Once again the anti-cancer benefits of a natural food is being touted by researchers. MesotheliomaHelp has reported on the benefits of various spices and plant extracts, such as olive leafs, chili peppers, and the sea cucumber. Now, researchers report that all forms of nuts may be effective in causing cancer cell death. The hope is that this discovery will lead to developing drugs that will be effective in fighting treatment-resistant cancers like mesothelioma.
In a Feb. 6 press release, researchers from Friedrich Schiller University Jena of Germany report that while they knew of the cardiovascular and the weight-loss benefits of nuts, they wanted to find if the nuts could benefit cancer patients. The team of nutritionists first had to understand the workings behind the positive effects of nuts on the body.
“For a long time now we have known that nuts are full of substances that are good for the heart and the cardiovascular system, or that protect against becoming overweight or developing diabetes,” says Dr Wiebke Schlörmann from the Department of Nutritional Toxicology at the University of Jena in the press release. “What we have not known in detail up to now is what this protective effect of nuts is based on.”
Looking at colon cancer in the study, the researchers found that any of five kinds of nuts, macadamia nuts, hazelnuts, walnuts, almonds and pistachios, activated the body’s immune system. Specifically, after simulating digestion of nuts in the lab, the team found that the protective enzymes that fight off DNA damage that can lead to cancer are increased. In addition, the digestion products induced apoptosis, or programmed cell death in the cancer cells.
Mesothelioma, an asbestos-caused cancer, like many cancers, is resistant to standard treatments, and, thus, the cells thrive. Apoptosis is often referred to as cell suicide because when cells are damaged they sacrifice themselves to prevent damaging additional cells. However, in cancer, the process goes amok and the diseased cells continue to divide and grow.
“The body has a whole series of protective mechanisms that render reactive oxygen species harmless,” said Dr Schlörmann. “We were able to show this effect is mediated by all the types of nuts studied,” added Prof. Michael Glei, who led the study.
Previous studies have linked high protein/low carbohydrate diets as effective in fighting cancer by slowing tumor growth. Peanut butter and nuts are high in protein, thus, increasing nut intake can be one way to help fight the effects of mesothelioma. Talk to your physician to see if including more nuts or nut-based foods in your diet may help in your mesothelioma care.
Read the full study in the Jan. 12 issue of Molecular Carcinogenesis.