A tropical fruit native to Southeast Asia has been shown in a new study to protect against breast cancer. Researchers from the University of Chinese Academy of Sciences' (UCAS) College of Life Sciences found that the pericarp of the mangosteen fruit, which is commonly grown in Thailand and Malaysia, contains a unique compound that triggers apoptosis, or cell death, in breast cancer cells.
A followup to a previous study on mangosteen's effects in vitro, this latest research looked at the effects of a unique mangosteen xanthone on actual human breast cancer cells. The team from UCAS studied how alpha-mangostin affects fatty acid synthase, or FAS, a multi-enzyme protein that catalyzes the formation of long-chain fatty acids from various compounds. Over-expression of FAS is also commonly observed in conjunction with breast cancer occurrence.
Using a battery of tests, the researchers found that alpha-mangostin exhibits an inhibitory effect on the expression of FAS, in turn resulting in a decrease of intracellular fatty acid accumulation. Additionally, alpha-mangostin noticeably triggers apoptosis in human breast cancer cells, regulating the expression of other key proteins involved in apoptosis.
"Alpha-mangostin could effectively suppress FAS expression and inhibit intracellular FAS activity, and result in decrease of intracellular fatty acid accumulation," wrote the authors, as published in the journal Molecular Cancer. "[Alpha-mangostin] could also reduce cell viability, induce apoptosis in human breast cancer cells, increase in the levels of the PARP cleavage product, and attenuate the balance between anti-apoptotic and pro-apoptotic proteins of the Bcl-2 family."
Be careful to choose mangosteen products that are free of toxic heavy metals
Based on these successful findings, UCAS scientists say mangosteen xanthones could eventually become a viable treatment agent in breast cancer therapy. And since it is relatively easy to source, mangosteen extract could also be used as a preventive food for avoiding breast cancer development.
Our readers need to be aware, however, that not all mangosteen products are equal. As we reported back in April, at least one major supplier of dried mangosteen powder to the U.S. is delivering a product that is exceptionally high in the brain-damaging metal lead. This same powder, which is commonly repackaged for various retail supply chains, was also found to contain aluminum, arsenic, cadmium and some mercury.
Fresh mangosteen or verified powders are an excellent 'superfood'
However, awareness about the presence of heavy metals in food is growing, which means the availability of safer alternatives will only increase. All in all, sourcing fresh mangosteen or verified mangosteen powder is still a great way to take advantage of this powerful anticancer superfood.
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