Onion Compound, ONA, May Help Fight Ovarian Cancer – Study

Health benefits of consuming onions are plenty, thanks to an abundance of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants naturally present in this pungent vegetable. While many of you already know that onions can make your immunity stronger, regulate your blood sugar, as well as reduce inflammation and heal infections, did you know that onions can help fight ovarian cancer?

You read it right! A natural compound isolated from onions, called onionin A, or ONA, has several anti-ovarian cancer properties, a new study has claimed.

Researchers from Kumamoto University in Japan conducted the study to look into the effects of ONA on epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC), which is pronounced as the most common type of ovarian cancer by the World Health Organization (WHO). The research team cited the Geneva-based health agency’s 2014 review of cancer medicines which shows EOC has a five-year survival rate of about 40 percent.

Since a majority of EOC patients, about 80 percent, experience a relapse after their initial treatment with chemotherapy, a more effective treatment is needed to fight the disease.

The team studies the ONA’s effects on a preclinical model of EOC both in vivo and in vitro.

The team’s in vitro experiments demonstrated that EOCs, which usually go under rapid proliferation in the presence of pro-tumour M2 macrophages, showed inhibited growth after being introduced to the ONA.

The researchers suspect, this happened due to ONA influence on Signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 or STAT3, a transcription factor known to play a key role in both M2 polarisation and cancer cell proliferation.

They also discovered that ONA inhibited pro-tumor activities of myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSC), which are linked with the suppression of the anti-tumor immune response of host lymphocytes.

Furthermore, ONA found to enhance anti-cancer drugs’ effects by strengthening their anti-proliferation ability.

In further experiments, the same group of researchers investigated the effects of orally administered ONA on an ovarian cancer mouse model. They found that the mice had longer lifespans and showed inhibited ovarian cancer tumor development.

“We found that ONA reduced the extent of ovarian cancer cell proliferation induced by co-culture with human macrophages. In addition, we found that ONA directly suppressed cancer cell proliferation.
Thus, ONA is considered useful for the additional treatment of patients with ovarian cancer owing to its suppression of the pro-tumor activation of [tumor-associated macrophages] and direct cytotoxicity against cancer cells,” said the study authors.

No side effects were observed by the investigators in animals, and they assert with a little more testing, an oral ONA supplement could help ovarian cancer patients fight the disease.