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UWI study finds anti-cancer properties in purple yam

Published:Wednesday | July 9, 2014 | 12:00 AM

A research centre at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona, said it has discovered the presence of anti-cancer properties in purple yams.

Dr Dennis Bailey from the Biotechnology Centre made the discovery while conducting doctoral studies.

The study reportedly involved a focus on indigenous varieties of yams cultivated in Jamaica known as the Dioscorea alata, the cultivar St Vincent dark night, and moonshine yams.

Bailey told a UWI publication that purple yams contain potent phyto-chemicals, which slow the growth of cancer cells. He said an assessment of these tubers has revealed several properties that prevent the proliferation of cancer cells.

Bailey started his research on purple yams in 2002. His test for the anti-cancer benefits involved experiments on rats.

Bailey said about 90 per cent of the rats in the control group died within 10 days of the experiment as their cancers kept spreading, while those fed with the anti-cancer yam extract lived.