Food Derived Compounds Block Prostate Cancer Growth

Compounds found in turmeric, red grapes, and apple peels block cancer cells from accessing nutrients need to grow and survive.

Specific natural food compounds may inhibit the growth of prostate cancer, a new study suggests.

For the past decade, cancer research has pointed towards the potential use of compounds derived from plants and foods, including apple peels, green tea, and turmeric. These compounds help minimize inflammation in the body, a risk factor for cancer.

In a study published in Precision Oncology, investigators tested 142 natural compounds on mouse and human cell lines to determine which compounds could inhibit prostate cancer cell growth when used alone or in combination with other nutrients.

“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,” said corresponding author Stefano Tiziani. “The beauty of this study is that we were able to inhibit tumor growth in mice without toxicity.”

The investigators identified ursolic acid, a natural chemical found in apple peels and rosemary; curcumin, a compound in turmeric; and resveratrol, a natural compound in red grapes or berries, as the most promising active ingredients and tested them on animal models.

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

The study also showed that combining ursolic acid with either curcumin or resveratrol can prevent cancer cells from accessing crucial nutrients needed to survive. In other words, through nutrients commonly found in the human diet, the compounds can block the uptake of glutamine, which prostate cancer cells need to grow.