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How yam extracts ‘cure’ breast cancer

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*Fasting plus vitamin C combo are efficient for hard-to-treat tumours, say researchers
*Ginger root, others relieve headaches, nausea caused by drinking too much alcohol
*Potato-derived proteins can help people develop, maintain muscle mass, study finds

A Recent study has demonstrated how white yam extracts could be used effectively to treat breast cancer tumours. The study, conducted by Dr. Joy Ifunanya Odimegwu and Prof. Olukemi Abiodun Odukoya of the Department of Pharmacognosy, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Lagos, was published in the journal bioRxiv.

The researchers concluded: “These results show that ethanolic extracts of Dioscorea rotundata tubers could be used effectively to treat breast cancer tumors and this is in sync with its diosgenin content as other Dioscorea species applied for similar treatments in Asia and elsewhere.”

The study is titled “Human Breast Tumour Cells Viability Effect of African Dioscorea rotundata Tuber Extracts in MCF-7 and MDA-MB231 Cell Lines.” Botanically called Dioscorea rotundata, white Guinea yam also called ‘half-a-yam’ belongs to the plant family Dioscoreaceae.

In Nigeria, the Anaang call it èkà èdiá (mother of yams); Berom call it kit ryáŋ; it is èmọ́wè, ígìerù, ómí in Edo; to the Efik it is afia oko (white yam), èkà biâ (mother of yams); it is dóóya general for yam in Hausa; èkò in Ibibio; it is jí ọ́chá (white yam), jí òkò in Igbo; ọ̀lẹ́ in Isoko; nwángē in Tiv; àbẹ́ in Urhobo; ààlàoko in Yoruba.

The researchers aimed to test the efficacy of edible Dioscorea species grown and consumed in Nigeria, Africa on two breast cancer cell lines; MCF-7 and MDA-MB231 derived from a luminal and a triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) respectively and to confirm safety in non-tumour cells MCF-10A using a well established cytotoxic compound paclitaxel as a standard.

Metastatic breast cancer is a prevalent cause of mortality in women around the world. Breast cancer therapies have greatly advanced in recent years, but many patients develop cancer re-occurrence and metastasis and subsequently yield to the disease because of chemoresistance.

The researchers chemically analysed ethanolic extracts of Dioscorea rotundata boiled and raw (DiosB and DiosR) respectively were chemically analysed for the presence of diosgenin using HPLC and the cytotoxic activity of the extracts were tested on MCF-7, MDA-MB-231 and MCF-10A cells In vitro by MTT assay.

According to the results, DiosB and DiosR extracts showed a higher maximal effect on MCF-7 cells than on MDA-MB231 after 24 hour and 48 hour treatments. The researchers demonstrated that DiosR, if applied at a range between 50-70 g/ml, can be effective to reduce breast tumour cell viability without affecting non tumorigenic MCF-10A cells either at 24 hour or at 48 hour. DiosB showed an IC50 of 38.83μg/ml while DiosR showed an IC50 of 41.80μg/ml.

The study was funded by University of Lagos; Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND 2015); Third World Academy of Sience-United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (TWAS-UNESCO) Fellowship; and Centro de Estudios Farmacologico y Botanicos-Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (CEFYBO-CONICET), Buenos Aires, Argentina. The researchers, however, said the funding organisations noted here played no roles in the design of the study and collection, analysis and interpretation of data and in writing the manuscript.

Meanwhile, researchers have discovered that a fasting-mimicking diet could be more effective at treating some types of cancer when combined with vitamin C. In studies on mice, researchers found that the combination delayed tumor progression in multiple mouse models of colorectal cancer; in some mice, it caused disease regression.

Scientists from University of Southern California (USC), United States, and the Istituto FIRC di Oncologia Molecolare (IFOM) Cancer Institute in Milan, Italy have found that a fasting-mimicking diet could be more effective at treating some types of cancer when combined with vitamin C.In studies on mice, researchers found that the combination delayed tumor progression in multiple mouse models of colorectal cancer; in some mice, it caused disease regression.

The results were published in the journal Nature Communications.
“For the first time, we have demonstrated how a completely non-toxic intervention can effectively treat an aggressive cancer,” said Valter Longo, the study senior author and the director of the USC Longevity Institute at the USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology and professor of biological sciences at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences. “We have taken two treatments that are studied extensively as interventions to delay aging — a fasting-mimicking diet and vitamin C — and combined them as a powerful treatment for cancer.”

The researchers said that while fasting remains a challenging option for cancer patients, a safer, more feasible option is a low-calorie, plant-based diet that causes cells to respond as if the body were fasting. Their findings suggest that a low-toxicity treatment of fasting-mimicking diet plus vitamin C has the potential to replace more toxic treatments.

Results of prior research on the cancer-fighting potential of vitamin C have been mixed. Recent studies, though, are beginning to show some efficacy, especially in combination with chemotherapy. In this new study, the research team wanted to find out whether a fasting-mimicking diet could enhance the high-dose vitamin C tumor-fighting action by creating an environment that would be unsustainable for cancer cells but still safe for normal cells.

“Our first in vitro experiment showed remarkable effects,” said Longo. “When used alone, fasting-mimicking diet or vitamin C alone reduced cancer cell growth and caused a minor increase in cancer cell death. But when used together, they had a dramatic effect, killing almost all cancerous cells.”

