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More great news from the world of anti-cancer research today, brought to our attention by our friends at The Eden Prescription! In a new study (Oct. 2013) published in Biotechnology Letters (a peer-reviewed journal) researchers have discovered that Lectin, a newly discovered ingredient in okra (Abelmoschus esculentus), induces apoptosis (cell death) in human breast cancer cells in vitro. 
The term “In Vitro” means in a laboratory Petri dish (literally “in glassware”).
The abstract from the scientific paper claims that the antitumor effects of the okra were selective – which means that healthy cells were not killed. This selectivity indicates a potential for an anti-cancer agent to be developed. There are many substances that will kill all cells – cancerous or not – but these are irrelevant: The “holy grail” of this kind of research is to find agents that are powerful against cancer cells yet leave healthy cells alone!
Please note that this report does not mean that okra is now to be considered a proven anti-cancer medicine. The fact that okra kills some cancer cells selectively in a petrie dish does not necessarily mean it will cure your cancer. Also, we certainly do NOT wish to advise people to ignore the expert advice of their physician / oncologist on this matter. It will require many more trials – starting with further in vitro studies in order to better understand the mechanism of action of lectin against these cancer cells, then in vivo studies (“in living creatures”) and then studies on humans subjects.
Even those of us who do not have cancer, have some cancer cells in our bodies all the time and to quote Paul Stamets “Cancer is a numbers game”. Our body has natural defenses against cancer cells as part of the immune system, however it stands to reason that the immune system needs all the help it can get so that it doesn’t become overwhelmed, leading to sickness. So, it is possible that okra, along with many other fruits and vegetables, has a role to play in cancer prevention. Until this is established by more science, it seems that it would simply be beneficial to include such healthy items in the diet on a regular basis. You will also probably gain the best nutritional benefits either consuming such foods raw or with minimal cooking.
A few other studies have indicated anti-cancer potential for okra. 
Okra is also popular with people with type 2 diabetes and great claims are made for its efficacy in this regard. The way it is used is to wash then cut the tops and bottoms off 3 or 4 okra, soak them in a glass of water overnight and then drink the water first thing in the morning.
Big thanks once again to The Eden Prescription for bringing this new study to our attention.
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