Cranberries Give Boost to Cancer Drug

In Test Tube, Cranberry Extract Makes Ovarian Cancer Drug More Effective By Daniel J. DeNoon WebMD Health News Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD Aug. 21, 2007 - A simple cranberry juice extract makes platinum-based cancer drugs six times more potent against ovarian cancer. The test-tube findings are a long way from cancer patients' bedsides. But Rutgers University natural products researchers Ajay P. Singh, PhD, and Nicholi Vorsa, PhD, are optimistic. "This has opened up exciting possibilities for therapeutic intervention associated with platinum therapy," Singh and Vorsa say in a news release. Platinum-based chemotherapy is the mainstay of treatment for ovarian cancer. But over time, the cancers tend to become resistant to the drugs. This means increased chemotherapy dosage -- and increased toxicity to patients. The researchers note that compounds isolated from cranberries kill human ovary, brain, and prostate cells in laboratory studies. This anticancer activity seems to come from a family of chemicals called proanthocyanidins (PACs). These "amazing chemical entities," Singh and Vorsa suggest, are unique to cranberries and are not found in other fruits. Exactly how the cranberry compounds work isn't known. But in their lab studies, Singh and Vorsa tested them against platinum-resistant ovarian cancer cells. Singh and Vorsa found that in the presence of cranberry extract -- which came from a commercially available, 27% juice cranberry drink -- platinum-based chemotherapy was six times more effective against platinum-resistant ovarian cancer cells. They will soon begin animal studies to see whether this happens outside the laboratory. For the time being, however, they warn patients not to start drinking significant quantities of cranberry juice without their doctors' permission. Cranberry juice itself, they note, is not a cure for cancer. Singh and Vorsa reported the findings in a presentation to the 234th national meeting of the American Chemical Society.

POSADAS, Kristina Grace SUMMARY:


Cranberry s health benefits have long been established-what with its UTI- and stomach ulcerprevention abilities. However, with recent developments, it seems there s no stopping this wonder berry just yet- not even what most consider as the modern Hitler of the human race. Initial research findings have shown that cranberries may act as a catalyst when used in conjunction with chemotherapeutic drugs, specifically platinum-based agents. The primary hypothesis for such phenomenon is that a specific type of antioxidant unique of cranberries, renders resistant and non-resistant ovarian cancer cells (in vitro) six times more vulnerable to anti-neoplastic effects. Such may therefore mean an increase in the desired therapeutic effects of chemotherapy and a subsequent decrease in the client s risk for toxicity. REACTION: Backed with their antioxidant properties, cranberries certainly have a long way to go than just preventing UTIs and stomach ulcers-and such was given justice by the recent research presented. However, as a member of the health care team, certain aspects of my duty are called for, primarily as a health educator and client advocate. A great emphasis must be placed on the fact that these are only results of initial clinical trials and that cranberries are being tested merely to explore if they do improve the efficacy of chemotherapeutic drugs and not as a cure for cancer per se. Such educative effort is of great bearing since a lot of our clients and their significant others tend to be desperate hopefuls. They tend to jump into conclusions and experiment once such findings are heard of- a feat that may prove more harmful than beneficial in the long run. As a follow up, guidelines are yet to be established in case of positive conclusive findings. Standards must be set for the following: Who are qualified to have such adjunct therapy? Is the therapy limited to ovarian cancer clients alone? Are there any contraindications as far as therapy is concerned? What side and adverse effects are to be anticipated? What are the recommended dosages? What are the set therapeutic levels? What route is to be used in administration? Are commercial cranberry juices/extracts/pills effective enough?

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