Beets (or beetroot) are one of the latest foods to be labeled a superfood. As such, this earthly and sweet-tasting vegetable arrives with a plethora of supposed health benefits that will even leave the doubters of beetroot’s efficacy in awe.
However, did you know that beets are actually believed to possess anti-cancer properties? That’s right, Beta Vulgaris has been linked to specific characteristics that have the potential to make it a useful tool for battling cancer.
In this post, we’re going to delve into the matter in detail by taking a look scientific data and whether or not it supports the theory that beetroot can be used against cancer.
So what does science say about beetroot consumption and cancer prevention?
According to a study courtesy of the Anti-Cancer Agents in Medicinal Chemistry, beetroot has a cytotoxic impact on specific cancer cell lines (although dose-dependent) that were examined throughout the duration of the research.
More specifically, scientists found that beetroot extract has the potential to lower the growth rate of particular cancer cells related to prostate cancer (PC3). Quite astonishingly, the growth rate of tumor cells was reduced by almost 10% – from 3.7% to 12.5% in just four days!
Even though it’s stated that Doxorubicin (a chemotherapy drug used against cancer) is superior to beetroot regarding efficiency, the fact that it’s considered a robust method for halting the progress of cancer cells is a good enough reason to be euphoric about our favorite red, earthly friends – beets.
Last but not least, the same study points to the fact that earlier animal studies suggest that the red beetroot extract slow the growth of multi-organ tumors.
The hepatoprotective and anticarcinogenic effects of beetroot
Further scientific data indicates that Betanin (an element of beetroot) activates specific transcription factors such as the Nrf2 through complex processes. The good news is that Nrf2 protects against oxidative disruption caused by inflammation.
The December 2013 issue of the British Journal of Nutrition focuses on how beetroot and its high Betanin content might have useful anticarcinogenic (anti-cancer) properties.
What researchers found is that the Betanin’s interaction with certain mechanisms that offer cellular protection against oxidative stress can be the reason for the alleged hepatoprotective (liver protection) and cancer-fighting properties associated with beetroot.
More evidence that red beetroot has the potential to be an adequate alternative method for treating cancer
Scientists from the journal of Phytotherapy Research examined the cytotoxic effects that beets have on cancer cells. In particular, they analyzed the Betanin and Isobetanin (potent antioxidants) content of beetroot and it affects the growth of cancer.
They utilized an extract from beetroots, tested the cytotoxicity on cancer cells and then evaluated the data. Long story short, their findings were conclusive – this Betanin and Isobetanin mixture (extracted from beetroot) substantially reduced the spreading of cancer cells and their life.
This is genuinely fascinating, but it’s not the only advantage of using beetroots against cancer. Another excellent benefit is that the extract used in the study didn’t have any impact on normal cell lines, therefore pointing at its safety.
And logically, researchers concluded that using a Betanin/Isobetanin mixture may be used as an alternative cancer treatment and even combined with traditional chemotherapy medications.
The dietary nitrates that beetroot is packed with offers additional cancer-fighting benefits
That’s what scientists from the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology found in a study with a particularly catchy title. They even mentioned the fact that nitrates are a vital part of rocket fuel – quite intriguing for a scientific analysis, eh?
Anyway, the study begins by including certain benefits associated with dietary nitrate, most notably providing positive cardiovascular effects on:
- BP (blood pressure)
- Mitochondrial effectiveness
- Endothelial function
That’s because nitrates are vasodilators, meaning they widen the blood vessels and that leads to a decrease in the BP (blood pressure).
Back to the anti-cancer relation now. The same study cites the World Cancer Research Foundation by mentioning that there’s substantial evidence that highlights the cancer-fighting properties of nitrate-rich foods (such as beets) and in particular these forms of cancer:
We’re moving onto a rather intriguing subject now, so make sure to read on!
Beet juice cures cancer in 42 – sounds too good to be true?
That’s what a man from Austria named Rudolf Breuss proposed and he even wrote books related to treating cancer by natural means – e.g. by drinking beet juice.
While this theory still sparks controversy to this day, it’d be wise to consult your physician before attempting to cure cancer with it. Nonetheless, here’s the recipe for this supposedly miraculous juice:
- 55% Beetroot content
- 20% Carrot content
- 20% Celery root content
- 3% Potato content
- 2% Radish content
The whole thing is put into a blender and mixed together. The general recommendations are to consume two of these shakes per day but it shouldn’t be overdone.
You can find claims that this technique has helped thousands of people around the globe (more than 50,000 actually). Nonetheless, the best advice that anyone can give is to always seek professional medical advice before attempting to cure anything on your own, especially something as dangerous and lethal as cancer.
Quite clearly, science backs up beetroots as a potent way of treating cancer by alternative methods. And most of its anti-cancer capabilities can be attributed to its Betanin content.
That’s because it offers powerful antioxidant protection and there are a dozen of studies conducted on the undoubtful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory capabilities of beetroot – if you’d like to read more about that, check my article about beets and their antioxidant potential by clicking here.
Now feel free to leave a comment. I’d love to know if you personally know anyone who’s successfully used beetroot for treating cancer and what your personal opinion about it is.
P.S. This blog post isn’t intended to replace nor substitute professional medical advice.
- Cytotoxic effect of the red beetroot (Beta vulgaris L.) extract compared to doxorubicin (Adriamycin) in the human prostate (PC-3) and breast (MCF-7) cancer cell lines – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21434853
- Betanin, a beetroot component, induces nuclear factor erythroid-2-related factor 2-mediated expression of detoxifying/antioxidant enzymes in human liver cell lines – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23769299
- Betanin-Enriched Red Beetroot (Beta vulgaris L.) Extract Induces Apoptosis and Autophagic Cell Death in MCF-7 Cells – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26463240
- It is rocket science – why dietary nitrate is hard to ‘beet’! Part II: further mechanisms and therapeutic potential of the nitrate-nitrite-NO pathway – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26914827