Polyphenols derived from fruits and vegetables have been shown to promote cell death in certain types of cancers. Armed with this knowledge, researchers at the University of Southampton sought to find out whether an extract of the chokeberry could be effective against pancreatic cancer, which has a particularly poor five-year survival rate of 1–4%.
A pancreatic cancer cell line was used to test the effectiveness of chokeberry extract at inducing cell death, known as apoptosis, a process that has become faulty in cancer cells. It was found that the combination of chokeberry extract with gemcitabine, the chemotherapy of choice for pancreatic cancer, was more effective at inducing apoptosis in the cancerous cells than gemcitabine alone.
Writing in the Journal of Clinical Pathology
(online, 17 September 2014), the researchers explain the results suggest that elements of chokeberry extract, while not intrinsically toxic, can have “supra-additive effects in combination with at least one conventional cytotoxic drug”. They suggest that micronutrient supplementation should be considered as part of cancer therapy strategies.