The so-called Mediterranean diet has been recognized as one of the healthiest lifestyle options. Its emphasis on fruits, vegetables, and whole grains has been associated with anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory tendencies.
But, what exactly is at work?
Researchers from the Applied Science Private University in Jordan published a paper that detailed their research into the combination of lemon and ginger in the journal Frontiers of Nutrition in April 2022.
As the researchers note, millions of people are diagnosed with cancer every year, and while much progress has been made, existing therapies have their limits.
- Several studies have observed a link between a reduced risk of cancer and a higher intake of polyphenols – the compounds in fruits and vegetables that create their taste and color;
- Many studies have also shown benefits to combining conventional cancer treatments with specific diet therapy;
- Other studies have shown health benefits to consuming both lemon (Citrus limonum) and ginger (Zingiber officinale Roscoe)
The new study
Citrus forms a significant part of the Mediterranean diet, and ginger is a very common ingredient in many dishes. Both are often combined as a herbal tea.
- The study looked at daily consumption of a ginger-lemon infusion at a specific concentration;
- The combination was tested for anticancer and immunomodulatory activities in vitro and in vivo using a mouse model of breast cancer;
- It was administered to mice who had been inoculated with breast cancer cells;
- The mice had been injected with six different types of breast cancer cell lines.
The title of the paper says it all: Daily Consumption of Lemon and Ginger Herbal Infusion Caused Tumor Regression and Activation of the Immune System in a Mouse Model of Breast Cancer
- 50% of the mice taking the lemon-ginger combination did not develop tumors;
- Existing tumors were reduced by 32.8%.
Certain activities were found to be at work:
- Cell proliferation was inhibited, so that cancer cells couldn’t continue to multiply;
- The formation of new blood vessels, which the cancer cells require to grow, was also inhibited;
- Other factors (VEGF expression) that promote cancer cell growth were lowered.
While both plants have their own anti-cancer properties, the researchers noted that the combination created synergistic effects – i.e. together the effect was even more potent because of the abundance of phytochemicals working in concert.
The researchers concluded:
The lemon and ginger combination represents promising options to develop anticancer infusions for augmenting conventional anticancer therapies. Further testing is required to understand the exact molecular mechanisms of this combination.