From: Allison Winter, ENN
Published May 31, 2013 12:08 PM

Apigenin-rich foods may help defeat cancer cells

We are constantly being told what to eat, what not to eat, what is good for our eyesight and what helps us loose weight. Well here's another suggestion: eat parsley, celery, and chamomile tea in order to help kill cancer cells.

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Researchers at The Ohio State University's Comprehensive Cancer Center found that the compound identified as apigenin, which is found in many fruits and vegetables specifically in the Mediterranean diet, could stop breast cancer cells from inhibiting their own death.

So what does this mean? Well, the compound essentially re-educates cancer cells into normal cells, causing them to die on a regular cycle.

What happens when we ingest this compound is that the apigenin binds with an estimated 160 proteins in the human body. Among the most important is a protein called hnRNPA2.

This protein influences the activity of messenger RNA, or mRNA, which contains the instructions needed to produce a specific protein. The production of mRNA results from the modification of RNA that occurs as part of gene activation.

Doseff noted that abnormal splicing is the culprit in an estimated 80 percent of all cancers. In cancer cells, two types of splicing occur when only one would take place in a normal cell — a trick on the cancer cells' part to keep them alive and reproducing.

In this study, the researchers observed that apigenin's connection to the hnRNPA2 protein restored this single-splice characteristic to breast cancer cells, suggesting that when splicing is normal, cells die in a programmed way, or become more sensitive to chemotherapeutic drugs.

"We know we need to eat healthfully, but in most cases we don’t know the actual mechanistic reasons for why we need to do that," said Andrea Doseff, associate professor of internal medicine and molecular genetics at Ohio State and a co-lead author of the study. "We see here that the beneficial effect on health is attributed to this dietary nutrient affecting many proteins. In its relationship with a set of specific proteins, apigenin re-establishes the normal profile in cancer cells. We think this can have great value clinically as a potential cancer-prevention strategy."

The research appeared this week in the online early edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Read more at The Ohio State University.

Celery image via Shutterstock.

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