Sunday, January 21, 2007


TGF-β in Ovarian Cancer: Juice Plus Falls Short of The Real Thing

According to a research abstract posted on the website of the Texas A&M University System, a 2004 study conducted by Mercy Dickson and colleagues at Prairie View A&M University and MD Anderson Cancer Center has shown that Juice Plus fruit- and vegetable-based supplements do not replicate the beneficial effects of real fruits and vegetables on blood levels of TGF-β in ovarian cancer survivors.[1] TGF-β is an anti-proliferative protein that plays an important role in the cell cycle and may reduce the risk of ovarian cancer recurrence. Subjects in the study consumed two different diets; one group of 10 subjects consumed the Whel Study diet and another group of 10 subjects consumed the NCI diet in combination with Juice Plus. The NCI diet is based on guidelines recommending 5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day, 20 grams of fiber, and 30% of calories from fats, while the requisite amounts of fruit/vegetable and fiber intake are roughly double with the Whel diet (5 servings of nutrient-dense vegetables, 16 oz vegetable juice, 3 servings of fruit, 30 g fiber and 20% calories from fat).

The apparent aim of this study was to see whether Juice Plus would offer benefits equivalent to those provided by the extra servings of fruits, vegetables, and fiber in the Whel Study diet. After 3 months, TGF-β levels were higher in the subjects who consumed the Whel Study diet than in subjects on the Juice Plus/NCI diet. These results indicate that Juice plus does not provide the equivalent beneficial effects of fruit and vegetables on TGF-β, a possible protective factor against ovarian cancer.

It should be pointed out that this study has only appeared in abstract form and it is unclear whether the authors plan to eventually publish the complete study as a medical journal article. It is also unknown as to who provided funding for the study and whether any of the authors have financial ties to NSA. However, it is likely that the study was funded by NSA, since one of the authors, Gloria Regisford, was a graduate student under Lovell A. Jones at Texas A&M University.[2] Lovell Jones appeared on a Juice Plus promotional/training video entitled The Science of Juice Plus in 2002 and accepted $224,950 in funding from NSA that same year.[2]

Jones’s most recent Juice Plus research, a study in ovarian cancer patients in remission, compares dietary counseling by telephone versus a diet that includes Juice Plus Complete and Juice Plus capsules.[3] The study’s main endpoints include blood measurements of several vitamins (beta-carotene, vit B12, vitamin E) and minerals (magnesium, zinc, and iron), all of which are added artificially as fortifiers to Juice Plus capsules. The study, which is non-blinded and not placebo controlled, appears to have limited value and seems like a flimsy pretext to provide NSA with any research data that that can be leveraged to promote Juice Plus for cancer patients. Jones’s NSA research grant was due to expire more than a year and half ago (on August 1, 2005), but to date no publications have been generated, with the possible exception of the abstract by Dickson et al. It is unclear whether Jones, Regisford, or Dickson sell Juice Plus or have other financial ties to Juice Plus or NSA.

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