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Celery and Parsley Help Fight Breast Cancer

By May 22, 2012

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Celery and Parsley
Celery and Parsley
Photo Pam Stephan

Next time you see a garnish of parsley on your plate, don't avoid it. Those curly green leaves may look modest, but they hold a powerful substance that can slow down the growth of breast tumors. Both celery and parsley contain apigenin, a cancer-fighting bioflavonoid. Apigenin has been studied in relation to breast and ovarian cancers. This natural chemical is found in some of the leafy greens, fruits, vegetables, and herbs.

Dr. Salman Hyder and a team of researchers have been studying the effects of apigenin on breast cancer cells in lab mice. These breast cancers are fueled by progestin, a hormone often given in hormone replacement therapy (HRT) for menopausal women. When a breast tumor has a good supply of estrogen, progesterone, or progestin, it can be aggressive - making it more deadly and more difficult to treat.

"We do know that apigenin slowed the progression of human breast cancer cells in three ways: by inducing cell death, by inhibiting cell proliferation, and by reducing expression of a gene associated with cancer growth,"said Dr. Hyder. Apigenin extracted from celery was given to mice that had fast-growing, progestin-fueled breast cancer. Mice were divided into two groups: both groups were given progestin, but only one group was given the apigenin. In the mice that received the celery extract, their cancers shrank because the tumors could not get enough blood and nutrients to keep growing.

It's too early to overstock your fridge with celery, though. More study is needed to see if apigenin works on humans the same way as it did on the lab mice. But wouldn't it be nice if eating or drinking celery extracts became an alternative breast cancer treatment? There doesn't seem to be any side effects to consuming celery. "Chemotherapy drugs cause hair-loss, extreme fatigue and other side effects. Apigenin has shown no toxic side-effects even at high dosages. People have eaten it since pre-history in fruits and vegetables," Dr. Hyder remarked . Big Pharma isn't likely to fund research into cancer-fighting celery extracts - there wouldn't be much profit in developing something you could make as a smoothie with ingredients you'd find at the grocery store. But I hope Dr. Hyder will prevail, because if eating a really healthy diet will kill or prevent cancer, I think a lot of us would be willing to give it a serious commitment!

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