Cranberries Give Boost to Cancer Drug
In Test Tube, Cranberry Extract Makes Ovarian Cancer Drug More Effective
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
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
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
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
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.