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Research from the University of Belgrade School of Medicine has confirmed what other recent studies have been finding – that Aloe vera and its constituents inhibit the process of skin cell proliferation that accompanies skin cancer.
The researchers tested Aloe-emodin, a constituent of Aloe, with human skin cells – keratinocytes – after being treated with radiation. Once radiated, keratinocytes will typically proliferate in the process of forming skin tumors.
The researchers found that the Aloe-emodin significantly stopped the proliferation process. This confirmed Aloe's benefit in halting the progression of tumor formation after radiation by the sun.
This study confirms other recent findings. Researchers from South Korea's Gachon University of Medicine and Science found that Aloe-emodin specifically halted the growth of human cancerous liver cells. The researchers found that Aloe-emodin stimulated a genetic change within the cancerous cells that not only halted their expansion, but induced cell death among tumor cells.
In 2010, researchers from the China Medical University found this anticancer effect was not exclusive to Aloe's Aloe-emodin. The researchers found that Aloe constitents Emodin and Rhein also produced anticancer effects, which included the halting of tumor progression and cell death among cancer cells.
The research actually found this anticancer effect was greater with Emodin, as compared with Aloe-emodin and Rhein. But Aloe-emodin was observed having stronger cell repair abilities – for those cells that had not become cancerous.
This illustrates what researchers from the Pharmacy School of the University of Belgrade found in another study: "Although isolated plant compounds have a high potential in protection of the skin, whole herbs extracts showed better potential due to their complex composition," the scientists concluded.
These studies of human cells confirm similar findings in animal research - showing the application of Aloe vera gel onto the skin significantly inhibits the progression of skin cancer.
The research also has found that Aloe stimulates the production of melanins and other protective factors that protect the skin from radiation and the progression of tumorous cells.
The gel of the Aloe leaf and its other plant parts contain many constituents outside of those tested in these studies, including quercetin, luteolin, apigenin, kaempferol, isoorientin, isovitexin, saponarin, lutonarin, chlorogenic acid, pectic acid, caffeic acid, 5-P-coumaroylquinic acid, caffeoylshikimic acid, feruloylquinic acid, coumaric acid, ferulic acid, as well as glycosylchromone aloeresin B, and aloin, which is a precursor to Aloe-emodin. This mix of polyphenols, glucans and glucomannans, and alkaloids give Aloe its tremendous anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, along with its ability to stimulate healing.
In 2007, a Washington, D.C. panel of doctors and skin specialists conducted a review – the Cosmetic Ingredient Review – to study the safety of Aloe vera extracts in consumer products. The research found that some of the extracts – particularly those with higher levels of anthraquinones – should be ingested or applied to the skin with some level of caution and professional advice, especially for those with sensitive skin. Aloe-emodin and Emodin are both anthraquinones.
This must be considered together with the many findings that have illustrated that whole plant herbs are safer than extracts because they contain numerous buffering agents that balance the effects of the plant's active constituents.
Whole Aloe gel is easily taken from the Aloe leaf by taking a cutting and peeling off its outer skin. This gel can be applied directly to the skin. The Aloe vera plant is easy to cultivate at home and grows well both indoors and outdoors – though it likes a warm environment and full sun. It is more than irony that Aloe grows best in sunny areas.
Learn more about why the sun is not the real cause of skin cancer.
- Popadic D, Savic E, Ramic Z, Djordjevic V, Trajkovic V, Medenica L, Popadic S. Aloe-emodin inhibits proliferation of adult human keratinocytes in vitro. J Cosmet Sci. 2012 Sep-Oct;63(5):297-302.
- Cosmetic Ingredient Review Expert Panel. Final report on the safety assessment of AloeAndongensis Extract, Aloe Andongensis Leaf Juice,aloe Arborescens Leaf Extract, Aloe Arborescens Leaf Juice, Aloe Arborescens Leaf Protoplasts, Aloe Barbadensis Flower Extract, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice,aloe Barbadensis Leaf Polysaccharides, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Water, Aloe Ferox Leaf Extract, Aloe Ferox Leaf Juice, and Aloe Ferox Leaf Juice Extract. Int J Toxicol. 2007;26 Suppl 2:1-50.
- Saini M, Goyal PK, Chaudhary G. Anti-tumor activity of Aloe vera against DMBA/croton oil-induced skin papillomagenesis in Swiss albino mice. J Environ Pathol Toxicol Oncol. 2010;29(2):127-35.
- Jeon W, Jeon YK, Nam MJ. Apoptosis by aloe-emodin is mediated through down-regulation of calpain-2 and ubiquitin-protein ligase E3A in human hepatoma Huh-7 cells. Cell Biol Int. 2012 Feb;36(2):163-7.
- Chen YY, Chiang SY, Lin JG, Yang JS, Ma YS, Liao CL, Lai TY, Tang NY, Chung JG. Emodin, aloe-emodin and rhein induced DNA damage and inhibited DNA repair gene expression in SCC-4 human tongue cancer cells. Anticancer Res. 2010 Mar;30(3):945-51.
- Korać RR, Khambholja KM. Potential of herbs in skin protection from ultraviolet radiation. Pharmacogn Rev. 2011 Jul;5(10):164-73.