A new study published in Food Research International suggest that extracts from red onions, which are rich in quercetin and anthocyanins can be used to treat a number of cancers including colon cancer, breast cancer and maybe other cancers like endometrial cancer, lung cancer, and prostate cancer.
The study compared five varieties of onions including red, yellow and white onions such as Lasalle, Fortress, Safrane, Stanely and Ruby Ring to examine their anticancer activity in colon cancer cell lines.
The study conducted by Researchers at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada found extracts from red onions were most effective against colon cancer cells. The scientists found red onions effectively killed the cancer cells and Ruby Ring” was the most powerful against malignant cells. It is not surprised because red onions have higher quercetin and anthocyanins.
Red onions are high in quercetin and anthocyanin with the latter enhancing the scavenging properties of quercetin against cancer cells. Extracts from red onions were found effective against breast cancer cells.
The scientists found extracts from five onions effective at inducing cytotoxic, cytostatic and anti-igratory activity against human colon cancer cells. The extracts promoted apoptosis, slow proliferation and migration of cancer cells.
The extracts of these onions at least provided an anticancer effect that is comparable to that rendered by the commercially available purified flavonoid compounds like quercetin.
Previous studies have already revealed the anticancer properties in onions.
A 1998 study found eight organosulfur compounds isolated from onions and garlic were protective against the initiation of cancer. Similarly, a 2001 study confirmed garlic and onions helped stave off cancer.
The researchers suggested the anticancer properties may be due to the presence of the organosulfur compounds in garlic and onions.
It is not organosulfur compounds that protect against cancer. A study released in 2005 identified flavonoids like quercetin in southern Italian red onions that have anticancer activities against cancer cells. Like the current study, that study also found the onion variety has high concentrations of the flavonoid quercetin.
Quercetin has been found helpful in mitigating the growth and proliferation of breast cancer, colon cancer, endometrial cancer, lung cancer, and prostate cancer.
These studies were conducted in laboratories. How they can help fight cancer remains to be further studied in human trials. But that won’t happen because no company would sponsor such trials because no natural compounds can be patented.
Quercetin and anthocyanins can only be found in fruits and vegetables. Do not eat meat and dairy products for these compounds.
Although human trials are desired, cancer patients should not hesitate to start eating tons of red onions and garlic. Be aware that if organosulfur compounds are partially responsible for their anticancer activities, they the onions and garlic that smell the worst can be most effective at fighting cancer. (David Liu)