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Alternative Botanical Medicine to Treat Mesothelioma

A study by the University of Tokyo and University of Florida investigated the anti-tumor effects of aqueous extract of Carica papaya leaves that may prove to be helpful adjunct treatment for patients with mesothelioma, an asbestos related cancer.

Mesothelioma is a non-small cell lung cancer that is caused by exposure to asbestos.  Symptoms of mesothelioma do not develop until ten to forty years after exposure. Tumors form in the lining of the lungs, heart or abdomen, are often advanced at time of diagnosis, and are difficult to treat.  Standard therapies have not proven to be very effective and therefore alternative treatments are continuously being investigated.

One recent in vitro study focused on the potential for the leaves of Carica papaya (CP), a plant originally found in the southern part of Mexico, to be used as a remedy for cancer.  Researchers demonstrated that the aqueous extract does indeed have anti-tumor effects.  CP extract was shown to have:

·         anti-proliferative effect on tumor cells – slows down the spreading and increase of number of cancerous cells in the body

·         promotes Th1 type cytokine production – Th1 type cells help to strengthen the body’s immune system, induce cellular immunity, and increase cytotoxicity

·         enhances cytotoxicity against tumor cells – increases destruction to specific malignant cells, effectively killing cancer cells

·         causes upregulation of anti-tumor related genes in PBMC – increases expression of anti-cancer  genes in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) which increases  immunity

Further research into CP extract is needed to establish it as an anti-cancer agent; however this study did show that this botanical does increase the production of Th1 type cytokines from human lymphocytes, demonstrating its ability to have anti-tumor effects and enhance immune responses.

Due to no known side effects of CP extract, adding this botanical remedy to a mesothelioma treatment plan could benefit overall response.   For full details of the study, read the full article in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology