Mango Effective in Preventing
Colon and Breast Cancer
Mango fruit been found to prevent or stop certain colon and breast
cancer cells in the lab.
That's according to a new study by Texas AgriLife Research food
scientists, who examined the five varieties most common in the
U.S.: Kent, Francine, Ataulfo, Tommy/Atkins and Haden.
Though the mango is an ancient fruit heavily consumed in many
parts of the world, little has been known about its health aspects.
The National Mango Board commissioned a variety of studies with
several U.S. researchers to help determine its nutritional value.
"If you look at what people currently perceive as a superfood,
people think of high antioxidant capacity, and mango is not quite
there," said Dr. Susanne Talcott, who with her husband, Dr.
Steve Talcott, conducted the study on cancer cells. "In comparison
with antioxidants in blueberry, acai and pomegranate, it's not
But the team checked mango against cancer cells anyway, and found
it prevented or stopped cancer growth in certain breast and colon
cell lines, Susanne Talcott noted.
"It has about four to five times less antioxidant capacity
than an average wine grape, and it still holds up fairly well
in anticancer activity. If you look at it from the physiological
and nutritional standpoint, taking everything together, it would
be a high-ranking super food," she said. "It would be
good to include mangoes as part of the regular diet."
The Talcotts tested mango polyphenol extracts in vitro on colon,
breast, lung, leukemia and prostate cancers. Polyphenols are natural
substances in plants and are associated with a variety of compounds
known to promote good health.
Mango showed some impact on lung, leukemia and prostate cancers
but was most effective on the most common breast and colon cancers.
"What we found is that not all cell lines are sensitive
to the same extent to an anticancer agent," she said. "But
the breast and colon cancer lines underwent apotosis, or programmed
cell death. Additionally, we found that when we tested normal
colon cells side by side with the colon cancer cells, that the
mango polyphenolics did not harm the normal cells."
The duo did further tests on the colon cancer lines because a
mango contains both small molecules that are readily absorbed
and larger molecules that would not be absorbed and thus remain
present in a colon.
"We found the normal cells weren't killed, so mango is not
expected to be damaging in the body," she said. "That
is a general observation for any natural agent, that they target
cancer cells and leave the healthy cells alone, in reasonable
concentrations at least."
The Talcotts evaluated polyphenolics, and more specifically gallotannins
as being the class of bioactive compounds (responsible for preventing
or stopping cancer cells). Tannins are polyphenols that are often
bitter or drying and found in such common foods as grape seed,
wine and tea.
The study found that the cell cycle, which is the division cells
go through, was interrupted. This is crucial information, Suzanne
Talcott said, because it indicates a possible mechanism for how
the cancer cells are prevented or stopped.
"For cells that may be on the verge of mutating or being
damaged, mango polyphenolics prevent this kind of damage,"
The Talcotts hope to do a small clinical trial with individuals
who have increased inflamation in their intestines with a higher
risk for cancer.
"From there, if there is any proven efficacy, then we would
do a larger trial to see if there is any clinical relevance,"
According to the National Mango Board, based in Winter Park,
Fla., most mangoes consumed in the U.S. are produced in Mexico,
Ecuador, Peru, Brazil, Guatemala and Haiti. Mangoes are native
to southeast Asia and India and are produced in tropical climates.
They were introduced to the U.S. in the late 1800s, and a few
commercial acres still exist in California and Florida.
January 12, 2010