Can Orange Juice Reduce Your Risk of Cancer?

orange juice splashing

Background: Who amongst us doesn’t love a nice, cold glass of orange juice at breakfast? Orange juice has many potential positive anti-cancer effects , particularly because it is high in antioxidants from flavonoids such as hesperitin and naringinin. Evidence from previous laboratory studies has indicated that orange juice might reduce the risk of leukemia in children, and may aid in chemoprevention against breast, liver, and colon cancers.

The Study: In a review article in Nutrition and Cancer: An International Journal, researchers review the available evidence that links orange juice with cancer chemoprevention. The review article, “Orange Juice and Cancer Chemoprevention” discusses the putative mechanisms involved in the process, the potential toxicity of orange juice, and the available data in terms of evidence-based medicine.

This review article summarizes several biological effects of orange juice that might contribute to chemoprevention, including antioxidant, anti-mutation,  and antigenotoxic, cell protective, hormonal, and cell signaling modulating effects. Orange juice has antimicrobial and antiviral action and modulates the absorption of xenobiotics. “Orange juice could contribute to chemoprevention at every stage of cancer initiation and progression,” the researchers explained.Among the most relevant biological effects of OJ is the juice’s antigenotoxic and antimutagenic potential, which was shown in cells in culture and in rodents and humans.”

My Take: This study is hypothesis -generating: Orange juice may have significant anti-cancer effects associated with it. It does not provide high-level evidence to prove it. The authors rightfully point out the dangers of too much of a good thing:  Consumed in excess amounts — especially for children, hypertensive, kidney-compromised, and diabetics – OJ can cause noxious effects, including hyperkalemia (blood levels of potassium that are too high), and has been associated with both food allergies and bacterial outbreaks in cases where the juice was unpasteurized. “Excessive intake of any food, even for the healthiest, can lead to oxidative status imbalance,” write the researchers. Still, OJ looks promising, and I really hope that additional research is done to determine the optimal amount of orange juice for cancer chemoprevention. As for me, I’m heading for my daily glass of OJ with breakfast!

The small print: The material presented herein is informational only, and is not designed to provide specific guidance for an individual. Please check with a valued health care provider with any questions or concerns. As for me, I am a Harvard- , Yale- and UPenn-educated radiation oncologist, and I practice in the Seattle, WA (USA) area. I feel genuinely privileged to be able to share with you. If you enjoyed today’s offering, please consider clicking the follow button at the bottom of this page.

Available now: Understand Colon Cancer in 60 Minutes; Understand Brain Glioma in 60 Minutes. Both can be found at the Apple Ibooks store. Coming Soon for iPad:  Understand Breast Cancer in 60 Minutes; Understand Colon Cancer in 60 Minuteable now: Understand Colon Cancer in 60 Minutes; Understand Brain Glioma in 60 Minutes. Thank you.

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Harvard AB Yale MD UPenn Radiation Oncology Radiation Oncologist, Seattle area

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