A new study has found that a compound found in onions named onionin A or ONA has anti- epithelial ovarian (EOC) cancer effects.


Onion is a common and most important vegetable that has been used for cooking. They are low in calories and high in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. This spicy vegetable has previously been cited for its health benefits, including lowering risk of certain cancers,hair growth and helping with depression. But now, a new study has found that a compound found in onions has anti- epithelial ovarian (EOC) cancer effects.

Cancer that forms in the tissue covering the ovary (one of a pair of female reproductive glands in which eggs are made) .Most ovarian cancers are epithelial ovarian cancer cancers.Fallopian tube cancer and primary peritoneal cancer are similar to epithelial ovarian cancer and are staged and treated the same way. It is also called ovarian epithelial cancer.

The study was done by the scientist of Kumamoto University in Japan and is published in the “Scientific Reports”.

As stated by the team, a 2014 review from the World Health Organization (WHO)revealed that epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC) is the most common type of ovarian cancer. With a 5-year survival rate of approximately 40 percent,effective treatments for the illness are needed.

Though new cases of EOC ranks 10th among female malignancies, the team says the number of deaths due to this type of ovarian cancer ranks fifth in the United States.



Almost 80 percent of patients with EOC have a relapse after initial chemotherapy treatment. As such, the researchers looked into the effects that a natural compound in onions - called onionin A or ONA - has on EOC.

After examining the effects of ONA on a preclinical model of EOC in cells, the researchers found that the growth of EOCs slowed down after the team introduced ONA.

The research team found that ONA inhibited pro-tumor activities of myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSC), which the researchers say are linked with the suppression of the anti-tumor immune response of host lymphocytes.

In addition, they found that ONA enhanced anti-cancer drugs' effects by boosting their anti-proliferation ability.

The anti-ovarian cancer effect of ONA

For their study on an ovarian cancer mouse model, the researchers used oral doses of ONA. Results showed that the mice had longer life spans and showed diminished ovarian cancer tumor development.

Theteam says their study demonstrates that ONA slows progression of ovarian cancer tumors by interrupting myeloid cells' pro-tumor activity.

"We found that ONA reduced the extent of ovarian cancer cell proliferation induced by co-culture with human macrophages. In addition, we found that ONA directly suppressed cancer cell proliferation.

Thus, ONA is considered useful for the additional treatment of patients with ovarian cancer owing to its suppression of the pro-tumor activation of [tumor-associated macrophages] and direct cytotoxicity against cancer cells." The research team added.

The investigators did not observe side effects in animals, and they say with more testing, an oral ONA supplement could help cancer patients.

They conclude their study by noting it is the first to report an anti-ovarian cancer effect of ONA.

In a previous study, the same research team found that ONA suppressed the pro-tumor activation of host myeloid cells.


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