Researchers believe that they may be able to develop a new cancer treatment from tangerine peel, having isolated a compound that can kill some cancer cells.
Presenting their findings at the British Pharmaceutical Conference, researchers from the Leicester School of Pharmacy revealed that a compound called Salvestrol Q40, derived from tangerine peel, was able to destroy human cancer cells.
Dr Hoon Tan, a medical chemist, commented: "Salvestrols may offer a new mechanism of dietary anti-cancer action. Indeed, the depletion of salvestrols in the modern diet is due to the fact that many people no longer eat the skin of fruits and this may be a major contributory factor to the increasing incidence of some cancers in the human population."
Dr Tan said that the finding was "very exciting", although he noted that the research is still in its early days.
Dr Julie Sharp, Cancer Research UK's science information manager, told the BBC: "Many naturally occurring substances have anti-cancer properties, but while this research shows that salvestrols have an effect on cells in the laboratory, there is no evidence that they have a similar effect in patients.
"Clinical trials would be needed to tell us if these substances could be developed into a cancer treatment."
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