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07.08.2014


Pau d'arco speeds up oestrogen breakdown

Supplements manufacturers sell Pau d'arco - an extract made from the bark of the South American tree Tabebuia avellandae - as an immune booster, but according to researchers at the Strang Cancer Prevention Center in New York, Pau d'arco also has an antioestrogenic effect. And this anti-oestrogenic effect could enhance that of blueberries we talked about yesterday...


Pau d'arco speeds up oestrogen breakdown


Pau d'arco

Lapachol
South American Indians have been using Pau d'arco, often as a tea, for hundreds of years against infectious diseases. The extract contains naphthaquinones such as lapachol [structural formula to the right] and anthroquinones, which can have a toxic effect. If you give heavy doses of lapachol to pregnant lab animals, their embryos die. [Braz J Biol. 2001 Feb;61(1):171-4.]

Molecular oncologists have been examining Pau d'arco's potential as a medicine against cancer. The researchers at the Strang Cancer Prevention Center exposed MCF-7 breast cancer cells, which grow faster the more estradiol they get, to a water-based extract of Pau d'arco. The stronger the extract, the more deadly it was for the cancer cells.


Pau d'arco speeds up oestrogen breakdown


Mechanism
When the researchers examined the activity of important genes in the cells, they saw how Pau d'arco inhibited the cancer cells: it boosted the activity of the gene for the enzyme CYP1A1 by a factor of 19.8 [the figure below is logarithmic, not linear]. The activity of the gene for CYP1B1 increased by a factor of 7.9.


Pau d'arco speeds up oestrogen breakdown


CYP1A1 is, as far as estradiol is concerned, a 'good' enzyme. It converts estradiol into the harmless 2-hydroxy-estradiol. CYP1B1 is a 'less good' enzyme, and converts estradiol into 4-hydroxy-estradiol. 4-hydroxy-estradiol is also less active than estradiol, but it is an oncological worry, as it can attach itself to the DNA, causing damage and turning a healthy cell into a cancer cell.

If you still smoke, you're better off not using Pau d'arco: smokers with extra active CYP1A1 genes develop cancer more frequently than other smokers.

Speculation
Yesterday we wrote about the anti-oestrogenic effect of blueberries. Phenols in blueberries inhibit the production of estradiol receptors in cells. By the way, the fatty acid GLA does this too.

Blueberry phenols downregulate the gene for CYP1A1. If you are looking for a natural anti-estrogenic strategy, this is less favorable. But what if you'd combine Pau d'arco and blueberries (and perhaps GLA)? Then you might have an effective anti-oestrogenic powerhouse...

Source:
Int J Mol Med. 2009 Aug;24(2):253-60.

More:
The antioestrogenic effect of pomegranate 01.08.2014
Curcumin is a mild anti-oestrogen 02.04.2014
How propolis kills breast cancer cells 23.02.2014

Archives:
Antioestrogens


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Test-tube study: quercetin undermines functioning of estradiol
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More testosterone and less estradiol in coffee drinkers
People who drink a few cups of coffee a day have more testosterone and less estradiol in their blood than coffee abstainers.