Can Orange Juice Cure Cancer?

Maybe not, but along with aspirin, it might help

Feb 10, 2014
Outside Magazine

What effects do common supplements have on cancer?    Getty Images/iStockphoto

Drugstore chain CVS dominated cancer-related news last week with its decision to stop selling cigarettes at its stores by October 1. That might be too late, however, for many female smokers.

New findings from Seattle's Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center suggest that women who smoke as few as 100 cigarettes in their lifetime increase their chances of developing breast cancer by 30 percent, according to the Daily Mail. That figure doubles among female smokers who go through a pack a day for at least a decade.

Smoking increases cancer risk—we knew that already. But one study has thrown belief in the cancer-combating benefits of another substance into question. The research, published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, observed mixed effects of antioxidants in mice with cancer.

First, the good news: High doses of vitamin C administered via injection seemed to kill cancer cells without harming normal ones while also reducing the side-effects of chemotherapy. The injection medium proved pivotal, however, because the human body quickly excretes vitamin C when consumed orally.

This leads to the bad news: Orally ingested antioxidant supplements might actually protect cancer cells. As Forbes reports, taking extra antioxidants, including vitamin E, could accelerate tumor growth in cancer patients by decreasing the activity of a gene designed to kill defective cells. The bottom line? The jury's still out on the cancer-fighting effects of antioxidants; the study, which analyzed mice, calls for a large-scale investigation of human patients.

Instead of reaching for that antioxidant supplement, you might want to grab a bottle of good old aspirin from your medicine cabinet—if you're a woman, that is. That's because the National Cancer Institute just released a study concluding daily aspirin use could reduce the risk of ovarian cancer by as much as 20 percent. Previous studies confirmed the cancer-fighting benefits of aspirin—the drug's anti-inflammatory properties diminish cancer risk—but often came up inconclusive when it came to ovarian cancer.

Both genders might have a new cancer-fighting tool if a new invention comes to fruition. University of Washington scientists and engineers are developing a device to streamline the biopsy process for pancreatic cancer diagnoses. Other cancers, like those of the breast, colon, and lung, have simple and quick detection methods that have improved patient prognoses. Pancreatic cancer could soon join that list. The new, silicon-based device generates 3-D images of cellular masses in a matter of minutes. Scientists report that this marks the first time material larger than a single-celled organism has moved through a microfluidic device, a development that could have broad ramifications in multiple fields.

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