This Seaweed from the Philippines has Anti-Cancer Properties

The seaweed also has anti-ageing properties.

Generations of Filipinos have been munching on a salty delicacy from the ocean, not knowing it could hold the key to curing cancer. Pukpuklo is one of the local names of a seaweed prepared by washing and tossing it with sliced tomatoes.

Although pukpuklo has been a staple among Filipinos for many generations, the seaweed’s anti-cancer properties were only discovered in 2019 by scientists from the University of Santo Tomas (UST) led by Dr. Ross Dizon Vasquez. They found that simple sugars called polysaccharides found in the seaweed inhibit the growth of cancer cells.

Pukpukplo also has anti-ageing properties

Aside from its anti-cancer benefits, Vasquez’s team also discovered that the seaweed is also beneficial in regenerating skin cells. In a report published by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), Vasquez said that pukpuklo induced healthy skin growth and promoted faster healing of rat’s skin that was exposed to UVB radiation.

UVB (which stands for Ultraviolet B) is one of several types of ultraviolet radiation. UVA or Ultraviolet A penetrates deeper into the skin, causing wrinkles and skin damage, while UVB causes superficial sunburns and turns the skin red.

Because of its positive effects on the skin, the UST scientists are hopeful that pukpuklo could also be used to develop a sustainable anti-ageing compound. Plant-based cosmetic products derived from pukpuklo could range from sustainable sunscreens to facial masks.

The pukpuklo seaweed used in the research were collected in Ilocos Norte, Aklan, Iloilo, and Cagayan province. More research needs to be done to determine the medicinal value of the seaweed species.  

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Mario Alvaro Limos
Features Editor, Esquire Philippines
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