Don't be ginger with the ginger

Related tags Cancer Ginger

Ginger, the key ingredient in Asia's culinary triangle, could
contain a powerful component to combat the growth of human
colorectal cancer cells.

Ginger, the key ingredient in Asia's culinary triangle could contain a powerful component to combat the growth of human colorectal cancer cells.

Presenting their findings at the American Association for Cancer Research yesterday researchers in the US from the university of Minnesota report how they found slower rates of cancer growth in mice given thrice-weekly feedings of [6]-gingerol - the main active component of ginger.

"Plants of the ginger family have been credited with therapeutic and preventive powers and have been reported to have anti-cancer activity,"​ said research associate professor Ann Bode​. "The substance called [6]-gingerol is the main active compound in ginger root and the one that gives ginger its distinctive flavour,"​ she added.

The researchers tested [6]-gingerol's powers by feeding a half milligram to 20 mice three times a week before and after injecting human colorectal tumour cells into their flanks. Control mice were treated the same, except their food contained no [6]-gingerol. Tumours were allowed to grow until they reached a size of one cubic centimeter (0.06 cubic inch), after which the mice were euthanised.

The researchers report that the first tumours appeared 15 days after the cells were injected. At that time, 13 tumours of measurable size had appeared among the control mice, four among the [6]-gingerol-treated mice. Mice consuming [6]-gingerol lagged in both the number of animals with measurable tumours and the average size of tumours within the group.

"These results strongly suggest that ginger compounds may be effective chemopreventive and/or chemotherapeutic agents for colorectal carcinomas,"​ said Bode.

Because mice were not allowed to live with tumours bigger than one cubic centimetre, "it's difficult to know if the ginger-treated mice would have lived longer if left to die of their tumours, but it looks that way,"​ she added.

The researchers reported that Minnesota university has applied for a patent on the use of [6]-gingerol as an anti-cancer agent, and the technology has been licensed to Pediatric Pharmaceuticals.

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