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Alternative Therapies for Pancreas Cancer

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Pancreatic Cancer related image Photo: Getty Images

Natural products have demonstrated great promise for cancer therapy. Researchers at the University of Illinois pointed out that paclitaxel, vincristine, and camptothecin are all plant-derived products that are clinically useful anti-tumor agents. Pancreas cancer is one of the least responsive to standard chemotherapy drugs, so alternative therapies are an important area of research. The Illinois team screened 56 plant extracts from Bangladeshi traditional medicine to see how well they kill pancreas cancer cells in lab studies. They identified three extracts with positive results. Other papers in the medical literature identified a variety of natural products that show activity against pancreas cancer cells. Here are some with promising lab results:

1. Resveratrol, a popular dietary supplement from grapes.
2. Pterostilbene, similar to resveratrol and found in blueberries.
3. Quercetin, a flavonoid found in many fruits and vegetables.
4. Omega-3 fatty acids, which are popular for many health benefits.
5. Berberine, a dietary supplement from various plants.
6. Propolis, from bee hives.
7. Cantharidin, an active component of the traditional Chinese medicine mylabris.
8. Chinese herbal medicine PHY906, featured in the report from the 2010 ASCO Symposium.
9. Petunia punctata, Alternanthera sessilis, and Amoora chittagonga: these are the Bangladeshi medicinal plants identified by the Illinois researchers.


1. George S et al, “Cytotoxicity screening of Bangladeshi medicinal plant extracts on pancreatic cancer cells”, BMC Complementary & Alternative Medicine 2010; 10:52.

2. Cui J et al, “Antiproliferative effect of resveratrol in pancreatic cancer cells”, Phytother Res. 2010 Nov; 24(11): 1637-44.

3. Mannal PW et al, “Pterostilbene inhibits pancreatic cancer in vitro”, J Gastrointest Surg. 2010 May; 14(5): 873-9.

4. Zou W et al, “Dietary polyphenol quercetin targets pancreatic cancer stem cells”, Int J Oncol 2010 Sep; 37(3): 551-61.

5. Boutros C et al, “Omega-3 fatty acids: investigations from cytokine regulation to pancreatic cancer gene suppression”, Arch Surg. 2010 Jun; 145(6): 515-20.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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