Tests conducted by Dutch scientists led by Maikel Peppelenbosch show that apigenin -- a common flavanoid found in fruit and vegetables -- was able to halt the development of two kinds of cells in leukemia and cut their survival chances.
But the study had also found the compound may decrease chemotherapy sensitivity, depending on the cell type, suggesting it might interfere with standard treatments for people already diagnosed with leukemia.
"Apigenin might be a useful preventative agent for leukemia, but it should not be taken at the same time as chemotherapy for established disease as it could interfere with the positive effects of treatment," Peppelenbosch wrote in a study in the Cell Death and Disease scientific journal.
Flavanoids are compounds with antioxidant properties that protect cells against damage by oxygen molecules.
R R Ruela-de-Sousa, G M Fuhler, N Blom, C V Ferreira, H Aoyama and M P Peppelenbosch. Cytotoxicity of apigenin on leukemia cell lines: implications for prevention and therapy. Cell Death and Disease (2010) 1, e19