It’s not a secret that sweet potatoes are one of the healthiest vegetables in the world. You can read about some of the health benefits in one of my previous articles titled Sweet Potato on Mars and Food is Medicine The Okinawan Fountain of Youth. Both articles point to the fact that sweet potatoes contain healthy carotenoids that have been proven to reduce the risks of cancer. This makes me wonder if sweet potatoes can reduce the risk of cancer can it also become a treatment? Let us explore this question by first analyzing the top two current and most effective treatment options for one of the most common cancers, prostate cancer.
1. Prostectomy- One of the most common treatments for prostate cancer is a prostectomy, which is a surgical procedure that removes the prostate gland and some of the surrounding tissues. With most surgeries there are some drawbacks. Depending on the patients physical health it can be a risky operation. Recent data points to a prostectomy as a viable option to treating most forms of prostate cancer. 75% of patients have made a full cancer free recover with no progression of the cancer for 10 years.
2. Radiation- Radiation therapy can be both a effective and detrimental treatment to prostate cancer patients. It is the most common treatment as over two thirds of patients will undergo some sort of radiation therapy. In the treatment, radioactive material is used to kill cancerous cells in specific or general area of the body. The problem is radiation cannot decipher between a healthy cell and a cancerous cell, so many times patients experience aggressive side effects. Radiation can be effective, but the side effects can be overwhelming for weaker of patients.
Researchers are hard at work to find better treatments and ways to decrease the risks of cancer. Instead of looking to synthetic solutions I suggest consulting Mother Nature. In fact, over 7,000 medicines are derived directly from plants. A lot of these medicines come from the Amazon, but a cancer treatment could be in our own backyard and on our plates. In a 2011 study scientists found that sweet potato green extract may have cancer fighting properties. Sweet potato green extract is used expansively in Asian and African medicine and can be produced by soaking the greens in an alcohol for extended period of time. The extract contains all of the vitamins and minerals that the potato itself contains in concentrated form, including polyphenol. Polyphenol’s are a type of antioxidant that has been proven to decrease the signs of aging and reduce the risk of certain illnesses, including cancer. In an experiment where sweet potato green extract was given orally to mice infected with prostate cancer, tumor growth was ‘remarkably inhibited’. Overall, cancer cell growth was decreased by 69%. Best of all the treatment had no toxicity side effects and is much more prevalent and easier to produce than any other treatment including radiation. The full scientific report can be read here. I am not saying that sweet potatoes could cure cancer, but it has been proven to reduce cancer cell growth, which makes me wonder “Why are we not funding this?”.