Promising studies show beta sitosterol may help fight cancer
TORONTO — A phytosterol, Beta-Sitosterol (SIT), identified in peanuts and peanut products, has been shown to inhibit cancer growth, as well as to protect against heart disease. Exciting new research published last week in Nutrition and Cancer, (Vol. 36, No. 2), suggests this compound may inhibit cancer and may help protect against heart disease.
Phytosterols are natural chemicals found in plants. The most common forms are Beta-sitosterol, Campesterol, and Stigmasterol, which are found in high concentrations in some legumes, such as peanuts, plant oils and seeds.
Researchers at the State University of New York at Buffalo examined the SIT content of several peanut products. They found that snack peanuts contain 160 mg SIT/100 gm and regular peanut butter contains 157 mg SIT/100 gm. Peanut oil contains approximately 198 mg SIT/100 gm, and is a good source of SIT. In fact, refined peanut oil contains 38 per cent more protective SIT than refined (pure) olive oil.
Dr. Atif Awad, co-investigator of the study and professor of nutrition at the State University of New York at Buffalo said, “Studies from our laboratory and others suggest that plant sterol consumption offers protection from colon, breast and prostate cancer. Therefore, identifying peanuts and its products such as peanut butter, oil and flour as good sources of SIT may provide major health benefits.”
Phytosterols and the Cancer Connection
Several theories regarding the mechanism of action of phytosterols as a protective factor include inhibiting of cell division, stimulating death of tumour cells and modifying some of the hormones that are essential to tumour growth.
In another study by Dr. Awad, recently published in anti-cancer Research, mice with human cancer tumours were fed either a phytosterol diet or a cholesterol diet. Tumour size in animals fed the phytosterols was 33% smaller and had 20% fewer shifts of cancer cells to lymph nodes and lungs than in the cholesterol diet group.
The article concludes, “Phytosterols, which can be easily incorporated into our diet, may offer a relatively simple and practical means for retarding growth and metastases of breast cancer cells.”
End of article.