Soursop tea may help prevent some forms of cancer, according to a study published in the January 2011 issue of the journal "Pharmacognosy." In the study, soursop roots were tested against tissue cultures of human lung cancer, leukemia, cervical cancer and breast cancer. Results showed effectiveness against all forms of cancer tested. Researchers attributed the anti-cancer effects of soursop to high concentrations of alkaloid compounds and acetogenins -- a family of compounds with antibiotic, antifungal and antiparasitic effects. The results of this study show promise for the use of soursop as a cancer preventive.
Throat and Lung Cancer
Soursop was included in a list of plants with significant anti-cancer properties in a Brazilian study published in the November 2010 issue of the journal "Molecules." The study evaluated anti-cancer potential, antioxidant ability and content of tannins -- bitter compounds with some medicinal value -- of 14 Brazilian medicinal plants. Soursop was not found to be high in antioxidants or tannins, but it showed effectiveness against throat cancer and lung cancer. Other plants with anti-cancer potential included Lantana camara, Handroanthus impetiginosus and Mentzelia aspera.
Method of Activity
A study published in the August 2009 issue of the journal "Phytotherapy Research" found that acetogenin compounds in soursop prevent cancer by inhibiting energy production in cancer cells. In the laboratory animal study, soursop acetogenin extract showed anticancer properties similar to the cancer chemotherapy drug doxorubicin. One extract tested in the study was effective against a strain of human cervical cancer cells.
Colon cancer may respond well to treatment with soursop bush tea, according to researchers at Laboratorio de Química Orgánica, Escuela Nacional de Ciencias Biológicas, Instituto Politécnico Nacional, México. The tissue culture and laboratory animal study determined that soursop acetogenin extract exerted toxic effects on human colon cancer cells. The study was published in the December 2008 issue of the journal "Biological and Pharmaceutical Bulletin."
Researchers at the Graduate Institute of Natural Products, Kaohsiung Medical University, Taiwan, reported the discovery of two new acetogenin compounds from soursop in a study published in the November 2004 issue of the "Journal of Natural Products." The new compounds showed moderate effectiveness against human ovarian cancer in a tissue culture experiment.