Lemons are useful for many things as well as cooking and slicing into drinks. They have natural health giving properties (as do other citrus fruits) and have been previously been cited as being helpful in digestion, weight loss and more importantly as this new study shows they may also be helpful in colon, liver and pancreatic cancers as well as leukaemia.
A new study has shown for the first time how limonoids, the natural compounds present in lemons and other citrus fruit, impede breast cancer cell growth which makes adding them to your daily diet a clear priority for breast cancer prevention and supports past studies which showed fruit consumption may lower breast cancer risk.
Why the answer is a lemon
It is their limonoids content that has shown this preventive effect and showed their ability to decrease the growth/viability of cancer cells by as much as 44 percent. Each limonoid was also tested for its ability to induce programmed cell death of the cancer cells and one of the most potent was found to be limonin glucoside – which is by far the most abundant limonoid in citrus juices.
The limonoids were also tested for their ability to inhibit aromatase, which is key in limiting the estrogen that Estrogen Receptor cells can use for growth.
A lemon a day?
It need not only be lemons either: a recent American study did show that women consuming about 75 grams daily of grapefruit (fruit or juice) saw a 22 percent reduction in breast cancer risk if they had never used hormone replacement therapy. However if you are on statins then grapefruit juice or fruit is a contraindication so choose lemon or oranges instead. Preventing breast cancer is not the only reason to consume lemons: the juice of half a lemon in warm water first thing in the morning helps a sluggish digestive system, aids slimming and leads to a brighter complexion.
If you only ever use lemons in a gin and tonic, then think bigger, and wider. A recent European study showed that consuming four or more 150-gram portions per week of citrus fruit decreased the risks of throat cancer by 58 percent, oral cancer by 53 percent, stomach cancer by 31 percent, and colorectal cancer by 18 percent.
Lemons are not the only fruit
While the limonoids in the latest study are based on lemons, they are also found in the peel, pulp and juice of all citrus fruits. Citrus juices contain approximately 90 to 300 mg per liter of limonoid glucosides (orange juice: 300 mg/l, grapefruit juice: 200 mg/l, lemon or lime juice: 90 mg/l). Citrus pulp and peel contain up to 500mg/kg of limonoids, so if you freshly squeeze your juice, be sure to include as much pulp as possible. Citrus seeds can contain up to two percent by weight of limonoids, with grapefruit seeds being the richest source.
Your breast cancer protection plan
Taken together, these recent studies suggest that women wanting to reduce breast cancer risk should consume at least 75 grams daily of citrus fruit or juice as part of a well-balanced, healthy lifestyle, and that further benefit may be obtained by concentrating on liminoid-rich orange and grapefruit as whole fruit, or pulp-rich juices. Grapefruit seed extract is also available as a supplement and may be worth considering if you have a high family risk.
The protective role of progesterone in preventing the proliferation of oestrogen as it balances out the excess oestrogen and limits its damaging effects is well established. Having good hormone balance is essential for overall health and particularly for women with a family history of breast cancer it may well make all the difference.
These articles can help to understand the role that excess oestrogen (oestrogen dominance) plays in breast cancer when not adequately balanced by progesterone.