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HLB Tropical Food USA Inc. is using a recent study by the University of Florida to promote the health benefits of papayas.

HLB, which is based in Plantation, FL, and is among the bigger U.S. importers of Brazilian papayas, is citing a study published March 9 in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology titled "Aqueous extract of Carica papaya leaves exhibit anti-tumor activity and immunomodulatory effects" to raise the awareness of the fruit's health benefits, specifically the cancer-fighting properties of papaya leaves.

A team of researchers led by Nam H. Dang found that the papaya leaf concentrate and tea made of that extract inhibited the growth of tumors in the lung, breast, pancreas, cervix and liver. The study even suggested that in addition to its anti-cancer effects, the papaya leaf extract may contribute to the treatment of several immune disorders.

"We are very excited about Dr. Dang's findings because they complement the numerous existing studies that confirm the powerful health benefits of the papaya - be it the leaf or pulp," Melissa Hartmann de Barros, director of communications for HLB Tropical Food, said in a March 16 press release.

Dr. Dang's study shows that the papaya leaf extract increases the production of Th1-type cytokines, which are molecules that help regulate the body's immune system and which, as shown in the study, result in enhanced anti- tumor benefits. Unlike conventional cancer treatments, the papaya extract shows no toxic effects on normal cells and is therefore a possible future treatment for certain types of cancer.

"It is very rewarding to receive confirmation of what we have been emphasizing since we started working with papayas in 1992, that papayas are not only delicious but also extremely healthy," Homero Levy de Barros, president of HLB Tropical Food, added in the press release. "More and more people are adding papayas to their diet in order to prevent ailments and stay healthy, especially to balance out the effects of the processed foods we ingest every day."