A cup of camomile tea could help ward off cancer, researchers say.
The tea contains a chemical, apigenin, which takes away some of the ‘superpowers’ of cancer cells.
Scientists at Ohio State University found apigenin can block the ability of breast cancer cells to live far longer than normal cells, halting their spread and making them more sensitive to drug therapy.
Camomile tea, parsley and celery are the most abundant sources of apigenin but it is also found in many fruit and vegetables common in a Mediterranean diet.
The chemical, which has also been shown to act as an anti-inflammatory, works in a way that suggests other nutrients could have similar effects in warding off cancer.
It helps proteins correct the abnormalities in RNA – molecules carrying genetic information – that are responsible for about 80 per cent of cancers.
Molecular geneticist Professor Andrea Doseff, of Ohio State University, said: ‘We know we need to eat healthfully, but in most cases we do not know the actual mechanistic reasons for why we need to do that.
‘We see here the beneficial effect on health is attributed to this dietary nutrient affecting many proteins.
‘In its relationship with a set of specific proteins, apigenin re-establishes the normal profile in cancer cells. We think this can have great value clinically as a potential cancer-prevention strategy.’
Cancer cells thrive by inhibiting a process that would cause them to die on a regular cycle subject to strict programming.
The researchers found apigenin could stop breast cancer cells from inhibiting their own death.