Pectin, a type of fiber found in fruits and vegetables and used in making jams and other foods, kills prostate cancer cells according to a new University of Georgia study.
“What this paper shows is that if you take human prostate cancer cells and add pectin, you can induce programmed cell death,” said Debra Mohnen, a professor of biochemistry and molecular biology. “If you do the same with non-cancerous cells, cell death doesn’t occur.”
Mohnen’s study, published in the August issue of the journal Glycobiology, found that exposing prostate cancer cells to pectin under laboratory conditions reduced the number of cells by up to 40 percent. Mohnen, a UGA Cancer Center researcher, her UGA colleagues and Vijay Kumar, chief of research and development at the VA Medical Center in Augusta, found that the cells self-destructed in a process known as apoptosis. Pectin even killed cells that aren’t sensitive to hormone therapy and therefore are difficult to treat with current medications.
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