Several studies have shown that more Nigerian men are dying due to complications of prostate cancer and prostate enlargement. But researchers have scientifically validated more natural products including the seeds of pawpaw and watermelon that could be successfully used to prevent and treat prostate problems without unpleasant side effects. CHUKWUMA MUANYA (Assistant Editor) writes.
The prostate cancer is the malignant tumour of the prostate gland of male reproductive organ, which may be life threatening, when spread to other body parts, predominantly towards lymph nodes, and bones.
Prostate enlargement, also called Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH) is a noncancerous increase in size of the prostate. Symptoms may include frequent urination, trouble starting to urinate, weak stream, inability to urinate, or loss of bladder control. Complications can include urinary tract infections, bladder stones, and chronic kidney problems.
According to a report published by Cancer Research, UK, an estimated 14 million cases of cancer reported worldwide and nearly half-8.2 million people (about 13 per cent of the total worldwide deaths) died from cancer. The cases of cancer is expected to increase to 24 million by 2035, therefore, the death toll from cancer is expected to increase in the future.
Many studies have shown that the major factor contributing in prostate cancer is the age, because men who have the prostate cancer are between 65 and 80 years, and it is rare in men who are under than 40 years.
The other contributing factor is genetics. For example, men of African-American descent are at a significantly higher risk of developing prostate cancer than white men. In fact, according to researches, prostate cancer is the fourth most common reason overall for death in African-American men. About 19 per cent of black men, (one in five) will be diagnosed with prostate cancer, and five per cent of those will die from this disease. Also, a man who has a member of his family with prostate cancer is more likely to get the prostate cancer compared to another man. In addition, a man who inherited the faulty BRCA2 gene is more likely to get the more severe type of prostate cancer.
Scientists have also demonstrated that obesity also contributes to prostate cancer. Sex hormones are also involved in prostate cancer development. Reduced testosterone levels have been related to obesity, metabolic syndrome (MS), benign prostatic hypertrophy and even prostate cancer.
Diet rich in high-fat milk and red meat, saturated fats and omega-6 fatty acids was found to increase the risk of prostate cancer whereas diet rich in fruits and vegetable decreases the risk of prostate cancer.
An inverse association between high intake of vegetables and/or fruits and incidences of cancer was reported by a number of epidemiological studies.
Further, the preventive effect on prostate cancer risk was found for a diet, which was rich in tomato products and lycopene. Unfortunately, there are conflicting findings on the lycopene-prostate cancer risk relationship and the preventive role of tomato products.
Pawpaw black seeds
United State (U.S.) researchers have demonstrated that pawpaw (Papaya) black seeds have beneficial anticancer effects on PC-3 prostate cancer cells
The study was published in Journal of Cancer Metastasis and Treatment.
The researchers from Virginia State University, Petersburg, investigated the effect of papaya seeds on prostate cancer (PC) using PC-3 cell line because papaya seeds have effects on the male reproductive system notably decreasing sperm concentration, motility, and viability, leading to azoospermia (complete lack of sperm in the ejaculate) after short-to-long-term treatment.
The black seeds from yellow (ripe) papaya and white seeds from green (unripe) papaya were harvested and then extracted in water, 80 per cent methanol, and hexane. The cytotoxic effects of seeds extracts were determined using a WST-1 proliferation assay. The amount of total polyphenols was determined using Folin Ciocalteu reagent.
The results indicate that the methanol extracts from black seeds significantly decreased cell proliferation of PC-3 cells whereas hexane- and water-extracts have no effect.
The researcher noted: “However, the water-extract from white seeds stimulated PC cell proliferation. The black seeds contained significantly more polyphenols than that of white seeds. The data suggest that black seeds from papaya have anticancer effects on PCs whereas white seeds stimulated prostate cancer proliferation. The anticancer effect of black seeds may be because of their high concentration of polyphenols.”
They concluded: “The black seeds from papaya may have a potential to reduce growth of prostate cells; however, consumption of white seeds should be avoided as they may stimulate pre-existing prostate cancer.”
Papaya fruits also contained a significant amount of lycopene and anticancer activities of papaya have been demonstrated in a number of in vitro studies. Papaya juice and pure lycopene caused cell death in the liver cancer cell line, Hep G2. Papaya seed extract exhibited anticancer activity in acute promyelotic leukemia HL-60 cells whereas papaya pulp extract did not have any effect.
