A recent study examined the effects of certain compounds in peanuts on the spread of cancer. The results show serious consequences for most people metastatic cancer.
Researchers found that certain proteins in peanuts called peanut agglutinin (PNA), can fuel the spread of tumors. PNA is a type of lectin, proteins that stick to different molecules of carbohydrates and the molecules that PNA targets are present in most human cancer cells.
Previous studies have shown that PNA is highly resistant to cooking and digestion and rapidly enters the human blood circulation after peanut ingestion. Then it binds to cancer cells that have spread to the blood, helping them to form clusters and to stick to the lining of blood vessels.
As metastasis accounts for the majority of cancer-associated fatality, regular consumption of peanuts by cancer patients would therefore be expected to have an adverse effect on cancer survival.
Lectins are common in many foods and concentrate in seeds including legumes, nuts and grains. They are usually destroyed by methods of food preparation.
Although the research is limited, very few other foods have the exact type of lectins in peanuts. However, researchers believed that more work needs to be done to find out if lectins from other foods can get into the bloodstream intact and then bind to the types of carbohydrates that are common in cancer cells like peanut lectins.
The journal Carcinogenesis recently published an abstract of the new study and will soon be publishing the full study.
All of the study’s work was done in cell cultures and animal models and focused on cancer cells that originate in the epithelial tissues that cover organs and line body cavities. Epithelial cancers account for 85-90% of human cancers.
More studies will be needed to rest if peanut agglutinin will affect metastasis in cancer that is not of epithelial origin.