Winter cherry plant extract, may hold promise as a new treatment for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

UK study says plant extract shows promise against non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma

A University of Kentucky study shows that withaferin A, a component of Withania somnifera (winter cherry) plant extract, may hold promise as a new treatment for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Winter cherry extract was used in traditional Ayurvedic Indian medicine for thousands of years before it caught the interest of Subbarao Bondada, a University of Kentucky College of Medicine professor and researcher for the UK Markey Cancer Center. Because withaferin A shows promise in treating other cancers without the side effects associated with current treatments, Bondada’s laboratory tested it against lymphoma. Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is one of the most common cancers in the U.S. and is known for being particularly aggressive.

Unlike other studies using withaferin A to treat cancer, Bondada’s study, published in the journal Cancer Biology and Therapy, is the first to test the chemical against a blood cancer. Previous studies using withaferin A focused on cancers producing tumors that grow as a mass in tissue, more commonly known as solid tumors.

Katie McKenna, a graduate student in Bondada’s laboratory, found that withaferin A prevented the lymphoma cells from dividing and ultimately killed them. Specifically, they found withaferin A directly targeted a signaling pathway in the cancer it needs to survive.

“It may be possible to develop orally administered versions of withaferin A that could be used in lymphoma patients with fewer side effects than current chemotherapy regimens,” Bondada said.

Because withaferin A shows promise in treating non-Hodgkin lymphoma, Bondada’s team is now testing the chemical on chronic lymphocytic leukemia cells.

Bondada’s group collaborated with University of Louisville Professor Ramesh Gupta, who aided in the isolation of withaferin A.

This work was funded by the National Cancer Institute to the UK Markey Cancer Center, the National Institutes of Health, Office of Vice President for Research for Core Research facilities and the Sabinsa Corporation and does not necessarily represent the views of these institutions.


Turmeric – for color, flavor and health!

Adding new flavors and seasonings to our foods can pull us out of a flavor rut, jolt tired taste buds and offer healthful benefits.

Turmeric, a spice found often in Middle Eastern dishes, brightens with both color and flavor.  Its yellow color comes from the component in the spice called curcumin, a polyphenol, or type of antioxidant – and one that is being studied for its possible anticancer properties and anti-inflammatory effects. Research is also exploring the role curcumin may play in inhibition of tumor cell growth.

Turmeric is available at most grocery stores and can be used in many entrees and side dishes for a unique flavor with orange and ginger hints. Try this recipe for a change of pace, and hold the cayenne if you don’t like it spicy!  Try serving it with a side of whole grain rice or a green salad.

Shrimp with Mango & Basil

From Eating Well:  February/March 2005, The Eating Well Healthy in a Hurry Cookbook (2006)

Makes: 4 servings, 1 cup each
Active Time: 15 minutes (if using peeled shrimp)
Total Time: 45 minutes


  • 1 pound raw shrimp, (21-25 per pound), peeled and deveined, tails left on
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large ripe, firm mango, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (see Tip)
  • 1 bunch scallions, green tops only, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup firmly packed fresh basil leaves, finely chopped


  1. Toss shrimp with salt, cayenne to taste and turmeric in a medium bowl. Cover; refrigerate for about 30 minutes.
  2. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat; place the shrimp in a single layer and cook until the undersides turn salmon-pink, about 1 minute. Flip them over and cook for 1 minute more.
  3. Add mango, scallion greens and basil and cook, stirring, until the shrimp is just cooked and starts to barely curl, 1 to 2 minutes.


Per serving: 183 calories; 5 g fat (1 g saturated fat, 3 g monounsaturated fat); 168 mg cholesterol; 16 g carbohydrates; 0 g added sugars; 20 g protein; 3 g fiber; 352 mg sodium; 478 mg potassium.

Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin C (57% daily value), Vitamin A (30% daily value), Iron (20% daily value).

Join us Aug. 26 for a smoothie demonstration

Smoothie Day — Aug. 26

Join us at 1 p.m., Wednesday, Aug. 26 for a smoothie demonstration and free samples! This is a free event.

Learn how to make a healthy and delicious smoothie, while trying tasty samples.

