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Published on 13 October 2008

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Natural product may block cancer


A gelling ingredient contained in jelly and jam could help prevent the spread of cancer, according to new research.

Pectin, a natural fibre product found in fruits and vegetables, is believed to block a key cancer progression pathway in the body.

Laboratory tests have demonstrated that, under the right conditions, it releases a molecular fragment with anti-cancer properties.

This fragment binds to galectin 3 (gal3), a protein that influences all stages of cancer progression. Interfering with gal3 in this way is expected to curb its ability to spur on cancer.

Professor Vic Morris, who led the study at the Institute of Food Research, said the modified pectin used in jellies and jams was likely to produce the anti-cancer effect.

“The treatments used by the food industry to modify pectin would emphasise the release of the fragment we’ve identified,” he said. “I expect you would get some protection from jam, but it’s packed full of sugar.

“It might be better to get the same protection from fruit and vegetables which would give you other anti-cancer magic bullets as well.”

The journal Glycobiology published a laboratory study last year that showed pectin can slow the growth of prostate cancer.

Copyright PA Business 2008

Institute of Food Research

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