Better screening services and early detection have drastically improved survival rates, but the disease remains incurable. What’s more, the cells of malignant tumours must be treated early to prevent invasion to neighbouring tissue. Researchers have explored various avenues in a bid to tackle the disease, and many believe natural compounds may have antidotal value. According to their research, a cocktail of six plant compounds that contain cancer-killing cells could stop the disease from spreading, by regulating hormones and inflammation.
In early research published in the Journal of Cancer, researchers found that six natural compounds killed 100 percent of sample breast cancer cells when combined.
The compounds were sourced from an array of vegetables, fruits, spices, and plant roots.
Leader of the study Madhya Raj, PhD, Research professor in Obstetric and Gynaecology at the LSU Health Sciences Centre in New Orleans, said: “One of the primary causes of both the recurrence of breast cancer and deaths is a small group of cancer stem cells that evade therapy.
“The often multi-drug-resistant cells have the ability to generate new tumours, so it is critically important to develop new approaches to more effective and safer treatment or prevention of breast cancer.”
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For their study, researchers looked at compounds renowned for having protective phytonutrients, before settling upon six.
The six compounds were curcumin (turmeric), isoflavone (soybeans), indo-3-carbinol (cruciferous plants, C-phycocyanin (spirulina), resveratrol (grapes) and quercetin (found in fruits, vegetables and tea).
There is substantial evidence that each of these compounds plays a role in inducing tumour cell death, but the study suggests they may work more effectively when combined.
To probe their efficacy, researchers examined each compound independently on both breast cancer cells and control cells.
Applied alone, the effects of each compound was insignificant.
When combined, however, the phytonutrients suppressed breast cancer cell growth by more than 80 percent.
The cocktail appeared to inhibit the migration and invasion of cells, and trigger a reaction which led to the death of 100 percent of the cancer cells in the sample.
What’s more, in previous research, the team had shown that two of the compounds synergised effectively to kill variant cancer cells.
Cancerous cells rely on oestrogen to develop and grow, so treatments are largely aimed at preventing hormone receptors from binding to oestrogen.
Another cancer-protective mechanism credited to plants is their ability to block inflammation.
Chronic inflammation is a known precursor for many diseases, but its contribution to cancer is significant as it directly damages DNA cells.
As damaged cells proliferate, they eventually form malignant tumours, which continue to spread to neighbouring tissue.