Until now, Papaya has also been used as a traditional medicine in some cultures for male fertility, suggesting its direct role in male reproductive system. Papaya seeds are natural contraceptive for both man and women. It is traditionally used to affect the fertility in men in a reversible manner.
Interestingly papaya seeds have not known for side effects, as these are common with pharmaceutical contraceptive. It appears that Papaya seeds have activity for male reproductive system; it is, therefore, possible that papaya seeds may have anticancer effect against cancer of prostate gland, a vital organ of male reproductive system.
They US researchers hypothesised that papaya seeds can be effective in inhibiting prostate cancer cells proliferation and, therefore, may be a good nutraceutical for preventing and/or treating prostate cancer in men.
Also, researchers have found that papaya leaf extract and its tea have dramatic cancer-fighting properties against a broad range of tumors, backing a belief held in a number of folk traditions.
University of Florida, United States researcher Nam Dang and colleagues in Japan, in a report published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, documented papaya ’s anticancer effect against tumors of the cervix, breast, liver, lung and pancreas.
The researchers used an extract made from dried papaya leaves, and the effects were stronger when cells received larger doses of papaya leaf tea.
Dang and the other scientists showed that papaya leaf extract boosts the production of key signaling molecules called Th1-type cytokines, which help regulate the immune system. This could lead to therapeutic treatments that use the immune system to fight cancers, they said in the recent issue of the journal and released by the University.
Papaya has been used as a folk remedy for a variety of ailments in many parts of the world, especially Asia. Deng said the results are consistent with reports from indigenous populations in Australia and his native Vietnam. The researchers said papaya extract did not have any toxic effects on normal cells, avoiding a common side effect of many cancer treatments. Researchers exposed 10 different types of cancer cell cultures to four strengths of papaya leaf extract and measured the effect after 24 hours. Papaya slowed the growth of tumors in all the cultures. Dang and a colleague have applied to patent the process to distill the papaya extract through the University of Tokyo.
Numerous studies have documented the antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and immune-modulatory effects of spices, which might be related to prevention and treatment of several cancers, including lung, liver, breast, stomach, colo-rectum, cervix, and prostate cancers.
According to a study published in the journal Nutrients, several spices are potential sources for prevention and treatment of cancers, such as Curcuma longa (tumeric), Nigella sativa (black cumin), Zingiber officinale (ginger), Allium sativum (garlic), Crocus sativus (saffron), Piper nigrum (black pepper) and Capsicum annum (chili pepper), which contained several important bioactive compounds, such as curcumin, thymoquinone, piperine and capsaicin.
The main mechanisms of action include inducing apoptosis, inhibiting proliferation, migration and invasion of tumors, and sensitizing tumors to radiotherapy and chemotherapy.
A recent study published in the journal Molecules, September 2017, validated the therapeutic mechanisms of bitter leaf (Vernonia amygdalina) in the treatment of prostate cancer.
The researchers assessed the anticancer activities of Vernonia amygdalina Delile (VAD) methanolic extracts in the prevention and treatment of prostate cancer using human androgen-independent prostate cancer (PC-3) cells as a test model. To achieve our objective, PC-3 cells were treated with various doses of VAD for 48 hours.
The researchers noted: “Data generated from the trypan blue test and MTT assay demonstrated that VAD extracts exhibited significant growth-inhibitory effects on PC-3 cells. Collectively, we established for the first time the antiproliferative effects of VAD on PC-3 cells, with an IC50 value of about 196.6 µg/mL.
“Further experiments, including cell morphology, lipid peroxidation and comet assays, and apoptosis analysis showed that VAD caused growth-inhibitory effects on PC-3 cells through the induction of cell growth arrest, Deoxy ribonucleic Acid (DNA) damage, apoptosis, and necrosis in vitro and may provide protection from oxidative stress diseases as a result of its high antioxidant content.”
“These results provide useful data on the anticancer activities of VAD for prostate cancer and demonstrate the novel possibilities of this medicinal plant for developing prostate cancer therapies.”
Also, a Nigerian born Professor of Biology, Ernest Izevbigie has patented a formula made from bitter leaf (Vernonia amygdalina). This bitter leaf-based formula is a proven anti-diabetic and anti-cancer formula in laboratory and clinical trials. This formula product can also benefit Human Immuno-deficiency Virus (HIV)/Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) patients. It has been patented: U.S. Patent 6,713,098 in 2004 and the second 6,848,604 in 2005.
