PT on the Net Research

Noni Juice and Cancer


Question:

One of my clients has been diagnosed with having a tumor on the pituitary gland and is awaiting the operation to remove it. Subsequently, she has experienced the weight gain associated with this condition. In the interim, I have recommended a course of Tahitian Noni juice as a supplement for wellbeing/general health benefits. But I would also like to know what exercise protocols would best serve her leading up to the operation. I am conscious of keeping her natural growth hormone levels to an acceptable point along with ability to reduce excess weight in a non-aggressive manner. Any information you can provide would help.

Answer:

It’s good you want to get her as strong as possible prior to surgery. I'm sure this will help her immensely during her recovery period. As for your question about her growth hormone levels, while I am not an endocrinologist, I would guess that since her tumor is on her pituitary gland (where GH is made) I would think that she would have high levels of growth hormone to begin with. Regardless of her GH levels and working around any limitations she may have, I would focus on large muscle group, multi-joint exercises like leg presses, squats, bench presses, push ups etc. These will do a better job of maintaining a positive nitrogen balance as well as her anabolic hormone levels. In general, depending on how strong she is now, try maintaining the weight lifted at where she can do eight to 10 reps and try to perform three to four sets per exercise and keep the rest periods between sets to about one to two minutes between sets. Again, depending on how strong she is now and how soon the surgery is, this may or may not be appropriate. This may also be inappropriate if she has any cardiovascular problems like high blood pressure. You know your client’s health issues and strength better than I do. I wouldn’t increase intensity to this level if she is not close to this level already. Otherwise, it may increase her risk of injury. As she gets close to surgery, taper off the frequency exercise. We want her to be as strong as possible prior to surgery but not fatigued. We don't want her to be battling surgery as well as repairing exercise-related muscle damage. Use your own good judgment on her limitations, and you should be fine.

Now, let’s discuss your other question about Tahitian Noni juice. I have done extensive research on the claims and evidence supplements including noni. Despite my best efforts, I cannot find any published peer reviewed evidence to support any of the claims being made about Tahitian Noni juice. Noni does contain a lot of vitamins and plant chemicals that are only starting to be investigated. However, I have yet to see any published peer reviewed clinical study of Tahitian Noni juice itself that claims it does anything to keep us healthy.

Ironically, it was the leaves of the noni plant (and not the fruit or juice) that was traditionally used to treat burns, etc. The juice was not usually consumed because of the bitter taste. Juicing is very popular these days and rightly so. A majority of evidence finds that people who eat lots of fruits and vegetables have less disease including cancer. However, the evidence does not show that noni has the same effects.

Many web sites tout noni juice as a general cure-all, and some claim it can reduce cancer. This may be why you recommended it to your client. I can tell you that when it comes to cancer, some research finds that components in noni may reduce blood vessel formation, which in theory may help by blocking oxygen and nutrient delivery to tumor cells. Noni contains a chemical called “noni-ppt,” which has been studied in test tubes and lab animals for its anticancer effects. That being said, I am unaware of any published peer reviewed studies of noni juice or noni-ppt in humans. Despite claims made on web sites, there is much we do not know when it comes to noni and cancer. For example:

  1. Is noni effective against cancer in humans?
  2. What types of cancer does noni juice help?
  3. How much noni is needed to reduce/prevent cancer in humans?
  4. Has noni been clinically proven to extend the lives of cancer patients?
  5. Does noni interact with any medications or supplements?

Noni is usually obtained through a distributor. The questions I posed above would be some that I would ask the distributor before using noni, and I’d ask for proof (published peer reviewed studies) before using the product.

With respect to side effects, I have not seen any reported about noni juice, and in small amounts, it’s probably safe for healthy people. Noni does contain a lot of potassium and, in people with kidney problems, it could lead to hyperkalemia (abnormally high potassium levels). I am a believer in getting off all supplements prior to surgery because of our lack of understanding of how they interact with other medications.

I believe you are to be highly commended by your efforts to help this woman. Personally, I think your client can stop using noni and focus more on eating well (fruits, vegetables, adequate calories, protein and carbs) and proper exercise. Doing this I feel will go a lot further to helping her recover than noni juice or any single supplement.