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The first study to examine the effects of certain compounds in peanuts on the spread of cancer is about to be published–and the results show serious consequences for your anti-cancer diet, especially if you have metastatic cancer.
Certain proteins in peanuts, called peanut agglutinin (PNA), fuel the spread of tumors, says a research team from the University of Liverpool. PNA is a type of lectin, proteins that stick to different molecules of carbohydrates, and the molecules that PNA targets are present in most human cancer cells.
“Previous studies have shown that PNA is highly resistant to cooking and digestion and rapidly enters the human blood circulation after peanut ingestion,” say the authors. There it binds to cancer cells that have spread to the blood, helping them to form clusters and to stick to the lining of blood vessels, explained Dr. Lugang Yu, one of the study’s authors. As you probably already know, most cancers spread–or metastasize– to distant organs by travelling through the bloodstream.
“As metastasis accounts for the majority of cancer-associated fatality, regular consumption of peanuts by cancer patients would therefore be expected to have an adverse effect on cancer survival,” the authors conclude.
The journal “Carcinogenesis” has just published the abstract and will soon be publishing the full study. The work was done in cell cultures and animal models and focused on cancer cells that originate in the epithelial tissues that cover organs and line body cavities. Epithelial cancers account for 85 – 90% of human cancers. (Here’s more information on which types of cancer may be affected and why.)
“More studies will be needed to test if peanut agglutinin will affect metastasis in cancer that is not of epithelial origin,” Yu said.
Kudos to the American Institute of Cancer Research for funding this groundbreaking work.