The Cancer Soldier Sitting in Your Refrigerator Drawer
Celery: it sits in the back of your refrigerator for weeks at a time. It’s rather bland, and unless it’s paired with peanut butter or ranch dip, it’s not likely to find its way out anytime soon. However, this less-than-appealing snack actually packs a lot of punch:
- It’s filled with Vitamin E and C, calcium, and magnesium.
- It’s rich in phalides, which help to lower your blood pressure and improve your circulation.
- It helps reduce swelling and water retention.
- Celery seeds are also used to remove uric acid, which irritates joint disorders such as arthritis.
Still not impressed? Recent studies have found that a flavonoid in celery may help reduce tumor growth, specifically in pancreatic and breast cancer.
Celery: The Cancer Soldier
Apigenin is the magic word. University of Missouri researcher Salman Hyder exposed rats, which were infected with a certain type of breast cancer, to apigenin in a 2011 study. What he found was ground breaking. The exposed rats had less tumor development, and tumor formation was significantly delayed in comparison to the rats who did not receive this treatment.
But breast cancer isn’t the only disease quivering in its boots. Researchers at the University of Illinois found that pancreatic cancer is also in apigenin’s cancer-fighting path. This study also unraveled another piece of the puzzle.
“Even though individually, apigenin and luteolin [another flavonoid found in celery] were effective in causing pancreatic cancer cells to die, researchers found that pre-treating the cancer cells with either compound, and then applying a chemotherapy drug to the cells, seemed to be the most effective,” according to the Huffington Post.
There are three main ways that researchers see apigenin being used in the fight against cancer:
- Hyder sees it being valuable to the six in 10 women in the U.S. who are treated with hormone replacement therapy (HRT). The main drug used in HRT, medroxyprogesterone acetate (MPA), encourages new blood vessels to grow within the tumor. More blood vessels mean more for nutrients for the tumor to feed on, which leads to growth and multiplication. Yet, apigenin was found to inhibit the new blood vessel formation, which ultimately delayed or halted the growth of current and new tumors in Hyder’s study.
- Apigenin also stops the enzyme glycogen synthase kinase-3β, which in turn leads to a decrease in anti-apoptotic genes, according to the Illinois research study. In apoptosis, cancer cells self-destruct because there’s been damage to the DNA, a process that works to aid recovery. The public press release for the study stated:
“In one of the cancer cell lines, the percentage of cells undergoing apoptosis went from 8.4 percent in cells that had not been treated with the flavonoid to 43.8 percent in cells that had been treated with a 50-micromolar dose. In this case, no chemotherapy drug had been added.”
- A study by the University of Ohio also found the positive cancer-killing benefits in apigenin, but in its ability to bind with over 160 proteins, more than pharmaceutical drugs which target one molecule. Medical Daily reported, “One major protein it attaches to, called hnRNPA2, is responsible for the functions of mRNA, the genetic instructions that are needed to produce other proteins.”
They continue to explain that 80% of all cancers are due to the abnormal production of mRNA and, “Apigenin, therefore, works by correcting hnRNPA2 to restore mRNA functions, meaning that apigenin can halt breast cancer cells from preventing their own death.”
Apigenin’s Many Homes
If you don’t like celery, you’re in luck. This flavonoid is found in a number of foods and herbs that may better suit your palate. These include:
Still, studies have found this flavonoid to be most effective in celery, parsley and chamomile.
Though most studies cite that eating celery, and the other apigenin rich foods, doesn’t prevent the on-set of cancer, adding a few more whole foods to your diet, not to mention flavorful herbs, can’t hurt. So, pull that celery out of the drawer and start munching. Its powerful benefits may someday be linked to your long cancer-free life.