One good reason to brew a cup of chamomile tea: researchers say it may help fight cancer.
Researchers from Ohio State University in the US say that chamomile tea contains a chemical called apigenin, which can take away some of the "superpowers" of cancer cells.
In mice studies, scientists found that apigenin can block the ability of breast cancer cells to live far longer than normal cells, slowing their spread and making them more sensitive to drug therapy.
Other abundant sources of apigenin includes parsley and celery, and many fruits and vegetables common in a Mediterranean diet.
"We know we need to eat healthfully, but in most cases we do not know the actual mechanistic reasons for why we need to do that," said co-lead author and molecular geneticist Andrea Doseff, of Ohio State University. "We see here the beneficial effect on health is attributed to this dietary nutrient affecting many proteins."
"In its relationship with a set of specific proteins, apigenin re-establishes the normal profile in cancer cells. We think this can have great value clinically as a potential cancer-prevention strategy."
Doseff noted that abnormal splicing is the culprit in an estimated 80 percent of all cancers. In cancer cells, two types of splicing occur when only one would take place in a normal cell -- a trick on the cancer cells' part to keep them alive and reproducing.
In this study, the researchers observed that apigenin's connection to hnRNPA2 proteins restored this single-splice characteristic to breast cancer cells, suggesting that when splicing is normal, cells die in a programmed way or become more sensitive to chemotherapeutic drugs. But apigenin could stop breast cancer cells from inhibiting this process, activing the "killing machinery," Doseff said.
"Thus, this suggests that when we eat healthfully, we are actually promoting more normal splice forms inside the cells in our bodies."
The research will appear this week in the online early edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
© AFP 2013