Anti-Cancer Properties Found in Kencur Ginger

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Researchers from Osaka Metropolitan University say they’ve found promising evidence that Kencur, a tropical plant in the ginger family, can suppress cancer cell growth.

The study, published in the journal Heliyon, was led by Akiko Kojima, PhD, an associate professor at the Osaka Metropolitan University’s Graduate School of Human Life and Ecology in Osaka, Japan. Previous studies have indicated that the main active component in Kencur, ethyl p-methoxycinnamate (EMC), may have anti-cancer potential. For this investigation, Kojima and his colleagues aimed to better understand the underlying mechanisms of Kencur ginger and EMC’s anti-cancer properties.

To do so, Kojima and his team began by observing the effects of Kencur extract in Ehrlich ascites tumor cells (EATC). According to the study, EATC is a well-established tumor model used to examine the anti-cancer effects of many compounds.

The study’s findings indicated that EMC is the active compound in Kencur ginger responsible for its anti-cancer effects. Researchers said the EMC suppressed EATC proliferation by regulating the protein expression of cyclin D1 and p21 genes. In addition, EMC appeared to decrease the expression of mitochondrial transcription factor A (TFAM).

Researchers also observed the effects of EMC and Kencur ginger in EATC-bearing mice. The mice were injected with EATC for 13 days. Some mice were given Kencur ginger and EMC through oral administration. After the trial period, researchers measured the volume of ascites fluid in the mice to gauge how much the cancer had spread. They found that the volume of ascites fluid was significantly increased in the mice injected with EATC. However, the ascites fluid was suppressed in the mice given the oral administration of EMC and Kencur ginger.

According to Kojima, these results add to the evidence of EMC's anti-cancer properties and pave the way for future cancer research. “The results of this study confirm the anti-cancer effects of Kencur extract and its main active ingredient, EMC,” she said. “It is highly expected that TFAM will become a new marker for anti-cancer effects in the future as research advances in related fields.”