Cancer Cure from Avocados?
Intriguing new research suggests that a type of fat found in avocados may offer a cure for a deadly form of cancer. A lipid (a type of fat) found in avocados targets the root of acute myeloid leukemia by destroying leukemia stem cells. Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is an especially deadly form of cancer, which kills 90% of patients 65 or older, within five years of diagnosis.
“The stem cell is really the cell that drives the disease,” said Professor Paul Spagnuolo, of the University of Waterloo's School of Pharmacy. "The stem cell is largely responsible for the disease developing and it's the reason why so many patients with leukemia relapse. We've performed many rounds of testing to determine how this new drug works at a molecular level and confirmed that it targets stem cells selectively, leaving healthy cells unharmed.”
How remarkable that, once again, science has discovered further proof that the father of modern medicine, Hippocrates, was right, more than two millennia ago, when he advised: “Let food be thy medicine; let medicine be thy food.”
Dr. Spagnuolo is among an elite group of leading scientists around the world who are searching for substances in food—nutraceuticals, if you will—that may be harnessed as medicines. The avocado compound, dubbed “avocatin B,” is an excellent example of the potent cures lurking in whole foods, waiting to be discovered. While the substance probably won’t reach the point of human clinical trials for several years yet, it’s an exciting example of what’s possible when we turn back to nature for wisdom and wellness.
Meanwhile, although patients with AML can’t expect to be cured with injections of avocatin B anytime soon, people are free to eat all the avocados they want. Given this new research, it seems plausible that simply eating fresh avocados could have cancer-preventing benefits. At the very least, avocados are a healthful, delicious food that can be incorporated into your diet with ease. Try tossing slices in fresh lemon or lime juice, to prevent browning, and use thin slices on sandwiches, in place of mayonnaise. Not only does it add creamy deliciousness to sandwiches—it also won’t make your bread soggy when you carry a bag lunch, and you won’t have to worry as much about refrigeration.
E. A. Lee, L. Angka, S.-G. Rota, T. Hanlon, A. Mitchell, R. Hurren, X. M. Wang, M. Gronda, E. Boyaci, B. Bojko, M. Minden, S. Sriskanthadevan, A. Datti, J. L. Wrana, A. Edginton, J. Pawliszyn, J. W. Joseph, J. Quadrilatero, A. D. Schimmer, P. A. Spagnuolo. Targeting Mitochondria with Avocatin B Induces Selective Leukemia Cell Death. Cancer Research, 2015; 75 (12): 2478 DOI: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-14-2676