Tangerine peel could help fight cancer, researchers say

By Alex McNally

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Fruit

Scientists have formed a company to protect and promote their
research on a molecule found in tangerine peel which could help
fight cancer.

Researchers from Leicester School of Pharmacy said salvestrol Q40 - found in high quantities in the peel of the fruit - was able to destroy cancer cells. Lead researcher Dr Hoon Tan said his work was still at an early stage, but together with his colleagues he has formed a company to investigate further the potential to develop natural anti-cancer therapies. The company, called Nature's Defence Investments, will protect and promote their research, with the potential of designing a natural anti-cancer alternative based on this new technology, he said Tan's findings were announced yesterday at the British Pharmaceutical Conference (BPC) in Manchester, UK. However, NutraIngredients.com has not seen the full study prior to publication. The study adds to increasing body of evidence about the potential health benefits of eating fruit peel, and could even suggest that companies could look to add peel molecules to their products. Salvestrol Q40 is found in the skin of fruits but is removed from the diet when fruit is eaten without its peel or is processed for fruit-based products such as fruit juice. There are higher concentrations of salvestrol Q40 in the peel than in the flesh of the fruit. Salvestrol is a type of phytoalexin a chemical produced by plants to repel attackers, such as insects or fungi. The researchers showed that human cancer cells, which contain an enzyme called P450 CYP1B1, were destroyed by this compound. He said: "Salvestrols may offer a new mechanism of dietary anti-cancer action. Indeed, the depletion of salvestrols in the modern diet is due to the fact that many people no longer eat the skin of fruits and this may be a major contributory factor to the increasing incidence of some cancers in the human population." ​Dr Tan said salvestrol was found in other fruit and vegetables, such as the brassica family, which includes broccoli and brussels sprouts. He added: "It is very exciting to find a compound in food that can target cancers specifically. However, it is still early days and many tests will be needed before reaching the clinical trial stage." ​ In June a survey carried out by the UK Food Standards Agency found one in five UK adults regularly snack on or eat fruit peel as part of their diet, with top choices coming out as orange, lemon and kiwi fruit. It was commissioned to help judge if eating peel should be taken into account when working out how much pesticide residue people are likely to eat in their foods.

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