Kentucky has one of the highest rates of colorectal cancers in the nation, with about 50 of every 100,000 Kentuckians being diagnosed with the disease each year. The state also ranks among the worst in colorectal cancer deaths, with 18-20 deaths per 100,000 annually. So perhaps Kentuckians should care more about some research that was announced as seasonal fare: using mistletoe extract in chemotherapy
At the University of Adelaide, scientists found that an extract from mistletoe grown on ash trees was found to be highly effective against colon-cancer cells in cell cultures and was gentler on healthy intestinal cells compared with chemotherapy. In fact, the extract was found to be more potent against cancer cells than the chemotherapy drug. It has been authorized for use by sufferers of colon cancer in Europe, but has not been allowed yet in some countries such as Australia and the United States due to a lack of scientific testing. (Read more.)
We should note that the leaves and berries of some mistletoe species are mildly toxic. The plant is parasitic, growing on trees and forming green clumps that are highly visible this time of year and popular as Christmas decorations, especially at the top of doorways, where tradition calls for anyone standing under the mistletoe to be kissed.
Kentucky Health News is a service of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, based in the School of Journalism and Telecommunications at the University of Kentucky, with support from the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky.