RoBarr and Breast Cancer Prevention?
In the United States, breast cancer is the most prevalent in cancer incidence and the second leading cause of death in women. In 2012, there were an estimated 226,870 new cases of and 39,510 cancer-related deaths from breast cancer. Chemoprevention using phytochemicals has received considerable attention as an effective and promising approach for breast cancer prevention. 1 This could apply to other cancers also prevalent in the U.S.
Protocatechualdehyde (PCA) is a natural polyphenol compound found in barley, green Cavendish bananas, and grapevine leaves. PCA shows anti-cancer activities in breast, leukemia, and colorectal cancer cells.2 Several studies of barley in various forms have been conducted. Barley tea (RoBarr is a barley tea) contains the natural pholyphenol compound PCA.
How does PCA work?
PCA possesses antiproliferative and pro-apoptotic properties in human cancer cells.3 Antiproliferative means a substance used to prevent or retard the spread of cells, especially malignant cells into surrounding tissues. Pro-apoptotic means it promotes or causes apoptosis or a cleavage of a set of proteins, resulting in disassembly of the cell. A study was performed to reveal the molecular mechanism by which PCA stimulates cell growth arrest and apoptosis in human breast cancer cells. PCA repressed cell proliferation and induced apoptosis in dose-dependent manner of cancer cells. PCA suppressed the expression of proto-oncogene (like beta-catenin and cyclin D1) that are present and overexpressed in many types of cancers and leads to cancer development. PCA treatment decreased the half-life of cell production, of both types during the study.3 PCA inhibits cell growth and increases apoptosis of breast cancer cells by downregulating two proto-oncogene (beta-catenin and cyclin D1) via multiple mechanisms. 1
There are many molecular level factors that allow or prevent the growth of breast cancer cells. PCA activates two nuclear transcription factors that stimulate proteosomal degradation of beta-catenin, which inhibits proliferation and induces apoptosis(killing of cell) in human breast cancer cells.1
One study fed young barley to female rats that had breast cancer. Barley prevented cancer cell cycle progression and the results were an antitumor effect from the mixture of phytochemicals present in young barley. 4
An extensive study was conducted in China. They compared diet in various regions of the country, the prevalence of cancer, and the changes in diet that may affect the incidence of cancer in those regions. Natural products are very popular to combat various physiological threats. Vegetables, fruits, spices, herbs and beverages have opened up a new avenue for the role of phytochemicals in the prevention of human diseases like cancer. Functional foods are natural bioactive products with food value and promising cancer prevention and therapy. Since cancer is becoming the most important public health burden in the world, new treatments are being sought. Beta glucans from the cell walls of barley, oats, mushrooms, yeast, seaweeds, algae and bacteria are being tested for new therapeutic strategies against cancer. 5
Barley is the most important crop among functional foods. Of the small grains tested, the anticancer activities in barley were higher than rice, oats, maize, wheat germ oil, or rye. Green barley extract induced antiproliferative and proapoptotic signals with leukemia and lymphoma cells. Bioactive compounds in barley may reduce the risk of diabetic agents and colon cancer. PCA suppressed cell growth and induced apoptosis of breast cancer cells, and lunasin present in barley has been observed to prevent skin cancer. There was a remarkably high reduction of tumorigenesis and induction of apoptosis in the liver in mice. Germinated barley foodstuff significantly increased the production of a tumor suppressor gene.5
In China, the provinces with the lowest cancer mortality rates had the largest production and consumption rates for barley and tea and other anticancer crops such as brown rice, buckwheat, walnuts, mushrooms, Knojak, etc. The highest cancer mortality was associated with those areas who consumed less barley. Barley beta-glucan is a radioprotective agent, and it can enhance radioprotection in the human hepatoma cell line. Polyphenols in barley possess many other anti-carcinogenic activities, and may be related to a reduced risk of breast cancer and colon cancer.5
In an article in the International journal of Oncology, April 2014 issue, a study conducted with the beta-D-glucan purified from barley was designed to examine the activity in breast cancer cells. The study data indicates that beta-D-glucan regulates breast cancer-relevant gene expression and may be useful for inhibiting endocrine-resistant breast cancer cell proliferation.6
All this information was gleaned from the above articles. Pubmed is the publication of the American Medical Association. From this, it can be deduced that drinking barley tea may be a deterrent to cancer for many individuals. My mom always said an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Drinking a healthy barley tea may not show immediate results, but it might improve your long term health.