(NaturalNews) Originally native to southern Mexico and now cultivated in many tropical countries (including Brazil, India, Indonesia, South Africa, Vietnam and Sri Lanka), the papaya plant has been touted by traditional healers for centuries as a source of powerful medicine. Not only is papaya fruit delicious and loaded with vitamins and phytochemicals, but other parts of the plant have been used historically to treat health problems, too. Now University of Florida (UF) researcher Dr. Nam Dang and his colleagues in Japan have announced new evidence that the papaya fights cancer cells. In fact, they discovered that an extract made from dried papaya leaves produced a dramatic anti-cancer effect against a broad range of tumors grown in the laboratory — including cancers of the cervix, breast, liver, lung and pancreas.
The study, recently published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, not only showed that papaya has a direct anti-tumor effect on a variety of malignancies, but it also documented for the first time that papaya leaf extract increases the production of key signaling molecules called Th1-type cytokines. That’s important because this regulation of the immune system raises the strong possibility that the use of papaya could help the body’s own immune system to overcome cancers. In addition, it suggests papaya could be helpful in treating or preventing other health problems such as inflammation and autoimmune diseases.
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