Jeremy Craig, 404-413-1357
ATLANTA — The American Cancer Society has awarded a $720,000 grant to a Georgia State University scientist to explore the cancer preventing benefits of sweet potato greens in prostate cancer.
The American Cancer Society Research Scholar Grant awarded to Ritu Aneja, associate professor of biology, provides research support for four years in the quest to further Aneja’s focus on the search for natural, non-toxic ways to prevent cancer by selectively killing cancer cells while sparing the normal ones.
This is the third grant from the American Cancer Society for GSU’s Department of Biology, according to Department Chair and Regents’ Professor Phang Tai.
One approach to reducing the prevalence of prostate cancer is to prevent its occurrence by using plant-based dietary agents. Estimates suggest that nearly one-third of all cancer deaths could be prevented through dietary modification, and fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of cancer preventative substances.
While commonly eaten in West Africa and in Asia – specifically, Taiwan and mainland China – sweet potato greens represent a valuable, untapped food resource in the United States, possessing excellent natural health-promoting benefits.
Sweet potato greens are rich in Vitamin B, beta carotene, iron, calcium and zinc, containing as many vitamins, minerals and other nutrients as spinach. Preliminary data from Aneja's research group demonstrating the anti-cancer potential of sweet potato greens extract has recently been published in the journal Carcinogenesis, and serve as the basis for further studies to be carried out with the American Cancer Society Research Scholar Grant.
Aneja’s lab takes a holistic approach when investigating molecules in plants which have promising anti-cancer properties, as the synergies between individual chemicals from plants may be key in understanding the anti-cancer properties of fruits and vegetables. By using natural, non-toxic ways to combat cancer, the debilitating side effects of commonly used anti-cancer medicines can be avoided.
Recently, Aneja’s lab uncovered the anti-cancer properties of whole ginger extract in a first-of-its-kind study looking at ginger as a whole. Her research team found tumor regression by up to 60 percent. The research appeared this summer online in the British Journal of Nutrition.
For more about biology at Georgia State, visit http://biology.gsu.edu. For more about Aneja’s previous research into whole ginger extract, visit http://www.gsu.edu/news/53580.html.
Nov. 10, 2011