Cancer is a scary word and anyone who has dealt with cancer understands the seriousness of the disease. Thinking about cancer conjures images of hospitals and medicine.
Cancer occurs when normal cells transform into abnormal cells, The growth of cancer cells is not controlled causing rapid spread. This process may be stimulated by many factors.
The World Health Organization reports cancer is the leading cause of death worldwide. Researchers estimate that between 30% to 50% of cancers are preventable by avoiding risk factors and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
Leading a healthy lifestyle involves eating a diet containing nutritious foods like fruits and vegetables which have essential daily nutrients. Evidence shows that some plants, like soursop, contain cancer-fighting qualities which may be beneficial in cancer treatments.
Soursop benefits for cancer have shown potential in certain types of breast cancer. Continue reading for details about how soursop may help to treat cancer.
Can Soursop Cure Cancer?
At this time there is not enough human research to state that soursop can cure cancer and it is not approved by the FDA or EMA for cancer treatment.
Is Soursop Good For Treating Cancer?
Mainstream cancer treatments include surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, and other targeted cytotoxic therapies such as anticancer drugs that kill cancer cells. Due to side effects, cost, and poor outcomes with conventional treatment, research has expanded into using alternative resources such as plants to fight cancer.
Soursop, or Annona muricata, plant compounds have demonstrated potential therapeutic or beneficial health effects as natural medicines. Their potential anti-cancer qualities are due to high amounts of antioxidant compounds. Antioxidants prevent the formation of free radicals that cause cell damage linked to cancer development.
A systematic review and meta-analysis demonstrated the leaves of A.muricata have shown benefits against cancer cells. Many studies involving soursop components are in vitro, in test tubes, and in vivo in animals. Human trials are limited or smaller randomized controlled trials.
Experts suggest further research is required to determine soursop’s safety and effectiveness in treating human cancer patients. The Food and Drug Administration, FDA, has not approved soursop for cancer treatment.
Other countries, such as the Philippines, Peru, Mexico, Trinidad, and Nigeria, have been using herbal medicine, including parts of the soursop, for cancer treatment. A Jamaican study reported people self-medicating during their cancer treatment with traditional herbal remedies like soursop.
Things You Need To Know About Soursop
The soursop plant, A. muricata, grows in tropical and subtropical regions such as Central America, Southeast Asia, South America, and African rainforest areas. Soursop is also known as guanabana, graviola, or Brazilian paw paw. It’s called soursop because the fruit has a sweet and sour taste.
Soursop contains nutrients such as vitamin C, B1, and B2, fiber, and carbohydrates. Its phytochemical makeup consists of flavonoids, polyphenols, and alkaloids. The most notable of these and potentially cancer-fighting are annonaceous acetogenin compounds or AGEs, which are long-chain fatty acids.
AGEs can stop cancer cell processes, inhibit their ability to reproduce, and cause programmed cell death — also known as apoptosis. Hence, it can kill cancer cells from within by interrupting cell functioning and stopping the rapid reproduction of cancer cells, called proliferation. These events are known as cytotoxic activity.
Research On Soursop And Cancer
All parts of the graviola tree and soursop plant except the roots are used in natural medicines. AGE’s cytotoxic activity against cancer cells and tumor growth is promising in laboratory studies.
Researchers use cell lines to study cancer in laboratories. Studies in non–skin cancer cell lines show that graviola suppresses cancerous cells without harming normal cells, which is the goal of using anticancer agents. The following information offers a simplified summary of lab research regarding each respective cancer type and soursop fruit benefits for cancer.
Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer women experience. Soursop leaf extract and fruit extract induced apoptosis in specific breast cancer cells in several laboratory studies. A.muricata crude extract samples exhibited different levels of cytotoxicity toward breast cancer cell lines indicating it has potential in treating breast cancer.
