Lutein, the anti-cancer compound from kale and spinach
What exactly is that with the cancer-inhibiting effect of carotenoids, a group of compounds in fruit and vegetables? How do they work exactly? Can you strengthen their protective effect with other nutrients - such as omega-3 fatty acids? We have been asking ourselves this question for quite some time. So far we have mainly looked at beta-carotene, a carotenoid in carrots. Today we are looking at lutein, a carotenoid in green vegetables.
In 2018, researchers from Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center published an in vitro study in Molecules in which they initially exposed 5 types of breast cancer cells and healthy primary mammary epithelial cells [PmEC] to lutein. The figure below shows that the healthy cells did not suffer from this, but the cancer cells did.
The researchers discovered that lutein increased the free radical concentration in the hormone-sensitive MCF-7 cells and especially in the hormone-insensitive MDA-MB-486 cells.
When the researchers repeated the tests, but exposed their MDA-MB-486 cells not only to lutein but also to the antioxidant N-acetyl-cysteine, the cancer-inhibiting effect of lutein disappeared.
Oncologists often fight breast cancer with taxanes such as docetaxel and paclitaxel. The researchers discovered that lutein enhanced the cancer-inhibiting effect of those drugs in both MCF-7 cells and MDA-MB-486 cells.
"We speculate that the toxicity of taxane chemotherapy might be lessened by enabling lower effective doses in combination with lutein", write the researchers. "Further investigations in preclinical and clinical settings should establish lutein as a potential anti-cancer agent in breast cancer."
Omega-3 fatty acids also increase the concentration of free radicals in breast cancer cells, just like beta-carotene. Omega-3 fatty acids and carotenoids may enhance each other's cancer-inhibiting effect.
Lutein in food
The best sources of lutein in our diet are cooked spinach and kale. [Nutrients. 2017 Feb 9;9(2).]
More coming soon.
Molecules. 2018 Apr 14;23(4).
Does lutein speed up fat loss? 13.01.2016
Lutein is a medicine against a sedentary lifestyle 12.01.2016
Lutein speeds up transformation from lazybones into athlete 27.06.2014
Cancer Prevention & Survival
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In 2007, researchers at Zhengzhou University in China published an in vitro study that shows how carotenoids control breast cancer cells. And how you can perhaps strengthen this anti-carcinogenic effect...
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