Sniffing This Could STOP Liver Cancer?

By on January 22, 2015
The smell of citrus is a pleasing scent to many people.

Now research from the Ruhr-University Bochum reveals a new reason to sniff it up: It could prevent liver cancer cells from growing.

According to findings published by the university in the journal Archives of Biochemistry and Biophysics, they’ve uncovered that terpenes, a main component of essential oils found in citrus fruits, help inhibit the growth of cancer cells in many ways–such as increasing calcium concentration.

Don’t count on it to cure liver cancer, however.

“Their effect on cellular proliferation has made them promising agents in the prevention or treatment of many types of cancer,” write researchers in the online version of Archives of Biochemistry and Biophysics. “Here, we provide for the first time data on the molecular mechanism evoked by (-)-citronellal in human hepatocellular carcinoma cells. The identified olfactory receptor could serve as a potential therapeutic target for cancer diagnosis and treatment.”

The Study

For most people, they associate the smell of citrus with fruits and a tropical aroma–but for researchers, it signaled something even more important.

Now, researchers wanted to find out if citrus oils could help fight liver cancer.

To do so, researchers first used a cellular model of a liver tumor called hepatocellular carcinoma, a commonly diagnosed tumor. Here they exposed the cells to different types of terpenes, looking at how it affected the cells individually. It didn’t take long for a response: Both citronellal and citronellol, two types of terpenes, caused a sharp increase in calcium concentration.

This was no ordinary finding–this reduced the cells’ ability to grow, acting as a mechanism to prevent cancer from spreading.

“Their [terpenes] effect on cellular proliferation has made them promising agents in the prevention or treatment of many types of cancer,” write researchers. “These results are yet another example for the significance of olfactory receptors outside the nose, and they give rise to hope that new drugs with no severe side effects may be developed for cancer therapy.”

However, if you think sniffing your favorite citrus fruit can help you fight cancer, think again. While the current study does show promise for this type of treatment, chances are this treatment will be used in different ways in the future–such as being injected into individual cells or used in combination with other treatments.

Citrus fruits, however, may contain antioxidants that could reduce your risk of developing liver cancer.

“In recent years, terpenes have become of clinical relevance due to their ability to suppress cancer development,” write researchers.

What You Should Do

While curing liver cancer with a piece of fruit isn’t likely to happen, you still can take advantage. To lower your risk of developing cancer, try adding more citrus fruits to your diet–they carry helpful antioxidants that could help fight changes in your body that cause cancer.

Readers: Do you think fruits could help treat cancer in the future?

Citrus Scent Inhibits Liver
Monoterpene Citronellal Affects Hepatocarcinoma Cell Signaling Via an Olfactory

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