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Soursop: Cancer Cure or Internet Hoax?

The internet is abuzz with stories claiming that soursop fruits can cure some kinds of cancer, but is it true?  The prospects of delicious fruits curing a terminal disease seems too good to be true, and most responses to the idea are skeptical.  The claim is recent and scientists are just beginning to exploring the potential of this fruit so like any new information, people have the right to be wary.  

For those are unfamiliar with soursop, it is a tropical tree fruit about the size of a grapefruit which grows in the forests of southeast Asia, South America and Africa.  It is also known as a guanabana, cherimoya, paw paw, and custard apple. It is sweet with a flavor similar to bubble gum and the texture is like mousse.  The plant compound that scientists are interested in is called annonaceous acetogenis

Laboratory studies using petrie cultures have found that soursop extracts can kill certain types of breast and liver cancer cells that are resistant to particular kinds of chemotherapy.  As of yet, the extract has not been tested on humans so it remains a mystery if it will actually work.  Because the internet is full of information and people are eager to get their hands on the latest potential miracles, several companies are producing soursop capsules and marketing them as a cancer cure, even though it has not yet been proven.  

In parts of Africa and South America, soursop is used to treat viruses, infections, depression, and parasites.  It has been proven that it does help relieve some of the symptoms.  Other parts of the tree such as the leaves, bark, roots as well as the fruit are often used in natural medicines.  

Scientists are only just beginning to investigate soursop but they are suspecting some negative affects as well as the positive. When taken in large amounts there is a potential for nerve damage and symptoms similar to Parkinson's disease.  In the Caribbean, amongst people who have eaten a lot of the fruit there is proof of nerve damage and in some cases hallucinations.  These are extreme cases, though, and having a soursop juice or eating the fruit will not cause harm.  

Before taking soursop pills or any natural medicine, talk to your doctor first and see if it is right for you. 

 

 

Image from flickr.com

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