Opuntia ficus-indica and its potential effects on cancer
Keywords:Cancer, OFI, prickly pear, anticancer, chemoprevention, antioxidants
Cancer is the second leading cause of death worldwide, with an estimated 19.3 million new cases and 10.0 million deaths in 2021. Genetic and environmental factors, including nutrition, play an important role in cancer development. At present, health professionals and the public have become highly interested in natural products and healthy food for preventing or treating cancer. Several natural products, such as fruits and vegetables, have demonstrated anticancer effects. Opuntia ficus-indica (OFI), commonly known as prickly pear or cactus pear, is a plant that has numerous beneficial properties. It serves as a source of dietary fibres, vitamins and various bioactive compounds with diverse health benefits. These compounds are associated with anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antimicrobial, hypoglycaemic and neuroprotective properties. Different parts of the plant, including the fruit pulp and peel, cladodes (pads) and seeds, have been scientifically studied, and they have demonstrated therapeutic potential while being considered safe for human consumption. However, there is limited awareness and scientific information about OFI as a fruit. Reviewing existing knowledge and research on it is necessary to shed light on its potential anticancer properties. By consolidating the available information on OFI, we can gain a better understanding of this fruit and its potential role in cancer prevention and treatment.
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