Izevbigie said: “We found that in using the plant material (from Vernonia amygdalina), some compounds from the extracts were able to inhibit the growth of breast cancer cells. Later through collaborative research, we found they were also effective in other tumor cells.”
The professor further explained that available data shows that bitter leaf extracts might be effective against herpes virus, and against Kaposi sarcomas (KS), a tumour caused by Human herpes virus 8 (HHV8).
Some of the principal chemical compounds found in the bitter leaf herb are known as steroid glycosides – type vernonioside B1. These compounds possess potent anti- parasitic, anti-tumor, anti-inflammatory, and anti-bacterial effects.
Researchers from Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ogun State, have investigated the effects of methanolic extract of watermelon (Citrullus lanatus) seed (MECLS) on experimentally induced benign prostate hyperplasia.
The study was published in the European Journal of Medicinal Plants.
They found: “Administration of MECLS for one month reduced the prostate size significantly, both at high and low dose, but could not restore the initial size of shrunken testes and severe oligospermia (deficiency of sperm cells in the semen) caused by the hormones. The histological studies clearly establish MECLS as a potential candidate in management of androgen dependent conditions like benign prostate hyperplasia.”
A local spice could be used to stop the spread and development of prostate and breast cancers.
Researchers have confirmed the anti-proliferative effects of ethanol extract of African pepper (Myopia aethiopica) fruits on breast and prostate cancer cells. This can be seen from the inhibition of cell growth by this extract thus highlighting its potential as a therapy against breast and prostate cancer.
The study published in July 15, 2016 edition of the journal Experimental and Molecular Therapeutics and Cancer Research is titled “Preliminary anti-proliferative effect of ethanolic extracts of Xylopia aethiopica on prostate and breast cancer cell lines.”
The researchers, Emeka E.J Iweala and Eunice W. Bankole, also published the abstract of the study in Proceedings of American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) 107th Annual Meeting 2016; April 16 to 20, 2016; New Orleans, Los Angeles, United States.
Commonly called African pepper or Guinea pepper, Xylopia aethiopica, belongs to the family Annonaceae. In Nigerian Arabic, it is called kyimba in, kumba in Arabic-Shuwa, kenya in Bokyi, akada in Degema, unie in Edo, ata in Efik, kimbaahre in Fula-Fulfulde, kimbaa in Hausa, ata in Ibibio, uda in Ibo, tsunfyanya in Nupe, kimbill in Tera, eeru in Yoruba.
The researchers noted: “The aim of the research was to study the preliminary anti-proliferative effects of ethanolic extracts of Xylopia aethiopica on prostate and breast cancer cell lines. Dried X. aethiopica fruits were extracted with 70 per cent ethanol and tested against prostate (LNCaP) and breast cancer (MCF7 and MDA-MB231) cells’ viability in vitro using the MTT ((3-(4,5-Dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5- diphenyl tetrazolium bromide) assay.
“…The data generated from this research indicates the anti-proliferative effects of ethanolic extract of X. aethiopica fruits on breast and prostate cancer cells. This can be seen from the inhibition of cell growth by this extract thus highlighting its potential as a therapy against breast and prostate cancer.”
Earlier studies had suggested that eating food prepared with African pepper and other spices and goat weed could prevent cancer.
German and Camerounian researchers following laboratory experiments conducted at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU), Germany had concluded that African medicinal plants contain chemicals that may be able to stop the spread of cancer cells.
The study was published in the journal Phytomedicine. The researchers said the plant materials would now undergo further analysis in order to evaluate their therapeutic potential.
Prof. Thomas Efferth of the Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Biochemistry – Therapeutic Life Sciences at Mainz University said: “The active substances present in African medicinal plants may be capable of killing off tumor cells that are resistant to more than one drug. They thus represent an excellent starting point for the development of new therapeutic treatments for cancers that do not respond to conventional chemotherapy regimens.”
Researchers from the University of Ghana, Accra, Ghana; Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, Ghana; West Africa Postgraduate College of Pharmacists, Lagos, Nigeria; and Bangladesh Agricultural University, Mymesingh, Bangladesh has confirmed that sour sop (Annona muricata) has antiproliferative effects on BPH-1 cells and reduces prostate size, possibly through apoptosis.
The study was published in the journal Integrative Cancer Therapies.
