Flashback Friday: Anti-Cancer Potential of Sweet Potato Proteins

Flashback Friday: Anti-Cancer Potential of Sweet Potato Proteins

August 19, 2019 58 By William Morgan


“Anti-Cancer Potential of Sweet Potato Proteins” Sweet potatoes can be considered a superfood, one of the healthiest vegetables on the planet, and one day perhaps even off the planet as NASA has chosen it for space missions. One of the healthiest – and cheapest! This study aimed to identify which vegetables provided the most nutrients per dollar. If you look at a graph of
affordability versus nutrition, you can see that the healthiest foods,
like dark green leafy vegetables, may also be among the cheapest, and the highest nutrient-rich foods scores per dollar were obtained for sweet potatoes. They’re not just packed with nutrition, but may have special cancer fighting properties. In 1931, a unique protein was discovered
in sweet potatoes, later renamed. 80% of the protein in
sweet potatoes is a type of protease inhibitor with
potential anti-cancer effects. It was originally tested against leukemia cells and appears to suppress the growth
of leukemia cells in a Petri dish, but how would a sweet potato protein
ever get into our blood stream? As soon as most proteins hit our
stomach, they start getting digested. So they tried sweet potato
protein against tongue cancer. Sweet potato constituents certainly
come in contact with our mouth. Tongue cancer’s often treated with chemo, however most of the chemo drugs for tongue
cancer have great aversive side effects, so it is indispensable for us to
find other therapeutic strategies. Sweet potato protein rapidly diminished viability
of the cancer within a matter of days, leading them to propose that sweet potato
may be useful for human tongue cancer, but presumably not much else? Remarkably though, this class of proteins
doesn’t just survive digestion, but may be absorbed into
the blood stream in tact, in at least two of the nine women with advanced
cervical cancer they tried giving it to. So most recently it was tried on colorectal cancer cells,
one of our most common and deadly cancers. Normally we just surgically remove the colon, but that only works in the early stages
since there are often micro-metastases outside the colon that can subsequently
lead to cancer occurrence and death. And so we’ve started searching
for anti-metastatic agents. And not only does sweet potato protein slow
down the growth of colon cancer cells, but decreases cancer cell migration and invasion. Though sweet potato consumption has been
associated with lower gall bladder cancer rates, it’s never been directly put to the test,
but what’s the downside?