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Does Chocolate Fight Breast Cancer?

An interesting study by Georgetown University researchers has uncovered more evidence chocolate -- in its purer forms -- can be beneficial to your health to the extent that it may be used one day to treat cancer. Scientists have discovered pentamer (pentameric procyanidin), a natural ingredient found in cocoa, deactivated proteins that work together to continually divide cancer cells and create new ones. Although this discovery hasn't pushed scientists to encourage cancer patients (or those at risk) to start eating chocolate, their results are certainly intriguing.

Researchers treated a variety of breast cancer cells with a purified preparation of pentamer on a variety of breast cancer cells, and compared how they reacted in relation to normal breast cells. During the process, they used a variety of tests to find and identify proteins that were deactivated in the cancer cells.

What they found: Two well known tumor suppressor genes as well as two other proteins known to be involved in regulating the cell cycle (the progression of a cell from a state of being quiet into division and growth). Specifically, breast cancer cells stopped dividing when treated with pentamer and all four proteins were deactivated. Additionally, a pattern of several regulatory proteins are jointly deactivated, probably greatly enhancing the inhibitory effect compared to targeting any one of the proteins singly, Georgetown scientists said.

At this point, researchers don't know if pentamer trips some sort of biological master switch that deactivates these proteins simultaneously, stopping the cell cycle, or whether it exerts multiple independent effects on diverse cellular processes, but that will be the subject of future studies.

One caveat: This research is funded by MARS Inc. (yes, that privately held $14 billion company built on selling sugary candies like M&Ms and Milky Way candy bars). That said, there is merit to this research, as it shows consuming foods in their purest forms can be beneficial to your health.

This was certainly true in a recent study that found theobromine, a cocoa derivative, was found to be nearly a third more effective than codeine -- currently known as "the best" cough medicine.

The quick rule of thumb regarding eating chocolate, if you feel you must:

  • If you eat chocolate, only eat dark chocolate.
  • Eat it only if you're healthy.
  • Consume it in moderation.

And lastly, one surefire way to indulge in a little chocolate that is good for you is to try our new energy bar - the CocoaCassava Bar. Specially formulated by myself and a team of nutritional experts, CocoaCassava is a nutritional powerhouse loaded with a perfect balance of healthy fats, protein and fiber that will truly nourish your body rather than contribute to disease (like so many of the unhealthy bars on the market today do) ... Plus, it really tastes delicious!

Georgetown University Medical Center April 14, 2005 Free Full-Text Study

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