Two to three peaches per day may keep the cancer at bay, according to a study published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry by Dr. Luis Cisneros-Zevallos at Texas A&M AgriLife Research in College Station. The finding came from tests that injected aggressive breast cancer cells under the skin of mice that were consuming peach extract, which contains a mixture of phenolic compounds. The dose of phenolic compounds administered to mice (equivalent to the quantity received by humans consuming two or three peaches) was potent enough to inhibit metastasis, as evidenced by the inhibition of a cancerous gene marker in the lungs of mice as compared to mice not receiving peach extract.
“The importance of our findings are very relevant, because it shows the in vivo effect that natural compounds, in this case the phenolic compounds in peach, have against breast cancer and metastasis. It gives opportunity to include in the diet an additional tool to prevent and fight this terrible disease that affects so many people,” said Cisneros-Zevallos. An estimated 232,340 new cases of invasive breast cancer appeared in American women in 2013, according to the American Cancer Society, and most of the complications and high mortality resulted from metastasis. These newly diagnosed women may benefit from the results of the present study, as well as a previous study from Cisneros-Zavallos at AgriLife Research that showed peach and plum polyphenols selectively kill aggressive breast cancer cells. Both studies were in collaboration with Dr. David Bryne from AgriLife Research, Dr. Weston Porter from Texas A&M University, and Giuliana Noratto, who was a graduate student at the time but who is now a faculty member at Washington State University.
Although most peach varieties share similar polyphenolic compounds, the content may vary. The peach fruit used in this study was Rich Lady. “In general, peach fruit has chemical compounds that are responsible for killing cancer cells while not affecting normal cells as we reported previously, and now we are seeing that this mixture of compounds can inhibit metastasis,” said Cisneros-Zevallos. The mechanism by which peach extract inhibits metastasis involves targeting and modulating gene expression of metalloproteinases, which are enzymes cancer cells use to migrate.
Cisneros-Zevallos added, “We are enthusiastic about the idea that perhaps by consuming only two to three peaches a day we can obtain similar effects in humans. However, this will have to be the next step in the study for its confirmation.” Future steps include testing polyphenolic compounds in different types of cancer both in vitro and in vivo.