Evidence shows that Western countries have the highest source of cancer-related death from prostate cancer. Research shows that soursop fruit pulp, fruit extracts, and whole leaf extracts are effective in prostate cancer cell lines. The reduction in prostate size by graviola aqueous leaf extract was suggested to have been caused by apoptosis.
With only an 8% survival rate at the five-year mark, pancreatic cancer is the most deadly form of cancer worldwide. Laboratory studies indicated that A. muricata capsules containing leaf and stem powder have anti-cancer effects in pancreatic cancer cell lines. Pancreatic tumors treated with graviola extract showed a decreased tendency to grow and spread.
Graviola extracts demonstrate in vitro antioxidant potentials with anti-cancer activity for several other cancers such as skin, liver, and lung cancer. Further human trials are necessary to determine if it is an effective cancer treatment.
Research-Based Cancer Prevention Techniques
Current information indicates that lifestyle factors affect your health. Scientists report that leading a healthy lifestyle can decrease the risk of many diseases including cancer. What are some techniques you can use to improve your lifestyle, decrease disease risks, and possibly prevent cancer?
- Eat a healthy diet rich in fruit, vegetables, whole grains, beans, healthy fats, and fish.
- Exercise regularly at a moderate intensity for at least 150 minutes per week to ensure you are getting adequate physical activity.
- Get enough sleep.
- Manage your stress levels.
- Limit sugar-sweetened beverages and alcohol, and avoid smoking.
- Drink plenty of water.
- If you have difficulty consuming enough greens and other plants, try dietary supplements like greens powders, and fruit and vegetable supplements.
Possible Side Effects & Risks
It sounds like soursop extract with its medicinal properties may be a miracle plant. However, scientists caution there is more to learn regarding safety, side effects, and risks for use as an alternative treatment for cancer.
The seeds of the soursop fruit are not edible and may be toxic due to their bioactive compounds. The fruit is eaten independently and used often in other foods. Consuming high amounts of soursop fruit pulp for long periods is associated with neurological effects with symptoms similar to Parkinson’s disease.
Research conducted on A. muricata in the past three decades has not produced viable forms of A. muricata for medicine despite its anticancer properties. Though many forms have been tested, none have been approved by the FDA or the European Medicines Agency which works in a similar capacity as the FDA regulating medicines for the European Union.
Other Health Benefits
The soursop plant is mentioned in many research studies. From 49 research articles obtained from 1981 to 2021, A.muricata’s activities were shown to include anticancer, antidiabetic, anti-diarrhea, anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-hypertensive, and wound healing properties. It seems soursop is full of health-benefiting components.
Soursop supplementation in humans for 12 weeks resulted in lower blood pressure and uric acid levels, which would benefit the kidneys. However, kidney damage was reported in mice. Rats with diabetes who were treated with A. muricata demonstrated lowered blood sugar levels.
Cancer is a complex disease and researching treatments and possible cures adds to the complexity. The soursop plant has been used in traditional medicine for years. However, being leery of any claims reporting soursop saved my life is a safe bet.
Soursop research in vitro and in vivo shows the potential of its antioxidant activities. Evidence of anti-cancer activity against cancer cells may benefit patients battling the disease. Drug safety organizations, such as the FDA and EMA, have not approved soursop as a cancer medicine to date.
Experts must continue testing and expand human trials to reach the next steps toward approval. There is positive evidence that combining Western medicine and traditional or complementary medicine may be an avenue to further explore. For now, we can enjoy the soursop fruit in a smoothie for an extra vitamin C boost.
Frequently Asked Questions
Conventional treatments such as radiation and chemotherapy are currently used to kill cancer cells in the body.
The FDA has not approved soursop for disease treatment to date. However, other countries use it as a traditional medicine for skin disease, respiratory disease, fever, bacterial infections, diabetes, hypertension, and cancer.
Stick to eating a healthy diet consisting of fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grains, and fish.
Soursop contains antioxidant properties, most notably acetogenin or AGE compounds.
Soursop can lower blood sugar and blood pressure, so people in those conditions may need to be careful.