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Eating turmeric, red grapes, apple peels could help ‘starve’ prostate cancer cells

If you like eating apples and grapes and enjoy curry food cooked with turmeric, relish the fact that you’re having something that could prevent or even starve cancer cells.

Eating turmeric, red grapes and apples may protect men from prostate cancer, a new research suggests. The researchers from The University of Texas at Austin also identified several other natural compounds that could stave off the growth of prostate cancer. [Read more Tomato extracts can prevent and treat stomach cancer, new study suggests]

Prostate cancer is the most common type of cancer afflicting men in the United States.

turmeric, red grapes

Previous studies have identified several natural compounds that could lower the risk of prostate cancer.

For the new study, co-author Stefano Tiziani, asst. Prof. in the Department of Nutritional Sciences at the University of Texas at Austin, and colleagues analyzed 142 compounds using a novel genetic technique to pinpoint those that could kill cancer cells.

The compounds were then tested on prostate cancer cells derived from both mice and humans, individually and in combination.

turmeric, red grapes

Compounds in turmeric, red grapes, and apple peels were the most effective

Three compounds were found to be most effective for stopping prostate cancer cell growth.

Read more Drinking 5 cups of coffee a day lowers risk of early death

“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 Prof. Tiziani.

“The beauty of this study is that we were able to inhibit tumor growth in mice without toxicity.”

turmeric, red grapes

The three compounds came from turmeric, red grapes, and apple peels. They were:

  • Curcumin, a bright yellow compound found in turmeric
  • Ursolic acid, a compound found in apple peel
  • Resveratrol, a natural compound found in red grapes and berries

Next, the researchers tested these three compounds in mouse models of prostate cancer.

Read more 10 Proven Health Benefits of Turmeric and Curcumin

The team found that when ursolic acid was combined with either curcumin or resveratrol, it halted the uptake of glutamine by prostate cancer cells, preventing tumor growth in the mice.

Glutamine, an amino acid is needed by the prostate cancer cells to grow, so stopping its uptake effectively “starves” the cancer cells to death. [Read more Drink green tea for a healthy heart, scientists suggest]

Additionally, since these were natural compounds, they didn’t have any toxic effects on the mice.

turmeric, red grapes

However, the researchers warn that the concentrations of each of the compounds found in turmeric, red grapes, and apples were much higher than what is normally consumed through diet. Still, they believe that the results show promise for a natural method to treat and prevent 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,” concludes Prof. Tiziani. [Read more Aspirin can double life expectancy of gastrointestinal cancer patients]

The study was published in the journal Precision Oncology.

turmeric, red grapes

About prostate cancer

Prostate is a gland found in men only. The gland is responsible for making some of the fluid that is part of semen. Prostate cancer happens when cells in the prostate gland start to grow uncontrollably.

The exact causes of prostate cancer are unknown, but scientists point to several risk factors for the disease. The risk factors are: Age, race/ethnicity, family history, geographic location, and gene changes. Treatments for prostate cancer include surgery, radiation therapy, hormone therapy, cryotherapy, chemotherapy, vaccine etc.

Aside from skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common form of cancer in American men. According to American Cancer Society, 161,360 new cases of prostate cancer will be diagnosed in the country in 2017. In the same year 26,730 people are expected to die from the disease in the U.S.

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Salahuddin Ahmed is a freelance medical writer and blogger, who has been writing about medicine and health for more than a decade. A former New York transplant, he now lives in his native Dhaka. He received a Bachelor's degree from the University of Louisiana and a diploma on eTechnology from NIIT, Dhaka. A voracious eater, Salahuddin only dines at restaurants that offer free refills on rice.