In 1954 Linus Pauling was awarded the first of his two Nobel Prizes. This one was for Chemistry (the second was the Peace Prize) and he won it for promoting the idea that large doses of vitamin C could lessen the effects of the common cold. He also conducted a series of studies which showed that intravenous doses of vitamin C prolonged the lives of cancer patients beyond normal expectancy.
Vitamin C is, of course, an important ingredient of all citrus fruit. Current thinking is that it is the bioflavonoids, namely limonoids, in citrus that convey the benefits rather than vitamin C. Therefore, it seems wise to get your vitamin C and your bioflavonoids from a fruit rather than from a pill. And it is quite possible that citrus fruit have other benefitsto offer. Orange peelshave been used for centuries as natural de-odorisers, cleaners, fire-starters and insect repellents. It seems, however, that the greatest benefit you can derive from them is to eat them, including the somewhat bitter white pithy part where the bioflavonoids are concentrated.
Naringenin, found in all citrus fruits as well as tomato peels, seems to be able to repair the damage to DNA that frequently leads to cancer. Studies in Japan suggest that consumption of citrus correlates with a reduced incidence of cancer. It seems to be particularly effective when combined with a high consumption of green tea.
In 1999, The American Chemical Society met in Anaheim, California, and scientists presented papers which suggested that limonoidsmay stem the spread oral cancer; others suggested thatlimonoid creams could destroy skin cancer.Scientists produced anti-cancer effects in animals using limonoids and prevented the development of breast cancer cells in a cultural medium.
Furthermore, in experiments with obese mice, naringeninstimulated the liver enough to burn excess fat and return the test subjects to a normal weight.The mechanism seems to be that naringeninencouragesthe liver to burn the excess fat, rather than to store it.
A Canadian study concluded that naringenin had tremendous potential for preventing weight-gain, and the problems related to obesity, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.The studies show that naringenin, which has insulin-like properties, can correct many metabolic disturbances.
It may be, however, that to achieve the anti-cancer and obesity-reducing effects of naringnin, one has to consume the flavonoid in quantities far greater than can easily be obtained from a normal diet. There will need to be clinical trials to determine whether high doses of naringenin are as effective as hoped – and safe for human consumption.
Even so, the well-known grapefruit diet seems more and more appealing – weight loss AND protection against cancer. Now that is something one can live with.