Chocolate is often regarded as a sexy food for lovers. But recent studies have found that eating chocolate could be a powerful weapon in the fight against cancer, according to researchers in different countries such as United States, Belgium and Ghana. But the health benefits are obtained mostly from the raw cocoa and dark chocolate. The transformation of the bean, namely the extraction of the bitter seed, drying, adding sugar or milk, results in heavy loss of beneficial elements such as polyphenols.
Chocolate and Cancer Prevention
Cocoa is known for its abundance of polyphenols hence its high antioxidant capacity. It would be one of the foods richest in flavonoids, particularly catechin and epicatechin. One square of dark chocolate contains twice more polyphenols than a glass of red wine and almost as much as a cup of green tea extensively infused.
Proanthocyanidins, powerful antioxidants found in cocoa that remove harmful free oxygen radicals from cells, could help prevent cancer by acting on many events involved in cancerous cells development and progression. Laboratory studies on chocolate and cancer prevention have also demonstrated their ability to delay the development of some terminal cancers, called incurable by the conventional medicine, including breast cancer, lung cancer, and bowel cancer, by countering cancerous cell growth and angiogenesis.
Dark Chocolate and Cancer Treatment
Raw Cacao Enhances the Therapeutic Effects of Chemotherapy. Raw cocoa fights against many types of cancer, many studies have proven. Some of these studies have been performed in combination with chemotherapy and it appears that raw cocoa enhances the therapeutic effects of chemotherapy. Raw cocoa is primarily tested on breast cancer, prostate cancer, and colon cancer. It works amazingly in these three cancers.
The active substances in cocoa are particularly proanthocyanidins; which are polyphenols that are probably the strongest vegetable-source antioxidant. In addition, it contains polyphenols and serotonin.
Proanthocyanidins – There are plenty of proanthocyanidins in cocoa beans. These substances are among the strongest antioxidants. In general, antioxidants fight free radicals that can cause DNA damage. This damage can lead to inflammatory processes. Their role in helping the body fight cancer is extremely important considering cancer is the result of chronic inflammation at the cellular level or low-grade inflammation. When study dark chocolate and breast cancer, the scientists have discovered that breast cancer cells are highly sensitive to the antioxidant effect of cocoa beans. Proanthocyanidins penetrate within the cancerous cells; after which, they disturb their metabolism, thus preventing them from reproducing. But it is more effective to use whole cocoa powder or dark chocolate which as no sugar, milk or any other ingredients.
Polyphenols – Cocoa trees produce pods whose seeds are used to make chocolate or cocoa powder. In the cocoa beans contained the polyphenols. There are so many polyphenols in them that some scientists called raw dark chocolate ‘natural chemotherapy”. These flavonoids are known for their properties to scavenge free radicals in human body. The same scientists are convinced that cocoa beans are also powerful cancer prevention. The only problem is the fact these free radicals cannot be analyzed without applying synthetic chemotherapy, which makes it difficult to conclude if the beans themselves can be used as anticancer drug.
Serotonin – Cocoa beans contain serotonin, the hormone of happiness. When someone is depressed or stressed, it has less of this hormone in the body. Therefore, eating cocoa powder or dark chocolate can increase the serotonin levels in the body, which can contribute to the treatment of stress, depression, anxiety, and insomnia, by making the individual feeling happy and relaxed. Serotonin is also good source of cellular energy; therefore, it helps in the resistance to disease. In short, regular consumption of whole cocoa helps the immune system to stay or become stronger.
Cocoa as an Anti Cancer Treatment
In 2006 a group of French researchers studied the relation of cocoa powder and prostate cancer. They made a cocoa preparation to have a standard amount. This does not mean that ordinary cocoa bean would not work, on the contrary. They analyzed only the effect of cocoa on prostate cancer cells and found that the growth of the cancerous cells was being stopped or greatly delayed when the cocoa administered as medicine.
In 2013, an investigation conducted by a group of Spanish scientists on the relation between chocolate and bowel cancer, based on the scientific fact that intestinal infections are directly related to the development of cancer in the body. They examined whether polyphenols in cocoa beans may be useful in the fight against cancerous tumors in the intestines. They ingested rats with colon cancer cells. They divided them in two groups. One group was treated conventional, and the others were treated with processed cocoa beans. The rats that were fed with cocoa made much faster recovery from their cancerous tumor. The researchers concluded that cocoa beans are promising dietary supplement in the fight against cancer, which confirm dark chocolate can be used to fight bowel cancer
Cocoa In Combination with Tamoxifen In Breast Cancer Treatment
Another Spanish research, which was published in 2012, shows that cocoa polyphenols penetrate breast tumors and damage the DNA of the cancer cells. The researchers found that cocoa causes breast cancer cells to die. Amazing, it was found the therapeutic effects of cocoa and tamoxifen work more effectively together. It was also found that not only tamoxifen works even better when taken together with the cocoa but the combination reduces the drug side effects as well. The researchers conclude that cocoa is a good candidate for therapeutic combination with tamoxifen.
Dark Chocolate and Cancer Prevention
In 2013, a group of scientists from San Diego State University examined the effect of both cocoa and dark chocolate in rat models. Dark chocolate usually has some sugar and milk chocolate; cancer cells feed on sugar. Yet the researchers found that the tumors in rats were considerably reduced when they eat dark chocolate. The effects of whole cocoa powder are even more amazing. They concluded that chocolate can be used as a cancer prevention agent.
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