|Peaches and Plums
Photo © Hellen Stevens, Flickr
Next time you reach for a ripe peach or a juicy plum, consider how powerfully healthy these fruits are. Not just pretty and low in calories, peaches and plums are loaded with antioxidants, dietary fiber, and vitamins. But it was their phenolic compounds that caught the attention of scientists at Texas AgriLife Research. In their lab studies, when the phenols from peaches and plums got together with breast cancer cells, the malignant cells were killed. Researchers were happy with those results, but even more pleased about the response from healthy cells. "These extracts killed the cancer cells but not the normal cells," said Dr. Luis Cisneros-Zevallos, who worked on the study.
Extracts were taken from the "Rich Lady" peach and the "Black Splendor" plum, chosen because of their particularly high phenolic content. Chlorogenic and neochlorogenic phenols from these peaches and plums were found to kill breast cancer cells, without harming healthy cells nearby. Even when scientists tested these fruit phenols on the most aggressive types of breast cancer cells, the cancer died and the healthy cells were unaffected. That's a dream come true for breast cancer patients that may require chemotherapy - a systemic treatment that affects every cell in the body.
More research is needed before cancer patients will be treated with phenols from these super fruits. But the plant breeders and researchers at Texas AgriLife are very interested in continuing this line of exploration. They hope that someday, they can grow peaches and plums that have very high content of cancer-killing compounds. Those mighty fruit phenols don't like cancer cells, and neither do I! Meanwhile, have another peach - after all, to the ancient Chinese, they are the symbol of a long, happy life.