— A Special Report from Victor Marchione, MD
Here are some deliciously promising results in a study on breast cancer. Texas researchers have found that extracts from peaches and plums killed breast cancer cells, even the most aggressive kinds.
Not only did the cancerous cells die, but also no nearby healthy cells were affected. A targeted kill by fleshy fruit.
The study suggests that two polyphenols (plant-based chemicals) are responsible for the cancer cell deaths.
It was published recently in the “Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry.” The phenols are organic compounds that occur specifically in fruits. They are slightly acidic and may be associated with traits such as aroma, taste or color.
Researchers originally studied the antioxidants and phytonutrients in plums and found them to match or exceed those in the blueberry — a powerful fruit previously considered superior to other fruits in those categories.
The next step was to see if these antioxidants had any anticancer properties. They chose breast cancer, which is a major problem (to put it mildly), as it is one of the most common cancers for women. According to the National Cancer Institute, there were 192,370 new cases of breast cancer in females and 1,910 cases in males in 2009.
That year, 40,170 women and 440 men died from breast cancer. The World Health Organization reports that breast cancer accounts for 16% of the cancer deaths of women globally.
Researchers used extracts from two everyday fruits: the “Rich Lady” peach; and the “Black Splendor” plum. The extracts killed even the most aggressive cancer cell, but left normal cells alone, which is very significant. In regular chemotherapy, normal cells are killed along with cancerous ones, causing major side effects.
A closer look determined that two specific phenols — chlorogenic and neochlorogenic — were responsible for this targeted kill. Both are very common in fruits, the researchers said, but stone fruits such as plums and peaches have especially high levels.
The team said laboratory tests also confirmed that the compounds prevented cancer from growing in animals as well. The researchers want to see how these compounds could be incorporated into the growing of peaches and plums.
For now, it would certainly not hurt breast cancer patients to eat several peaches or plums each day. You never know what might happen.