While medicine has come a long way in the early detection and effective treatment of cancer, the methods embraced by mainstream medical practice are clearly not successful enough: cancer remains among the top ten causes of death, not just in the United States but in many countries across the globe. And, too, most cancer patients are faced with three basic choices to treat their disease: surgery, radiation or chemotherapy.
Some patients simply want more choice when it comes to these important decisions.
That is way natural therapies, like the enzyme bromelain, found naturally in pineapples, has given new hope to people who are trying to treat their cancer with lifestyle changes like diet. And preliminary studies have certainly given them reasons to be optimistic.
What is Bromelain?
Bromelain is the active substance found in the steam and fruits of pineapples. Because bromelain is what is called a protease enzyme, it is a powerful anti-inflammatory. Chronic inflammation is now thought to be an important risk factor for cancer and allows cancer cells to thrive and spread; this is one way in which scientists believe that bromelain makes the body less hospitable to cancer cell development.
Due to its powerful anti-inflammatory properties, incidentally, bromelain can also be used to treat other chronic conditions like arthritis, ulcerative colitis and other conditions with inflammation as their underlying cause.
Recent research has given cause for scientists and patients alike to be hopeful that bromelain might give them a natural alternative to traditional cancer treatment.
In one study on laboratory mice, the bromelain enzyme was found to be more effective at treating cancer than the chemo drug 5-FU. What’s more, while this chemo drug, which has been used in some form for over 40 years, kills healthy and cancerous cells indiscriminately (which leads to unwanted side effects like severe digestive difficulty), bromelain has shown the ability to kill cancer cells while leaving healthy cells untouched. This is the major drawback or therapies like chemo or radiation and one of the reasons why so many cancer patients seek out more natural remedies.
These reasons were published in the journal Planta Medica and will hopefully spur on further studies to better understand why bromelain is such an effective anti-cancer drug. Lack of funding due to the fact that, because bromelain is a natural enzyme it cannot be patented by big drug companies has made further research more difficult, however.
Due to financial interests of drug companies, it is unlikely that bromelain will ever be developed as a mainstream therapy for cancer. However, this does not mean that patients cannot avail themselves of bromelain on their own and make it part of an overall healthy lifestyle (healthy diet, regular exercise, smoking cessation) to help prevent or treat development of cancer in the body.
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