Nutrition Frontiers - Spring 2019

Volume 10, Issue 2

Date Posted: 

Monday, April 29, 2019

Dear Nutrition Enthusiast,

This issue showcases coffee, tea, caffeine and the risk of skin cancer, bitter melon’s potential as a novel pancreatic cancer chemotherapeutic agent, and sulforaphane’s effects on fatty acid metabolism. Meet our spotlight investigator, Dr. Christian Jobin, and his research on genotoxic microbial gene clusters in cancer development. Learn about jackfruit, the versatile “jack of all trades,” upcoming announcements and more.


Caffeinated Coffee and Tea and the Risk of Non-Melanoma Skin Cancer Among Chinese

Cups of coffee.Coffee and tea are the most widely consumed beverages in the world and epidemiological evidence suggests a possible protective role of caffeine for non-melanoma skin cancer (NMSC). Using data from the Singapore Chinese Health Study, Oh and colleagues explored the association between caffeine consumption and the incidence of NMSC. Coffee intake was associated with reduced NMSC risk in a dose-dependent manner. Compared with those who drank coffee less than weekly, the risk was significantly reduced in daily drinkers and with increasing number of cups per day. In the highest intake category of ≥3 cups/day, the HRs (95% CIs) were 0.54 (0.31-0.93) for risk of basal cell carcinoma and 0.33 (0.13-0.84) for squamous cell carcinoma. Compared with non-drinkers, daily drinkers of black tea had significantly reduced NMSC risk (HR=0.70; 95% CI=0.52-0.94). Caffeine intake reduced NMSC risk in a stepwise manner; those with caffeine intakes of ≥400 mg/day had the lowest risk (HR=0.59, 95% CI=0.34-1.04). Among Chinese in Singapore, consumption of caffeinated beverages, such as coffee and black tea may reduce the risk of NMSC.


Stars in Nutrition and Cancer lecture Breaking the Obesity-Cancer Link: New Targets and Strategies by Dr. Stephen Hursting available for viewing. All past lectures have been approved by the CDR for CPE credit for RDNs.

Upcoming Events

May 15-17, 2019
The AICR 2019 Research Conference
American Institute for Cancer Research
Chapel Hill, NC

June 3-4, 2019
The Physiology of the Weight Reduced State
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
National Institutes of Health
Bethesda, MD
(webinar available)

June 3-7, 2019
The Mathematical Science in Obesity Research
The Sheraton Inner Harbor Hotel
Baltimore, MD

June 8 -11, 2019
Nutrition 2019:  Where the Best in Science & Health Meet
American Society for Nutrition
Baltimore, MD

July 29 – August 2, 2019
Causal Inference in Behavioral Obesity Research Indiana Memorial Union
Indiana University
Bloomington, IN


Bitter Melon Juice Efficacy Against Pancreatic Cancer

A picture of the raw fruit and glass of bitter melon juice.Although a small part of the tumor, pancreatic cancer (PanC)-associated cancer stem cells (CSCs) play a key role in the initiation, progression, relapse, and drug-resistance of pancreatic cancer and have been shown to be influenced by phytonutrients. Dhar and colleagues studied PanC-CSC modulation and assessed the anticancer efficacy of the Chinese variety of bitter melon juice’s (BMJ) in vitro and in vivo.  They found BMJ dose-dependently decreased the number and size of PanC spheroids in CD44+/CD24+/EpCAMHigh enriched PanC-CSCs and the growth of unsorted PanC cells. Single and multiple exposures of BMJ decreased pre-formed pancreatic spheres, protein expression and levels of CSC-associated transcription factors including SOX2, OCT4, NANOG, and CSC marker CD44.   BMJ also increased the sensitivity of gemcitabine-resistant PanC-CSCs.  These findings highlight BMJ’s ability to target PanC-CSCs and bulk tumor population and warrant further studies to determine BMJ’s potential as a novel PanC chemotherapeutic agent targeting PanC, Pan-CSCs, and associated regulatory pathways.  

Sulforaphane Inhibition of Fatty Acid Metabolism in Prostate Cancer Mouse Model

A variety of cruciferous vegetables.Although de novo fatty acid synthesis is very low in most normal adult human tissues, fatty acid synthesis is elevated in neoplastic cells and a dominant metabolic pathway in prostate cancer. Singh and colleagues provide in vitro and in vivo evidence that sulforaphane (SFN) – an isothiocyanate found in cruciferous vegetables – inhibited de novo fatty acid synthesis in prostate cancer. In vivo - in the plasma and/or prostate adenocarcinoma of Transgenic Adenocarcinoma of Mouse Prostate (TRAMP) mice, SFN administration decreased levels of the fatty acid precursor acetyl-CoA, total free fatty acids and total phospholipids. In two different human prostate cancer cell lines (LNCaP and 22Rv1), SFN decreased the expression of key fatty acid synthesis enzymes, acetyl-CoA carboxylase 1, fatty acid synthase, and carnitine palmitoyltransferase 1A, as well as the expression of β-oxidation dehydrogenases. This study demonstrates that prostate cancer prevention by SFN in TRAMP mice is associated with inhibition of fatty acid metabolism.


Portrait of Christian Jobin, Ph.D.Christian Jobin, Ph.D., is the Gatorade Trust Professor of Medicine at the University of Florida Gainesville. He is the co-leader of the Cancer Therapeutics Host Response research program at the University of Florida Health Cancer Center.  Dr. Jobin’s research focuses on establishing the functional impact of bacteria in inflammation and carcinogenesis and deciphering mechanism of action. His laboratory showed the key role of genotoxic microbial gene clusters in the development of carcinogenesis.  He demonstrated influences of inflammation on intestinal microbial carcinogenic activities.  He has published over 160 scientific papers (Science, Nature, Nat. Comm., Nat. Micro., Immunity, J. Exp. Med., J. Clin. Invest., Gastroenterology) and presented his work at various national and international scientific meetings.  Dr. Jobin is the principal investigator of numerous NIH funded proposals, including an R01, Impact of Microbiota-Mediated Biotransformation of Black Tea Polyphenols

Read more about Christian Jobin

Did you know?  Jackfruit: The Versatile “Jack of All Trades”

A picture of jackfruit.The stately Jackfruit tree long valued for its high-quality timber used to make furniture and musical instruments also produces the world’s largest fruit to grow on trees. A single Jackfruit typically weighs 10 to 60 pounds and can weigh as much as 110 pounds!  The yellow edible arils (fruit) offers a host of phytonutrients along with fiber, potassium, iron, magnesium, and calcium all encapsulated in a unique subtle-sweet flavor.  The seeds, the size of Brazil nuts, offer a starchy chestnut texture reminiscent of potatoes but with a greater protein punch (7 grams protein/100 gm).  The seeds can be boiled, roasted and used to make hummus or ground into flour.

Jackfruit’s global popularity is seeping into the US with its “adaptable texture” as a vegan-friendly alternative to pulled pork and chicken in tacos, enchiladas, curries, and is also being explored in soups, chips, jams, juices, and ice cream.  Try any one of these recipes and the next time you are at the grocery store check-out Jackfruit as dried, frozen, canned… or savor a bite of fresh young Jackfruit for a delightful flavor, slight crunch and appreciate this “Jack of all trades!”