Latest News » Thanks to mistletoe, ’tis the season to enhance colon cancer treatment

That mistletoe has other benefits, too.

According to the American Cancer Society, colon cancer is one of the most common forms of the disease in the United States, following skin and lung cancer. Though medical practitioners recommend regular colon health screenings for people over the age of 50, pursuing balanced nutrition throughout your life can go a long way toward reducing your risk. And, while eating an ample amount of fruits and vegetables may ward off the disease altogether, a sprig of seasonal vegetation can potentially treat colon cancer once it develops.

While many people in the United States think of mistletoe as a beloved piece of holiday kitsch, this plant has been touted for its medicinal properties for centuries – dating back to the age of druids. But mistletoe isn't just the stuff of folklore. In fact, according to a press release from the University of Adelaide, an extract derived from mistletoe could be beneficial in the fight against colon cancer.

Mistletoe extract has already been incorporated in cancer-fighting treatments throughout Europe, but has yet to be implemented in the United States and Australia "due to a lack of scientific testing," the source states.

Zahra Lotfollahi, a student at the University of Adelaide, chose to tackle this concern in a research project, and her findings may significantly enhance colon cancer treatment efforts throughout the country.

Lotfallahi tested the impact of three different misteltoe extracts on colon cancer cells and found that one in particular – Fraxini – was actually more effective at preventing their spread than a chemotherapy drug she compared the extracts to. Plus, it proved to be more gentle on healthy cells than existing treatments.

It remains to be seen how this discovery will impact colon cancer treatment, not just in Australia, but even in the United States. In the meantime, eating healthy foods, getting regular exercise and limiting alcohol consumption can reduce your cancer risk overall.