Some studies on human breast carcinoma cells (MDA-MB-435S) and human immortalized keratinocyte cells (HaCaT) have confirmed the presence of therapeutically active antineoplastic compounds in the n-butanolic leaf extract of
A. muricata. The antitumor effects of A. muricata leaves may be due to the presence of acetogenins.
According to an article posted on Web MD, men who exercise for at least two hours a week reduced their risk of death from prostate cancer. The findings come from a joint study conducted by researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health and the University of California-San Francisco, United States. The researchers studied the records of nearly 3,000 men who had been diagnosed with non-metastatic prostate cancer for a period of over 18 years.
As part of the study, the men recorded the time they spent exercising during the week. Included in the annotated exercise were disciplines such as running, swimming, bicycling, and even outdoor work.
Most important to runners is that men who walked at a “normal to brisk pace” for 90 minutes during the week had a 46 per cent lower risk of dying from any cause.
“Our results suggest that men can reduce their risk of prostate cancer progression after a diagnosis of prostate cancer by adding physical activity to their daily routine,” wrote Stacey Kenfield, the study’s author.
Another study published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise (MSSE) found that men who ran faster than 4.5 meters per second had a 32 percent less risk of an enlarged prostate than the men who ran less than three meters per second.
The men in the group who trained the longest had a 33 percent less risk of an enlarged prostate than the men who trained the least number of hours.
The researchers concluded: “Our results add to the accumulating evidence that important health benefits accrue at greater exercise doses and greater exercise intensities than currently recommended.”
Nigerian foodstuffs stop prostate cancer
Nigerian researchers have also identified foodstuffs with prostate cancer chemo-preventive polyphenols. The study was published in Infectious Agent Cancer by Sunday Eneojo.
The study noted: “Dietary polyphenols are antioxidants that can scavenge biological free radicals, and chemo prevent diseases with biological oxidation as their main etiological factor. In this paper, we review our laboratory data vis-ὰ-vis available literature on prostate cancer chemo-preventive substances in Nigerian foodstuffs.
Dacryodes edulis fruit (local pear), Moringa oleifera and Syzygium aromaticum (cloves) contained prostate active polyphenols like ellagic acid, gallate, methylgallate, catechol, kaempferol quercetin and their derivatives.
In addition, tomatoes (Lycopersicon esculentum) which contains the powerful antioxidant and anti-prostate cancer agent, lycopene; cabbage (Brassica oleracea) containing indole-3-carbinol; citrus fruits containing pectin; Soursop (Annona muricata) containing annonaceous acetogenins; soya beans (Glycine max) containing isoflavones; chili pepper (Capsicum annuum) containing capsaicin, and green tea (Camellia sinensis) containing (-) epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), (-) epicatechin, (-) epicatechin-3-gallate and (-) epigallocatechin -3-gallate which are widely reported to posses prostate cancer chemo preventive compounds are also grown in Nigeria and other African countries.
Scent leaf inhibits prostate cancer growth
Researchers have also shown the efficacy scent leaf (Ocimum gratissimum) in stopping prostate cancer. The study, titled “Fractionated Ocimum gratissimum Leaf Extract Inhibit Prostate Cancer (PC3·AR) Cells Growth by Reducing Androgen Receptor and Survivin Levels,” was published in the Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved.
In this study, the anti-proliferative activity of the organic solvent-soluble and aqueous extracts of Ocimum gratissimum leaf against the prostate cancer cells PC3·AR were evaluated by their inhibitory effects on the Androgen Receptor (AR) and Survivin protein. Two organic solvent-soluble extracts P2 and P3–2, and a water- soluble extract, PS/PT1, were found to reduce AR and Survivin levels in a time-dependent manner.
In addition, extract PS/PT1, also exhibited the inhibitory activity in a dose-dependent manner. This is the first time that the inhibitory effects of O. gratissimum extracts have been evaluated on the Androgen Receptor (AR) and Survivin protein. The results encouraged the further studies of O. gratissimum as a potential treatment of prostate cancer.
Extracts of breadfruit provide novel treatment for prostate cancer
A composition of breadfruit (Artocarpus altilis), containing extracts of fruits, leaves, or stems, or fractions thereof as active ingredients has received patent for preventing or treating cancer.
Botanically called Artocarpus altilis, breadfruit is a species of flowering tree in the mulberry family Moraceae.
