(NaturalNews) Take a bite of a juicy, sweet mango and you are experiencing a delicious taste enjoyed by countless people from ancient times until today. According to the Orlando-based National Mango Board (NMG), a mango industry-sponsored research, promotion and consumer information program, mangos are known to be rich in vitamins C and A, as well as fiber. However, because little has been documented about any specific health benefits of eating the fruit, NMB has commissioned a variety of scientific studies to investigate these issues.
So far, this research initiative has turned up an unexpected and groundbreaking discovery: in laboratory experiments in Texas A&M University's AgriLife Research department mango fruit prevented or stopped cancer growth in certain breast and colon cell lines.
Food scientists Dr. Susanne Talcott and her co-researcher husband, Dr. Steve Talcott, used the five varieties of mangos (Kent, Francine, Ataulfo, Tommy/Atkins and Haden) most common in the US and specifically tested polyphenol extracts from the fruit on colon, breast, lung, leukemia and prostate cancer cells. Polyphenols are natural substances in plants that are antioxidants with the potential to protect the body from disease. The Talcotts zeroed in on evaluating polyphenolic compounds in mangos known as gallotannins, a class of natural bioactive compounds believed to help prevent or block the growth of cancer cells.
The results? The Talcotts' experiments showed that the mango extract demonstrated some cancer fighting ability when tested on lung, leukemia and prostate cancer cells. But when tested on the most common breast and colon cancers, mango compounds were found to have even stronger anticancer abilities. In fact, the mango extract caused the breast and colon cancer cells to undergo apoptosis -- programmed cell death.
"Additionally, we found that when we tested normal colon cells side by side with the colon cancer cells, the mango polyphenolics did not harm the normal cells," Dr. Susanne Talcott said in a statement to the press. "That is a general observation for any natural agent, that they target cancer cells and leave the healthy cells alone, in reasonable concentrations at least."
The researchers documented that the cancer cell cycle (the division process cells go through) was interrupted by mango extract. This is crucial information, Suzanne Talcott said in a press statement, because it could explain a possible mechanism for how the cancer cells are prevented or stopped by phytochemicals in mangos. "For cells that may be on the verge of mutating or being damaged, mango polyphenolics prevent this kind of damage," she explained.
The scientists have conducted additional research on the colon cancer cell lines because mangos contain small molecules that are readily absorbed in the colon as well as larger molecules that are not absorbed and remain present longer in the colon. Those facts could potentially make eating mangos a potent way to help prevent colon cancer. In fact, the Talcotts are hoping to next conduct a small clinical trial to see if mangos can prevent colon cancer in people at high risk for a malignancy because they have increased inflammation in their intestines.