Cancer of the ovaries is a devastating diagnosis. Seldom presenting more than vague symptoms before it has spread to other organs, ovarian cancer is among the most deadly forms of cancer for women. Juicing, however, has real application in supporting recovery from this deadly disease. But there is only one juice that really helps.
Putting Ovarian Cancer to Rest
Dr. Russell Reiter is a professor of internal medicine at the University of Texas at San Antonio Health Sciences Center. For nearly 50 years, he has been studying the relationship of the hormone melatonin to women’s health, specifically in relation to ovarian cancer.
Melatonin is best known as the hormone that enables sleep. The brain makes melatonin through a series of steps that begin with the amino acid tryptophan. It’s necessary to consume foods that contain tryptophan such as egg white, nuts, beans, seeds, or meat. It’s also necessary to have the right combination of other amino acids and glucose in the bloodstream for tryptophan to pass through the blood-brain barrier into the brain.
Once the brain receives tryptophan it first uses it to make serotonin. Then if there is enough serotonin available in the gaps between neurons, the brain uses serotonin to make melatonin.
Melatonin induces sleep. Our brains are hardwired so that they don’t make melatonin while it is still day outside, or it appears to be day outside. Any blue light, even the blue light coming from a night light, can stop the production of melatonin. And even the tiny amount of blue light that can be detected from a night light with the eyelids closed will stop the production of melatonin. Sleep may still be possible, but it comes much more slowly.
Melatonin, Dr. Reiter has discovered, isn’t just a sleep-inducing hormone. It’s also a powerful antioxidant. It seems to accelerate the process of apoptosis in ovarian cancer cells so they are less likely to multiply. And it also makes ovarian cancer cells more sensitive to certain kinds of chemotherapy.
The relationship between melatonin and the risk of ovarian cancer isn’t just coincidental. A study conducted by the Channing Laboratory at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston found that women who do shift work, and who have to sleep during the day, are up to 28% to develop ovarian cancer during their first 20 years on the job. Dr. Reiter discovered that women who do not sleep in total darkness were more likely to develop ovarian cancer. Doctors are currently experimenting with darkness as a way of treating ovarian cancer.
It would seem very simple, if you are an American, to eliminate this source of cancer risk. Just take a pill or two of melatonin every night. But if you live in the European Union, you may not be able to find melatonin on the store shelf. You need a natural source of melatonin.
Melatonin in Montmorency Cherries
Dr. Reiter discovered that Montmorency cherries, and especially Montmorency cherry juice, contain enough naturally occurring melatonin to compensate for lack of melatonin in women who do shift work. Actually, both sweet and tart cherries of nearly all varieties contain melatonin, although Montmorency cherries contain more.
There is no exact protocol for preventing or supporting the recovery from ovarian cancer with cherry juice. It’s just known to be helpful. A glass before bed is probably a good idea. It won’t interfere with any other treatments, it won’t “knock you out” but it will enable sleep, and it’s not terribly expensive. You could juice your own cherries, or use bottled juice. Unlike some other fruits, cherries are usually grown with a minimum of pesticides and fungicides so organic cherry juice is not absolutely essential.
One Other Supportive Treatment for Ovarian Cancer
California-based expert in women’s nutrition Dr. Nan Fuchs sometimes offers women who have ovarian cancer treatment with a fruit-derived product known as modified citrus pectin, or MCP. Pectin is the complex carbohydrate in all kinds of fruit that makes their juices sticky. Pectin is concentrated in the process of making jam or jelly to hold juice inside.
Tiny amounts of pectin, either from fruit you eat or from supplements like MCP, actually get into your bloodstream. They naturally stick to membranes, such as the ovaries, and they can trap cancer cells without killing them. The way MCP has its greatest effect on ovarian cancer, however, is by stimulating the immune system.
For ovarian cancer cells to establish a tumor elsewhere in the body, they have to generate a kind of protein known as a galactin-3 agonist. This protein “sticks” to the galactose sugar on the outside of cells in the cancer’s target tissue. It enables the cancer cell to begin to grow and multiply into a new tumor.
MCP enters the body through the same kind of “sticking power” as an ovarian cancer cell. Because a single capsule of MCP contains billions of times more “stickiness” than a cancer cell, the immune system generates antibodies to keep MCP from sticking to the lining of the small intestine and being absorbed. The MCP in a supplement then passes harmlessly away with bowel movement.
The white blood cells that make the antibody, however, now also have “learned” how to stop the attachment of ovarian cancer cells to secondary tissues. The cancer cells drift in the bloodstream until they encounter white blood cells that can easily destroy them—something that is a lot harder to do when they have hidden themselves inside a bone or inside lung tissue.
Dr. Fuchs and another California physician named Dr. Isaac Eliaz report that women who have ovarian cancer usually get better when they take MCP. The supplement won’t work if the immune system has been destroyed by radiation or chemotherapy, but it can work while women are waiting for therapy. Along with regular consumption of cherry juice, MCP offers real—although not complete—support for recovery from the disease.