South Pacific Plant May Cure Cancer Says Researcher
Research by UC Irvine’s Department of Urology is attempting to find a link between a South Pacific plant and reduction in bladder cancer.
The research, which is led by Xiolin Zi, an associate professor of urology who believes that a plant in the South Pacific Islands known as the Kava plant is responsible for reduced rates of bladder cancer in South Pacific Islander populations despite wide spread smoking.
“Cigarette smoking is a leading cause of bladder cancer, but in the Pacific islands, where kava is plentiful, the incidence of cancer is low despite high smoking rates,” Zi said.
Smoking is responsible for an increase in cancers in addition to throat and lung cancers. Smoking is more widespread in South Asia and the South Pacific than it is in the United States where anti-tabacco advertising laws prevent advertisements to children and taxes tobacco sales higher than other commodities.
Despite this bladder cancer rates in South Pacific countries are lower than in the United States and Zi believes it is because of the Kava plant. The Kava plant is often ground up into tea and drunk before special occasions in South Pacific cultures according to Zi.
Clinical tests on laboratory mice have revealed that compounds in Kava called Flavokawians are responsible for killing pre-cancerous cells in the bladder and fight off the effects of smoking in the bladder by aiding the p-53 protein that keeps cells from becoming cancerous.
Kava may also benefit other cancer victims as a report by the University of Minesota that Flavokawian also blocked the development of breast cancer cells.
Zi’s research has been limited to animal testing but he hopes to start trials on human subjects in the near future. According to Zi there is a lot of potential for future research on herbal remedies for cancer reduction.
“More studies are needed to find out if these natural supplements work and in what circumstances people should use them. There’s a lot of exciting potential in this area of research.”