Papain (from papaya)

January 13 2010 post. A blog reader, thank you!, sent me a link to a Myeloma Beacon article (see: http://tinyurl.com/y86k9py) on papain, an enzyme contained in papaya fruit trees, which breaks down proteins. One such protein, called fibrin, makes up the protective layer of cancer cells. Papain degrades fibrin and damages this protective layer, making the cells more susceptible to immune response or chemotherapy. The compound also hinders tumor growth and prevents it from spreading to other parts of the body.

Please go read the rest of the story. Interesting…

My only experience with papaya was dreadful, to be honest…but makes for an amusing tale, so here goes. A few years ago, when I was experimenting a lot with veggie and fruit juices (using my fabulous Greenstar juicer), I bought a couple of organic papayas. Now, I had read online that it was best not to juice the seeds because of their extreme bitterness, but hah, Margaret knows best!, so I washed, cut up and shoved everything down the juicer shoot, figuring that the sweetness of an apple would lessen the bitter, er…impact. Well, it didn’t: my lips puckered, my face puckered, even my hair puckered…haven’t bought a papaya since…but after reading this article, I will!

This time, though, I will remove the gazillion and a half seeds contained in each fruit…

UPDATE March 10 2010 post. Remember my post on papaya and myeloma? If not, here is a reminder: http://margaret.healthblogs.org/2010/01/13/myeloma-papayas-and-papain/. Well, today I have a promising papaya (…promising papaya? hehe, sometimes my fingers type the darndest things!) update. According to a newly published University of Florida study, a papaya leaf extract had a dramatic anticancer effect against a broad range of lab-grown tumors, including cancers of the cervix, breast, liver, lung and pancreas.

You can read the UF press release here: http://news.ufl.edu/2010/03/09/papaya-2/ Interesting excerpt: Researchers exposed 10 different types of cancer cell cultures to four strengths of papaya leaf extract and measured the effect after 24 hours. Papaya slowed the growth of tumors in all the cultures. This extract attacked the cancer cells but left the healthy ones alone…

There was no mention of cancer cell apoptosis (=programmed cell death) in the press release, which talks “only” about slowing the growth of cancer cells, so I would like to read the full study at some point…I would be curious to see if myeloma cells were tested, too. The researchers tested ten different cancer cells, but only five types (=cervix, breast, liver, lung and pancreas, see above) are mentioned in the press release…

By the way, you can find the abstract here: http://tinyurl.com/y96k4z9. The papaya-cancer study is no. 27 (click on “Preview”) on the list of articles published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology‘s February 17 issue…I must bookmark this journal! Just have a look at some of the other titles…fascinating…indeed.

Now, one thing that interested me about this papaya extract is that it increased the production of a certain class of cytokines: Th-1. Without going into too much detail, this is a very good thing…for myeloma patients, too, it would seem. As usual, you see, I immediately checked PubMed where I found several studies on the benefits of an increased Th-1  production in myeloma treatment, including this one showing that Th-1 suppresses the growth and function of myeloma cells: http://tinyurl.com/yd5bbfb

In conclusion, once again we have a non-toxic, anticancer extract that targets only cancer cells, not healthy ones…an extract that may affect myeloma cells, too (please note my use of the conditional tense…I need to study this topic a bit more…).

You know, I am getting a bit tired of repeating the same things over and over again…about how much funding goes into toxic drug research compared to non-toxic (mind-boggling, really!)…let me just say that this time I really really hope that Dr. Dang’s very promising research will receive a lot of attention…AND funding. 

In the meantime, I wonder…where does one find papaya leaves…??? Papaya leaf tea…well, why not?

1 Comment

  1. Great article . I was looking for a Natural Foods and suppliments to boost my low plalets , when I can across your site.
    Currently I am juicing using Papaya, Pineapple ,apple and beef . I use ice and carrot juice to start the blender process. Are there any Clinical trials at the Univ of Florida or any other Univ, with Papaya or any other products that is aids in Boosting Platlets? Thank You PS I will try the Papaya Tea recommendation..Adios Peace

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