Anticancer effects of bromelain have been shown in previous studies. Bromelain is a powder extracted from pineapples which contain a wide variety of enzymes (proteolytic and non-proteolytic). N-acetylcysteine (NAC) is a chemical found in Allium* plants, and is a precursor to the antioxidant glutathione. Both products are inexpensive and safe.
The researchers discovered a highly beneficial combination of NAC and bromelain to reduce cancer growth and increase cell death in a series of gastrointestinal (GI) cancers. These two natural products have been shown to be safe, and both have been shown to have beneficial effects against GI cancers. Further research now demonstrates that combinations of the two are even more effective.
A variety of GI cancer cell types were included in this study, and a wide variety of dose combinations of NAC and bromelain were tested in cell cultures. NAC and bromelain were both capable of inhibiting cancer proliferation independently. Significantly, nearly all combinations of NAC and bromelain inhibited cancer cell growth better than either NAC or bromelain alone.
Synergy was found at the higher concentrations of bromelain and NAC. That is, their effects together were higher than the sum of the two separate. At low doses the two products reduced the effects of each other. The combination of the two at higher doses interfered with normal cell cycles, causing cell death by apoptosis and autophagy.
CONCLUSION: Bromelain and NAC have a number of anti-cancer properties of their own. However, together they seem to have an even stronger effect in GI cancer (symbiosis). This combination should be studied in other types of cancer in which they are known to be effective separately.
NOTE: The genus Allium includes onions, chives, garlic, leeks, and scallions.
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