Research on maca is positive for cancer patients, as it contains certain compounds that protect and fight cancer cells. Maca has been used for thousands of years and has been an integral element of commerce and local diet, of the people living in the high Andes region.
Maca has also played the vital role of a medicinal supplement for the inhabitants of the Peruvian highlands.
Capable of growing only in the harshest, icy cold conditions of elevations over 14,000 feet, this brassicaceae family member has gained new recognition because of its potential anti-carcinogenic properties.
Maca comes in a variety of red, yellow and black colors, and according to a 2009 study in which researchers studied the impact of the various types of maca on benign prostatic hyperplasia (enlarged prostate), it was found that red maca produced a prostate-shrinking effect in rats.
Yellow and black maca had little effect (1).
This adds to the already known discoveries about red fruits and vegetables – that they hold anti-carcinogenic properties, which should not be ignored, whether you have a form of cancer, or are high risk of developing the most destructive of diseases.
In fact, anyone should take away a positive note about this, because it could save their life.
Maca houses a category of compounds known as glucosinolates, which are in higher quantities than all other members of the brassicaceae family.
Its various members like cabbage, cauliflower, watercress and broccoli are all promoted for their anti-cancerous properties.
Studies and Research on Maca’s Effects on Cancer
The results of a study published in the July 2012 issue of the ‘Journal of Complementary and Integrative Medicine’, supports this understanding of the cancer preventing effects of maca.
Myrosinase is a glucosinolate that is responsible for inhibiting colon cancer cells according to an Egyptian study’s findings published in May 2012 issue of ‘Phytotherapy Research’.
In another publication, in 2012 March issue of ‘Fitoterapia, it was found that Isothiocyanate (read about it here, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isothiocyanate), another type of glucosinolate that is found in cruciferous vegetables and maca might also provide protection against leukemia.
Isothiocyanate is also known to inhibit breast, stomach and liver cancer in rats.
In other research, The University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Professor Shivendra Singh has shown that isothiocyanate’s from plants are exceptionally efficient in suppressing prostate cancer cells – even when consumed in cruciferous vegetables such as watercress and maca.
Watercress is another close relative of maca, both belonging to the genus Lepidium family.
While the benefits of maca for cancer have been demonstrated, what is not known are the mechanisms through which these edible plants aid in fighting cancer.
Currently, Androgen Deprivation Therapy (ADT) is the most customary form of treatment for prostate cancer (2).
But, ADT has a significant side effect.
It reduces the size of the prostate, which leads to severe reductions in libido (sexual desire). A recent study used a combination of ADT and a diet saturated with maca, which was given to prostate cancer patients.
Almost no decrease in sexual energy was detected.
Additionally it was discovered that there was no noteworthy change in the Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) levels, demonstrating that maca consumption did not interfere with the standard cancer therapy (3).
Maca works well as a preventative therapy against hormonally linked cancers, like prostate or breast cancer.
Since our bodies undergo a natural change as we age, producing lesser amounts of some necessary substances and hormones, maca can restore the hormone balance.
It works to cut down the variations in hormone levels in the body and improves their efficiency, thus creating an environment in which cancers cannot spread or develop.