Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Strong-flavored Onions Show Promise For Fighting Cancer

Date:
October 22, 2004
Source:
American Chemical Society
Summary:
Strong-flavored onions can be harsh on your social life, but they’re potentially great for fighting cancer. Researchers at Cornell University have found, in preliminary lab studies, that members of the onion family with the strongest flavor — particularly New York Bold, Western Yellow and shallots — are the best varieties for inhibiting the growth of liver and colon cancer cells.

Strong-flavored onions can be harsh on your social life, but they’re potentially great for fighting cancer. Researchers at Cornell University have found, in preliminary lab studies, that members of the onion family with the strongest flavor — particularly New York Bold, Western Yellow and shallots — are the best varieties for inhibiting the growth of liver and colon cancer cells.

“No one knows yet how many daily servings of onions you’d have to eat to maximize protection against cancer, but our study suggests that people who are more health-conscious might want to go with the stronger onions rather than the mild ones,” says study leader Rui Hai Liu, M.D., Ph.D., a chemist with Cornell’s Department of Food Science in Ithaca, N.Y.

Researchers have known for some time that onions may help fight cancer, but the current study is believed to be the first to compare cancer-fighting abilities among commonly consumed onion varieties. The new study will appear in the Nov. 3 print issue of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Chemical Society, the world’s largest scientific society.

Liu and his associates analyzed 10 common onion varieties and shallots for total antioxidant activity and their ability to fight the growth of cancer in human cell lines. Although shallots resemble onions, they are actually a separate, distinctive species. Fresh, uncooked samples were used, with extracts taken from the bulbs with the outer skin removed.

Shallots and onion varieties with the strongest flavor — Western Yellow, New York Bold and Northern Red — had the highest total antioxidant activity, an indication that they may have a stronger ability to destroy charged molecules called free radicals, an excess of which are thought to increase the risk of disease, particularly cancer, the researcher says.

Onion varieties with the mildest flavor — Empire Sweet, Western White, Peruvian Sweet, Mexico, Texas 1015, Imperial Valley Sweet and Vidalia — had the lowest total antioxidant activity, Liu says.

In tests against liver and colon cancer cells, onions were significantly better at inhibiting the growth of colon cancer cells than liver cancer cells, an indication that they are potentially better at fighting colon cancer, the researcher says. The strongest cancer-fighters tested were the New York Bold variety, Western Yellow and shallots. The sweetest tasting onions, including the beloved Vidalia, showed relatively little cancer-fighting ability, he notes.

Green onions and cocktail onions were not tested in this study, nor did the researcher test whether cooking made a difference in terms of cancer-fighting ability. Liu cautions that human studies are needed before any definitive links between onion consumption and cancer-prevention can be established.

While popular as fried “rings,” onions are known mostly for their ability to add flavor to a variety of food dishes, including meats, pizza, soups and salads. But they are increasingly becoming known for their potential health benefits. Onions are rich in a flavor compound known as quercetin, a potent antioxidant that has been linked to protection against cataracts and heart disease as well as cancer. They are also sodium, fat and cholesterol free.

Onions are the third-most consumed vegetable crop in the United States, with a per capita consumption estimated around 19 pounds per year and a retail value estimated at $3 billion to $4 billion, according to the National Onion Association.

Onions can be part of a healthy diet. The National Cancer Institute recommends eating at least five servings of fruits and vegetables a day.

The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets provided funding for this study.

The American Chemical Society is a nonprofit organization, chartered by the U.S. Congress, with a multidisciplinary membership of more than 159,000 chemists and chemical engineers. It publishes numerous scientific journals and databases, convenes major research conferences and provides educational, science policy and career programs in chemistry. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Chemical Society. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

American Chemical Society. "Strong-flavored Onions Show Promise For Fighting Cancer." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 October 2004. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/10/041022105413.htm>.
American Chemical Society. (2004, October 22). Strong-flavored Onions Show Promise For Fighting Cancer. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/10/041022105413.htm
American Chemical Society. "Strong-flavored Onions Show Promise For Fighting Cancer." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/10/041022105413.htm (accessed April 18, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Friday, April 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

'Holy Grail' Of Weight Loss? New Find Could Be It

'Holy Grail' Of Weight Loss? New Find Could Be It

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) In a potential breakthrough for future obesity treatments, scientists have used MRI scans to pinpoint brown fat in a living adult for the first time. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Create Stem Cells From Adult Skin Cells

Scientists Create Stem Cells From Adult Skin Cells

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) The breakthrough could mean a cure for some serious diseases and even the possibility of human cloning, but it's all still a way off. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obama: 8 Million Healthcare Signups

Obama: 8 Million Healthcare Signups

AP (Apr. 17, 2014) President Barack Obama gave a briefing Thursday announcing 8 million people have signed up under the Affordable Care Act. He blasted continued Republican efforts to repeal the law. (April 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Is Apathy A Sign Of A Shrinking Brain?

Is Apathy A Sign Of A Shrinking Brain?

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) A recent study links apathetic feelings to a smaller brain. Researchers say the results indicate a need for apathy screening for at-risk seniors. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins