|Graviola, also known as soursop|
NEW INTEREST IN GRAVIOLA
There is new interest in Graviola. One surprising finding in James and Dorothy Morrés’ groundbreaking book, ECTO-NOX Proteins: Growth, Cancer and Aging, is that a class of compounds known as Acetogenins are also ENOX2- inhibitors. ENOX2 is a protein found on the surface of almost all cancer cells. Acetogenins, in turn, are ingredients or byproducts of a plant family known scientifically as Annonaceae. These are mainly tropical plants found mainly in the rain forests of South America and Southeast Asia. The best-known of these is graviola, also known as soursop. There are over 130 of these Acetogenin compounds (Mangal 2015). Scientists consider Annonaceae to be “chemically one of the least investigated family” of plants (ibid.). But they deserve greater attention and are now being investigated as possible anticancer agents.
This raises the question of whether graviola is too toxic to use, and, if it is used, how great is the risk to cancer patients? A particular concern is the presence of a neurotoxin, annonacin, in the leaves.
For that reason, I would say that cancer patients should stay away from graviola, until further research shows that it is both effective at inhibiting ENOX2 in humans and that there is a safe level of consumption that will not cause or contribute to Parkinson’s disease.
Another question is whether a related North American plant, pawpaw (Asimina triloba) might be a safe substitute for graviola. Otherwise known as the “Indiana banana,” this tree produces a surprisingly delicious tropical-tasting fruit, even in the Eastern parts of the United States. (I recently recovered one from a tree growing on a local university campus: it was surprisingly delicious.) The topic of pawpaw and cancer deserves an article of its own. But the aforementioned Dr. Jerry McLaughlin has written that pawpaw contains “promising new antitumor…agents that are found only in the plant family Annonaceae” (Alali 1998). So there is promise in pawpaw.
Alali FQ, Liu XX, McLaughlin JL. Annonaceous acetogenins: recent progress. J Nat Prod. 1999;62(3):504-540. doi:10.1021/np980406d.
Lannuzel A, Höglinger GU, Champy P, Michel PP, Hirsch EC, Ruberg M. Is atypical parkinsonism in the Caribbean caused by the consumption of Annonacae? J Neural Transm Suppl. 2006;(70):153-157.
Morré DJ and Morré D. ECTO-NOX PROTEINS: GROWTH, CANCER AND AGING. New York: Springer, 2013. (List price of $267 but available from the Harvey H. and Donna M. Morré Foundation for Cancer Research, 1112 Cherry Lane, West Lafayette, IN 47906 by enclosing a check for a donation of $100 made out to the Foundation and also by providing a mailing address.)
Yang C, Gundala SR, Mukkavilli R, Vangala S, Reid MD, Aneja R. Synergistic interactions among flavonoids and acetogenins in Graviola (Annona muricata) leaves confer protection against prostate cancer. Carcinogenesis. 2015;36(6):656-665. doi:10.1093/carcin/bgv046.