Walnuts, pecans may halt growth of prostate cancer cells

December 23, 2004

The vitamin E from certain seeds might stop the growth of prostate and lung cancer cells, according to a report in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (published online Dec. 13, 2004).

The vitamin E from certain seeds might stop the growth of prostate and lung cancer cells, according to a report in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (published online Dec. 13, 2004).

Researchers from Purdue University, led by Qing Jiang, PhD, found that walnuts, pecans, sesame seeds, corn, and sesame oil contain gamma-tocopherol, which kills human prostate and lung cancer in lab cultures. The vitamin interrupts the synthesis of sphingolipids in the cancer cells but leaves the healthy human prostate cells unaffected.

The scientists also found that most manufactured vitamin supplements do not contain gamma-tocopherol, but do contain alpha-tocopherol. The latter is another form of vitamin E that does not have anti-cancer properties.

"This is the first time gamma-tocopherol has been shown to induce death in lab-grown human cancer cells while leaving healthy cells alone," said Dr. Jiang. "This could be wonderful news for cancer patients if the effect can be reproduced in animal models."