The African breadfruit is botanically called Treculia africana. It is a tropical tree crop also belonging to the taxonomic family Moraceae. It is also called wild jackfruit or African-boxwood. In Nigeria, it is called ukwa in Ibo. It is afon in Yoruba; ize in Benin, Jekri in Sobo; izea in Ijaw; and ediang in Efik.
The abstract of the Patent EP 2889038 A1 noted: “The present invention relates to a pharmaceutical composition for preventing and treating cancer which comprises the extracts of Artocarpus altilis fruits, leaves, or stems, or the fractions thereof as active ingredients. The extracts of Artocarpus altilis fruits, leaves, or stems, or the fractions thereof, according to the present invention, suppress the activity of signal transducer and activator of transcription (STAT3) which plays an important role in the growth of a cancer cell line and in the immune function of the human body, and can thus be effectively used in the prevention and treatment of cancers such as colorectal cancer, stomach cancer, prostate cancer, breast cancer, renal cancer, liver cancer, brain tumor, lung cancer, uterine cancer, colorectal cancer, bladder cancer, or pancreatic cancer.”
The patent filled on July 26, 2013, was published on July 1, 2015.
The inventors are Byoung-Mog Kwon, Dong Cho Han, Joongku Lee, Yoon-jeong JEON, and Sang Ho Choi while the applicant is the Korea Research Institute of Bioscience and Biotechnology.
The patent is the brain child of a novel research by a team of researchers from National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA), Abuja; Korea Research Institute of Bioscience and Biotechnology (KRIBB), Daejeon, South Korea; Center for Biocomputing and Drug Development, Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko; and the Institute for Advanced Medical Research and Training, College of Medicine, University of Ibadan, Oyo State.
Pygeum africanum and Urtica dioica improve urinary function in enlarged prostate
Scientists have also identified more natural recipes for ameliorating mild to moderate lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS) in men with enlarged prostate.
Top on the list are plant extracts of Pygeum africanum and Urtica dioica.
Pygeum africanum (African plum tree or bitter almond) is called emi or olowomefa in Yoruba, ka’danya in Hausa and osisi in Ibo.
Commonly called nettle, big string nettle, common nettle, stinging nettle, Urtica dioica is a leafy plant found in most parts of Nigeria, but ubiquitous in the Southern parts. The Igbos calls it agbara or akuwa; and it is named osokporode in Urhobo while to the Yorubas, it is ewe esinsin or esisi.
Pygeum africanum has been shown to be beneficial in treating BPH. It is especially helpful in increasing urinary function, often limited due to enlarged prostate. Historically, the bark was powdered and used to make a tea, which was taken by mouth for urinary problems.
Fluted pumpkin, other local vegetables prevent cancers
Researchers have validated the leaves of four plant foods commonly consumed in Nigeria namely Gnetum africanum (Ukazi in Igbo), Gongronema latifolium (Utazi in Igbo), Telfairia occidentalis (fluted pumpkin, Ugu in Igbo), Ocimum gratissimum (scent leaf, Nchuanwu in Igbo) for preventing cancers.
The study is published in Journal of Medicinal Food Plants.
Emeka E.J. Iweala led the researchers, from the Department of Biological Sciences, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Unit, Covenant University, Nigeria.
Earlier studies had endorsed extracts from plants, such as Serenoa repens, Urtica dioica, Pygeum africanum, Secale cereale, Curcubita pepo, Hypoxis rooperi, Piper cubeba, Bixa orellana, coconut (Cocos nucifera), and fluted pumpkin (Telfairia occidentalis), as potent botanicals in the management of prostatic diseases.
Also, another study published in the International Research Journal of Biochemistry and Bioinformatics reviewed the anti-cancer properties of some plants used in traditional medicine in Nigeria.
A team of researchers from the Department of Chemical Sciences, Federal University Otuoke, Bayelsa State, led by Taye T. Alawode, identified onion, shallot, pineapple, garlic, Resurrection plant, lime, wormwood, Sodom apple, red palm oil, sausage tree, mango tree, sour-sop, bitter leaf, among others as potent against cancers.
The preliminary screening of these plant foods using simple chemical tests, paper chromatography showed that they contain some known potential cancer chemo-preventive agents such as flavonoids, tannins, chalcones, anthocyanidins, phytos terols, chlorophyll, saponins, glycosides and alkaloids.