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Celery, parsley contain powerful cancer-fighting agent

by Nancy Maneely

Don’t toss that parsley garnish!  Scientists at the University of Missouri raised a lot of excitement recently with their study which found a compound in celery, parsley and other plant foods, including fruits and nuts, that can stop certain breast cancer tumor cells in their tracks. The study was published in Cancer Prevention Research.

In his study, Dr. Salman Hyder exposed rats with a certain type of breast cancer to apigenin, a common compound found in parsley and other plant products. The rats exposed to the apigenin developed fewer tumors and experienced significant delays in tumor formation compared to those rats that were not exposed to apigenin. Hyder believes this finding has special relevance for women’s health – especially for those who are taking certain hormone replacement therapies.

“Six to 10 million women in the United States receive hormone replacement therapy (HRT),” Hyder said in a news release from UM. “We know that certain synthetic hormones used in HRT accelerate breast tumor development. In our study, we exposed the rats to one of the chemicals used in the most common HRTs received in the United States – a progestin called medroxyprogesterone acetate (MPA) – which also happens to be the same synthetic hormone that accelerates breast tumor development.”

Hyder found that apigenin blocked new blood vessel formation in tumor cells, which blocked nutrients from reaching the tumors and thereby delaying, and sometimes stopping, their development.

Apigenin is found in parsley and celery, but is also present in lesser amounts in apples, oranges, nuts and other plant products. It’s not certain yet whether taking it in supplement form is beneficial because apigenin is not absorbed efficiently into the bloodstream. The study points to the likelihood that celery and parsley in particular are anti-cancer superfoods.

 “We don’t have specific dosage for humans yet,” Hyder said. “However, it appears that keeping a minimal level of apigenin in the bloodstream is important to delay the onset of breast cancer that progresses in response to progestins such as MPA. It’s probably a good idea to eat a little parsley and some fruit every day to ensure the minimal amount.”

The next phase of studies will include human clinical trials to determine the appropriate dosage amount, Hyder said. He believes further study on humans is necessary to address any health and safety issues that might exist.

What’s your favorite way to incorporate celery into your daily diet?

Source: University of Missouri

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