Tiziani, assistant professor in the Department of Nutritional Sciences and Dell Pediatric Research Institute at UT Austin. "The beauty of this study is that we were able to inhibit tumor growth in mice without toxicity."

The researchers first tested all 142 phyto-compounds on mouse and human cell lines, then the most promising active ingredients were tested on model animals. These included ursolic acid, a waxy natural chemical found in apple peels and rosemary; curcumin, the bright yellow plant compound in turmeric; and resveratrol, a natural compound common to red grapes.

"These nutrients have potential anti-cancer properties and are readily available," says Tiziani. "We only need to increase concentration beyond levels found in a healthy diet for an effect on prostate cancer cells."

Ursolic acid, found its its highest naturally-forming concentration in apple peels, is also present in basil, blueberries, cranberries, elder flower, peppermint, rosemary, lavender, oregano, thyme, hawthorn, and prunes. Curcumin, a member of the ginger family, is also sold as a popular herbal supplement. Resveratrol is a naturally-occurring phenol found in mulberries, raspberries and blueberries, as well as the skin of red grapes.

What's the science? In the case of ursolic acid, when it is combined with either curcumin or resveratrol it restricts the prostate cancer cells consuming the glutamine they need for fuel.

The research has been published in Precision Oncology.