June 30, 2009

Purple sweet potato may fight cancer

A U.S. researcher says a specially cultivated purple sweet potato may help fight cancer.

Soyoung Lim of Kansas State University in Manhattan in Kansas says the Kansas-developed sweet potato has purple flesh high in anthocyanin -- a flavanoid responsible for red/blue pigment that may have an anti-cancer effect.

Sometimes we can find purple sweet potatoes in the grocery store, but they don't have this purple color on the skin and inside, Lim said in a statement.

Lim extracted and compared pigments from three kinds of sweet potatoes. The Kansas potato had significantly higher anthocyanin contents compared to the others. The analysis also found two derivatives of anthocyanin were dominant -- cyanidin and peonidin -- which Lim used to treat human colon cancer cells.

Cyanidin and peonidin showed significant cell growth inhibition for the cancer cells, but no significant changes in the cell cycle, Lim says.

Lim presented the findings at the Experimental Biology Meeting held in New Orleans.