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Study: Mistletoe Effective Against Colon Cancer

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Mistletoe farmers prepare for the Christmas rush. (Credit: Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

Mistletoe farmers prepare for the Christmas rush. (Credit: Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

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SOUTH AUSTRALIA, Australia (CBSDC) – Researchers at the University of Adelaide in Australia have found another purpose for mistletoe – apart from helping potential suitors steal kisses around the holidays.

Mistletoe could also be used to help the effectiveness of chemotherapy, or could even act as an alternative to chemotherapy for treatment of colon cancer, according to Newswise.

The American Institute for Cancer Research in Washington, D.C. noted on its official website that colorectal cancers are preventable – as many as 45 percent of occurrences could be curbed with dietary and habit modifications.

Despite that fact, the news of a potential new cure could all the same come as a relief to many at-risk American patients of both genders, as according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, colon cancer is the second leading type of cancer that affects men and women in the United States.

Mistletoe’s potential alternate use was reportedly discovered by student Zahra Lotfollahi, who completed a research project comparing three different types of mistletoe extract to chemotherapy on colon cancer cells. She additionally compared the impact of mistletoe extract and chemotherapy on healthy cells, the news website learned.

Lotfollahi found that one type of mistletoe extract known as Fraxini was not only highly effective in combating colon cancer cells, but was also gentler on healthy cells than chemotherapy.

“Of the three extracts tested, and compared with chemotherapy, Fraxini was the only one that showed a reduced impact on healthy intestinal cells,” she was quoted as saying. “This is an important result because we know that chemotherapy is effective as killing healthy cells as well as cancer cells.”

She noted that the mistletoe chemical could come with its own set of negative side effects, including ulcers in the mouth and hair loss.

Professor Gordon Howarth, who teaches at the University of Adelaide and supervised Lotfollahi’s research, said that more work needs to be done to find out the true potential of Fraxini.

He told Newswise, “This is just the first important step in what we hope will lead to further research, and eventually clinical trials, of mistletoe extract in Australia.”

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