- Antioxidants in red onions can be effective in fighting cells, finds a new study.
- Ruby Ring onion contains higher amounts of quercetin and anthocyanin, compounds that possess anti-cancer properties.
- Red onions promote an unfavorable environment for cancer cells, and they disrupt communication between the cells, which inhibits growth.
Red onions may be effective in killing cancer cells, finds a new study. A research team tested five types of onion grown in Ontario and discovered that Ruby Ring onion variety has cancer-fighting properties.
Onions are superfoods as they contain one of the highest concentrations of quercetin, a type of flavonoid. The research team claims that onions grown in Ontario have higher concentrations of quercetin when compared to some parts of the world.
‘Red onions contain quercetin and anthocyanin, antioxidants that create an unfavorable environment for the cancer cells and inhibit tumor growth.
Anti-Cancer Properties of Red Onions
The study conducted by Professor Suresh Neethirajan and Ph.D. student Abdulmonem Murayyan from the University of Guelph found that red onion has not only high levels of quercetin but also high amounts of anthocyanin, which enriches the scavenging properties of quercetin molecules.
"Anthocyanin is instrumental in providing color to fruits and vegetables so it makes sense that the red onions, which are darkest in color, would have the most cancer-fighting power," said Murayyan, study's lead author.
For the study, the research team tested the effect of quercetin extracted from five different onion varieties on colon cancer cells.
Onions are effective in killing breast cancer cells. Onions activate the pathways that encourage cancer cells to undergo cell death. "They promote an unfavorable environment for cancer cells, and they disrupt communication between cancer cells, which inhibits growth," said Murayyan.
Recent studies have shown that onions are effective at killing breast cancer cells. "The next step will be to test the vegetable's cancer-fighting powers in human trials," said Murayyan.
The findings are based on a recent study on extraction technique that eliminates the use of chemicals and makes quercetin found in onions more suitable for consumption.
"This new method that we tested to be effective only uses super-heated water in a pressurized container. Developing a chemical-free extraction method is important because it means we can use onion's cancer-fighting properties in nutraceuticals and pill form," said Neethirajan.
While onions can be added to salads as a preventative measure, the research team expect onion extract to be added to food products such as juice or baked goods and also be sold in the form of a pill as a natural cancer treatment.
- Abdulmonem I. Murayyan, Cynthya M. Manohar, Gordon Hayward, Suresh Neethirajan. Antiproliferative activity of Ontario grown onions against colorectal adenocarcinoma cells.Food Research International, 2017; 96: 12 DOI: 10.1016/j.foodres.2017.03.017