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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Researchers have found that men who drink an average of four to seven glasses of red wine per week are only half as likely (52% ) to be diagnosed with prostate cancer as those who do not drink red wine. In addition, red wine appears particularly protective against advanced or aggressive cancers.

Why red wine? Scientists are focusing on plant chemicals -- especially resveratrol -- found in wine, in grapes and in several other fruits. Resveratrol appears to normalize certain cancer-stimulating processes in cells, upregulate vitamin D3 and counterbalance androgens, the male hormones that stimulate the prostate.
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