Location: 306 Whitney-Hendrickson Building, Psych-Oncology Services


Adolescent health care plan should include HPV vaccine

For women younger than 40, cervical cancer is among the leading causes of cancer-related death. With modern vaccines to protect against the underlying cause, human papilloma virus (HPV), cervical cancer is also one of the most preventable types of cancers.

As a society, we have the opportunity to wipe out or significantly reduce a disease by vaccinating the population. Still, many American health care providers and families aren’t getting their children and teens vaccinated, and our youth are suffering the consequences.

Cervical cancer, as well as cancers of the throat, penis, rectum, vulva and mouth, can develop from changes in cells caused by HPV. Since the FDA approved the first versions of the HPV vaccine in 2006, nearly 7 billion doses have been administered worldwide. HPV continues to spread because of a national resistance to accepting the vaccine as part of standard preventive care.

Because of social stigmas surrounding HPV vaccinations, only around 30 percent of men and women under the age of 25 have been vaccinated in both Kentucky and nationwide. Only 27 percent of women between the ages 13 to 17 have received the recommended dosages of the HPV vaccine. Many health care providers and parents view these vaccinations as elective or irrelevant unless a youth is sexually active. In reality, HPV can be transmitted a number of ways, including from a mother to a child during delivery. Statistics show most people will contract one form of the virus at some point in their lives.

Until 2014, the two vaccination options were Gardasil 4 and Cervarix, both of which protect against HPV strains 16 and 18 or the strains responsible for 70 percent of cervical cancers and Gardasil 4 also protects against 90 percent of genital warts (Strains 6 & 11). Last year, Gardasil 9 entered the market targeting strains 16 and 18, as well as five additional strains, covering HPV types responsible for almost 90 percent of cervical cancers. The vaccine also protects against HPV strains 6 and 11, which cause genital warts.

Parents and adolescent providers must seize the opportunity to vaccinate their youth before infection occurs. Countries that provided massive free vaccination such as Australia have experienced a 70 percent drop in cervical cancer rates, as well as other cancers associated with HPV.

Next time you visit your pediatrician or adolescent health provider, insist on including an HPV vaccine in your child’s preventive health care plan. Both boys and girls should be vaccinated. The vaccine is safe and effective, and prevents 70 to 90 percent of the disease. As a parent, doing everything in your capacity to protect your child from harm means making the decision to get the HPV vaccine — the only certain way to prevent these forms of cancer.

Dr. Hatim Omar

Dr. Hatim Omar

Dr. Hatim Omar is the chief of the Division of Adolescent Medicine at Kentucky Children’s Hospital.

Drs. Evers, Smyth discuss personalized medicine

The past decade, Dr. Mark Evers says, has been a revolution.

Thanks to advances in personalized medicine over the past 10 years, Evers says patients today receive treatments that are better tailored to their genetic makeup and specific medical history. Evers, the director of the UK Markey Cancer Center, along with Dr. Susan Smyth, director of the Gill Heart Institute, appeared Sunday on KET’s One to One to discuss personalized medicine.

“Really it has been the last 10 years, I would say, that the revolution has occurred,” Evers said. “I’ve been in this business treating patients for 20 years and now is such an exciting time to be practicing medicine, to be doing research.”

In a wide-ranging conversation with KET’s Bill Goodman, Evers and Smyth discussed how personalized medicine is changing the landscape of cancer and cardiovascular treatments.

Check out some highlights from the interview and be sure to watch full video below.

Smyth on defining personalized medicine

Personalized or precision medicine really means taking as much information about one individual as possible to be able to tailor specific treatments or preventative strategies toward them. So it’s taking their genetic information, taking information from environmental exposures they may have had and putting all of that together in a package that really chooses for that one particular person a best treatment or preventive strategy.

Evers on the pace of personalized treatment advances

I’ve been in this business treating patients for 20 years and now is such an exciting time to be practicing medicine, to be doing research. Because 20 years ago, if a 35-year-old lady came in with colon cancer, she’d be treated the same way as an 85-year-old gentleman. We were very limited in terms of drugs, but it’s only been within the last 10 years, I would say, that there’s been an explosion of techniques, technologies that really have allowed us to … identify biomarkers to be able to treat patients differently.

