SAN FRANCISCO (CBS 5) – Researchers have found that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables can reduce your risk of developing all types of cancers, but can a plant-based supplement help with a recurrence of cancer?

Scientists at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio have teamed up with a California supplement company to find out.

They’re testing a compound, extracted from trees commonly found in Asia, to see if the supplement can help manage prostate cancer.

John Fitzgerald is in the middle of 35 radiation treatments for prostate cancer.

The 62-year-old already had surgery to remove the diseased gland. Now, doctors are zapping away a recurrence. He knows it’s survivable, yet he remains concerned.

“It’s still cancer,” said Fitzgerald, “You know, there’s no way around it. It’s cancer.”

The UT researchers believe the extract may help treat prostate cancer and its complications in men like Fitzgerald.

It’s a compound made from the bark of an East Asia tree. The supplement, known as Nexrutine, is made by Next Pharmaceuticals in California.

Currently, it’s sold in pill form as an anti-inflammatory but early animal studies showed it shrunk tumors in mice.

“In the lab, chemically, we can synthesize, do modifications. But nature is nature. You have unique things there which we don’t know,” said Dr. A. Pratap Kumar, the lead investigator of the trial.

In this trial, men will be given the tree compound before and during radiation.

Other men will also get the compound before surgery.

Scientists want to see if combining eastern and western medicine will create fewer side effects and a better outcome.

“We are very excited and hopefully this will have some effect,” said Dr. Kumar

The plant extract is inexpensive and seems to be non-toxic.

“If they could dig up something or find something, be it from the bark of a Chinese tree or what, I’d be all for it. I think it’d be great,” said Mr. Fitzgerald.

The compound has been used traditionally in Chinese medicine for hundreds of years as an anti-inflammatory agent.

If the study results are encouraging — showing it’s effective and safe — the study will be expanded to include more patients and more test sites across the country.

(Copyright 2011 by CBSSan Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services may have contributed to this report.)

Comments (3)
  1. Huh? says:

    How come this article doesn’t mention the name of this supplement?

    1. Shane says:

      Umm it did. Reading comprehension?

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