Longo and his colleagues detected this strong effect only in cancer cells that had a mutation that is regarded as one of the most challenging targets in cancer research. These mutations in the KRAS gene signal the body is resisting most cancer-fighting treatments, and they reduce a patient’s survival rate. KRAS mutations occur in approximately a quarter of all human cancers and are estimated to occur in up to half of all colorectal cancers.

The study also provided clues about why previous studies of vitamin C as a potential anticancer therapy showed limited efficacy. By itself, a vitamin C treatment appears to trigger the KRAS-mutated cells to protect cancer cells by increasing levels of ferritin, a protein that binds iron. But by reducing levels of ferritin, the scientists managed to increase vitamin C’s toxicity for the cancer cells. Amid this finding, the scientists also discovered that colorectal cancer patients with high levels of the iron-binding protein have a lower chance of survival.

Meanwhile, a new study suggests that protein derived from potatoes can be of high quality and help a person develop and maintain muscle mass.The research, which appears in the journal Nutrients, could be important now that an increasing number of people are transitioning toward plant-based diets. These diets have an impact on a range of factors, including physical health, environmental sustainability, and exercise performance capacity.

According to a 2019 review in the journal Nutrients, while plant-based diets offer health and environmental benefits, few single sources of plant protein provide all the beneficial amino acids associated with a protein source.

The authors of the present study wanted to explore the effects of protein derived from potatoes. While potatoes are predominantly a starchy food, they also contain protein, and extracting this can generate enough protein to be significant in human consumption.

As lead author Sara Oikawa, a former graduate student in the department of kinesiology at McMaster University, Hamilton, Canada, notes, “while the amount of protein found in a potato is small, we grow lots of potatoes and the protein, when isolated, it can provide some measurable benefits.”

In general, animal-based protein requires far more land and other resources than plant-based proteins. According to a 2018 study, “plant-based replacement diets can produce 20-fold and twofold more nutritionally similar food per cropland than beef and eggs, the most and least resource-intensive animal categories, respectively.”

As a consequence, understanding the role of plant protein, such as that derived from potatoes, in human health is important.To identify the quality of potato protein, the researchers recruited women in their early twenties who generally consumed the recommended daily amount of protein.

The researchers then split the group in half, giving one group protein derived from potatoes to double the amount of protein they were consuming, while the other half stayed on the recommended daily amount of protein. The researchers found that the women who had been consuming the potato protein supplement had increased muscle protein synthesis, while the control group did not.

Oikawa says: “This was an interesting finding that we did not expect. But it is one that shows the recommended daily allowance is inadequate to support maintenance of muscle in these young women.”

For the authors of the study, this finding also suggests that plant-based proteins can still be valuable in helping maintain and develop muscle. The researchers also looked to see whether plant-based protein had any effect on developing muscle when the women were actively weight training. To do so, they asked the participants in both groups to perform exercises on only one of their legs, using leg press and leg extension machines.

The researchers found that consuming the potato protein supplement did not make any difference to muscle gain during weightlifting. However, this is unlikely to be due to the fact that the protein came from potatoes. For Oikawa, the importance of the findings is that plant-based protein can be of high quality and contribute to human health.

“This study provides evidence that the quality of proteins from plants can support muscle,” Oikawa concludes. “I think you’ll see more work on plant-based protein sources being done.”

Also, a study has found, plant extracts could hold the key to curing the headaches and nausea that are associated with drinking too much alcohol. The findings contradict the popular concept that hangovers are caused by a lack of electrolytes in the body — a combination of minerals that help balance acid levels.

Researchers found that people who drank certain soluble plant extracts and minerals after alcohol had fewer symptoms than those who just consumed the minerals.
The natural pick-me-up — which reduced head pain and sickness — included a combination of fruits, leaves, and roots reduced head pain and sickness.
The study was undertaken by molecular physiologists Bernhard Lieb and Patrick Schmitt of the Johannes Guttenberg University in Germany.
The full findings of the study were published in British Medical Journal Nutrition Prevention and Health.
The duo gave 69 healthy 18–65-year-olds water with a dissolved supplement of ginger root, Barbados cherry, prickly pear, ginkgo biloba, willow, magnesium, potassium, sodium bicarbonate, zinc, riboflavin, thiamin and folic acid.

Each of the volunteers were given the drink both 45 minutes before and immediately after they stopped drinking beer, white wine, or white wine spritzer. A second group of 76 people were given a version of the supplement without the plant extracts, while a third group of 69 participants received a placebo.

The team found that the intensity of hangover symptoms varied wildly among all the participants. However, those who had taken the plant and mineral mix reported that headache intensity was around 34 per cent less on average than those who took the placebo, while their nausea was 42 per cent less severe.

At the same time, the full supplement-takers reported that their feelings of indifference fell by an average of 27 per cent and restlessness by 41 per cent. No significant difference in any symptom was reported by those taking the supplement minus the plant extracts, suggesting that plant extracts were largely responsible for the observed changes, the researchers said.

Each of the five plant extracts contained polyphenol and flavonoid compounds that previous studies have associated with a reduction in the impacts of alcohol, the researchers noted — although it remains unclear how they work.


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