Papaya Leaf Tea Shows Anticancer Abilities

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For centuries, various cultures have claimed that papaya has anticancer abilities, with stories reporting remission after consuming papaya tea extract. Now scientists have shown that papaya leaf tea can fight tumors grown in the lab, including breast, cervix, liver, lung, and pancreatic cancers.

Papaya, also known as paw paw, is an excellent source of dietary fiber, folate, and vitamins A, C, and E, and a variety of antioxidant nutrients. Medicinally it has been valued for its enzymes, papain and chymopapain, which help with the digestion of proteins. But its anticancer properties have gone largely unexplored by conventional medicine, until now.

Dr. Nam Dang, professor of medicine at the University of Florida and his colleagues in Japan have recently shown that papaya leaf tea (extract) has anticancer effects and at the same time it does not have any harmful or toxic impact on normal cells, which greatly improves its chances of being an effective cancer-fighting agent. Although this study did not specifically look for the reasons why papaya has this anticancer ability, the researchers did study one cell line and found that papaya extract may stimulate cell death (apoptosis).

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To arrive at these findings, the scientists explored the impact of four potencies of papaya leaf tea on 10 different types of cancer cell cultures. After being exposed to the extract for 24 hours, the researchers observed that the papaya had slowed the growth in all ten cancer cell cultures.

The investigators also found that papaya leaf enhances the manufacture of Th1-type cytokines, molecules that have a role in regulating the immune system. This finding offers hope of yet another potential use for papaya in immune system related conditions.

The results of this study are a stepping stone for further research into the anticancer abilities of papaya and its components. Until more is known about papaya’s cancer-fighting properties, everyone can enjoy this fruit for its excellent vitamin C levels and digestive enzymes.

SOURCES:
Otsuki N et al. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 2010 Feb 17; 127(3): 760-67
University of Florida, news release Mar. 9, 2010

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