Mangoes may protect against breast, colon cancer

Updated: Jan 12, 2010, 00:00 AM IST

Washington: Mango lovers have a new reason to savour their favourite fruit - it has been found to protect against colon and breast cancer.

Though mango is an ancient fruit heavily consumed in many parts of the world, little has been known about its health aspects.

"If you look at what people currently perceive as a superfood, people think of high antioxidant capacity, and mango is not quite there," said Dr. Susanne Talcott, who with her husband, Dr. Steve Talcott, conducted the study on cancer cells.

"In comparison with antioxidants in blueberry, acai and pomegranate, it``s not even close," she added.

The new study from Texas AgriLife Research food scientists found it to prevent or stop cancer growth in certain breast and colon cell lines.

"It has about four to five times less antioxidant capacity than an average wine grape, and it still holds up fairly well in anticancer activity," said Susanne.

"If you look at it from the physiological and nutritional standpoint, taking everything together, it would be a high-ranking super food. It would be good to include mangoes as part of the regular diet," she added.

The researchers tested mango polyphenol extracts in vitro on colon, breast, lung, leukemia and prostate cancers.

Mango showed some impact on lung, leukemia and prostate cancers but was most effective on the most common breast and colon cancers.

"What we found is that not all cell lines are sensitive to the same extent to an anticancer agent," she said.

"But the breast and colon cancer lines underwent apotosis, or programmed cell death.

"Additionally, we found that when we tested normal colon cells side by side with the colon cancer cells, that the mango polyphenolics did not harm the normal cells," she added.

Further tests on the colon cancer lines showed that normal cells weren``t killed, so mango is not expected to be damaging in the body, Susanne said.

"For cells that may be on the verge of mutating or being damaged, mango polyphenolics prevent this kind of damage," she added.