A new research has found that several natural compounds found in food could help to slow the growth of prostate cancer, a common cancer affecting men.

Carried out by the University of Texas at Austin in the US, the new study used a unique analytical approach.

Researchers screened a variety of plant-based chemicals, instead of testing a single chemical like many other studies.

The first part of the research involved testing 142 natural compounds found in foods on mouse and human cells, to see which inhibited the growth of prostate cancer cells either when administered alone or in combination with another nutrient.

Researchers found these promising compounds for their next stage of testing:

Ursolic acid – found in apple peel and rosemary

Curcumin – the plant compound in turmeric

Resveratrol – a natural compound found in red grapes or berries.

The team found that combining ursolic acid with either curcumin or resveratrol blocked the uptake of glutamine by cancer cells in mice, a nutrient the cells need in order to grow.

“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,” explained one of the study’s authors Stefano Tiziani, “The beauty of this study is that we were able to inhibit tumour growth in mice without toxicity.”

Other previous studies have also found that various chemicals found in foods such as turmeric, apple peels and green tea could potentially be beneficial in helping to ward off cancer, by minimising one of the risk factors for disease, inflammation within the body.

People who have chronic inflammation, for example from chronic infection, autoimmune disease or conditions such as obesity have a higher cancer risk because of damage to normal cells.

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

The findings are published in the journal Precision Oncology. – AFP Relaxnews