Navigate Up

UPMC/University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences

University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences

​Popular Herbal Supplement Hinders the Growth of Pancreatic Cells in Preliminary Study

LOS ANGELES, April 17, 2007 A new study from the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute suggests that a commonly used herbal supplement, triphala, has cancer-fighting properties that prevent or slow the growth of pancreatic cancer tumors implanted in mice. The study found that an extract of triphala, the dried and powdered fruits of three plants, caused pancreatic cancer cells to die through a process called apoptosis the body's normal method of disposing of damaged, unwanted or unneeded cells. This process often is faulty in cancer cells. Results of the study, abstract number LB-142, are being presented in a late-breaking session at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research, April 14-18, at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

Triphala, one of the most popular herbal preparations in the world, is used for the treatment of intestinal-related disorders. It is typically taken with water and thought to promote appetite and digestion and to increase the number of red blood cells.

"We discovered that triphala fed orally to mice with human pancreatic tumors was an extremely effective inhibitor of the cancer process, inducing apoptosis in cancer cells," said Sanjay K. Srivastava, Ph.D., lead investigator and assistant professor, department of pharmacology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. "Triphala triggered the cancerous cells to die off and significantly reduced the size of the tumors without causing any toxicside effects."

Dr. Srivastava and colleagues fed mice grafted with human pancreatic tumors 1 to 2 milligrams of triphala for five days a week and then compared tumor size and levels of apoptotic proteins in the tumors to a control group of mice that received normal saline only. They found that the mice that received triphala had increased levels of proteins associated with apoptosis and significantly smaller tumor sizes when compared to the control group. Triphala-treated tumors were half the size of tumors in untreated mice. Further testing revealed that triphala activated tumor-suppressor genes, resulting in the generation of proteins that support apoptosis, but did not negatively affect normal pancreatic cells.

"Our results demonstrate that triphala has strong anticancer properties given its ability to induce apoptosis in pancreatic cancer cells without damaging normal pancreatic cells," said Dr. Srivastava. "With follow-up studies, we hope to demonstrate its potential use as a novel agent for the prevention and treatment of pancreatic cancer," said Dr. Srivastava.

Pancreatic cancer is the fifth-leading cause of cancer death in the United States and is one of the most aggressive cancers, with an extremely poor prognosis.

Co-investigator of the study is Yan Shi, Ph.D., post-doctoral fellow at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute.

 

©  UPMC | Affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences
Supplemental content provided by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions. All rights reserved.

For help in finding a doctor or health service that suits your needs, call the UPMC Referral Service at 412-647-UPMC (8762) or 1-800-533-UPMC (8762). Select option 1.

UPMC is an equal opportunity employer. UPMC policy prohibits discrimination or harassment on the basis of race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, age, sex, genetics, sexual orientation, marital status, familial status, disability, veteran status, or any other legally protected group status. Further, UPMC will continue to support and promote equal employment opportunity, human dignity, and racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity. This policy applies to admissions, employment, and access to and treatment in UPMC programs and activities. This commitment is made by UPMC in accordance with federal, state, and/or local laws and regulations.

Medical information made available on UPMC.com is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should not rely entirely on this information for your health care needs. Ask your own doctor or health care provider any specific medical questions that you have. Further, UPMC.com is not a tool to be used in the case of an emergency. If an emergency arises, you should seek appropriate emergency medical services.

For UPMC Mercy Patients: As a Catholic hospital, UPMC Mercy abides by the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, as determined by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. As such, UPMC Mercy neither endorses nor provides medical practices and/or procedures that contradict the moral teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.

© UPMC
Pittsburgh, PA, USA UPMC.com