Drs. Mark Evers, Susan Smyth set to appear on KET on Sunday

UK HealthCare’s Dr. Mark Evers and Dr. Susan Smyth will appear on KET’s One To One with Bill Goodman on Sunday afternoon.

Evers, the director of the Markey Cancer Center, and Smyth, the director of the Gill Heart Institute, will discuss personalized medicine using genomics.

Tune in at 1 p.m. on Sunday, and check back here on Monday for a recap.

Cooking Demonstration!

Join us for a FREE cooking demonstration, featuring:

Head Chef Jason Ritchey from The Villiage Idiot 

Wednesday, July 8 from 11am-12pm

306 Whitney-Hendrickson Building at the UK Markey Cancer Center


A free program, open to the public. Watch and learn how to make something tasty at home, and sample it! No reservations necessary.

June 24 is smoothie day at UK HealthCare

Smoothie day — June 24

Join us at 1 p.m., Wednesday, June 24 for a smoothie demonstration and free samples!

Learn how to make a healthy and delicious smoothie, while trying tasty samples.

Location: 306 Whitney-Hendrickson Building, Psych-Oncology Services

Markey Menu offers tips for summer gardening

Summer gardening

It’s not too late to cultivate!

Planting your own herbs and vegetables can be nutritious and inexpensive – as well as therapeutic. It doesn’t have to even be challenging. Try growing some low-maintenance herbs such as basil, parsley and chives; then, use them to spice up your dishes for extra flavor and nutritional benefits of phytochemicals. You can even grow them inside in a sunny window and use them all summer long!

For more ideas, try your green thumb at these suggestions from the American Institute of Cancer Research.

Strawberry Mango Feta Toast Points

Diced strawberries, mango and fat free feta cheese provide the perfect balance of sweet, savory and tangy for these quick and colorful lunch or brunch toast points.

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Serves: 4


  • 1 ripe mango, divided
  • 2 cups strawberries, divided
  • ¼ cup fresh basil, plus 2 tbsp for topping
  • ½ cup fat free feta cheese crumbles
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 slices whole-wheat bread


  1. Peel and pit mango. Dice ¾ of mango and ¾ of strawberries; place in large bowl with feta cheese. Put remaining fruit, ¼ cup basil, vinegar and oil in a blender and blend.
  2. Pour blended vinaigrette over fruit-feta mix and toss gently.
  3. Chop remaining basil leaves.
  4. Toast bread slices and cut each slice diagonally.
  5. Top toast points with dressed fruit-feta mix and chopped basil.

Recipe from

Taking care of yourself: Staying healthy and other tasty tips

Written by guest blogger: Siddhi Shroff, University of Kentucky Dietetic Intern

Spring is here!  Beautiful blossoms, green landscapes and warmer temperatures remind us of the renewal that the season brings: It’s also a good time to remember to take care of ourselves by renewing resolutions to take better care of ourselves.

Get screened

You can reduce your cancer risk by getting regular screenings. Early detection can help to identify and to remove cancerous growths in the early stages. Treatment is more likely to be a success if cancer is caught at an earlier stage for breast, colon, rectum, cervix, prostate and skin cancers. Talk to your doctor about screenings and how often you should be getting them. You can also see the current guidelines for screenings on the American Cancer Society website.

Don’t smoke

One of the best things you can do to reduce cancer risk is never smoke or to quit smoking. This includes cigarettes, cigars, secondhand smoke and even smokeless tobacco use. Tobacco use is responsible for one in five deaths; cigarette smoking accounts for about 30 percent of cancer deaths and is associated with an increased risk to many cancers. For help to quit smoking and tobacco use, you can find more information here.

Stay active

Regardless of your age, it is important to stay active! Adults should get at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity a week, or 75 minutes of vigorous activity per week. Teens and children should get around one hour of vigorous or moderate activities each day, with at least three of these days including vigorous activities. Not only will you look good, but you will feel even better and also save some money on health care costs in the process!

For exercise tips or ideas to burn those calories, go here.

Safety in the sun

When you are going outside, take steps to protect yourself from the sun’s harmful UV rays. Increased exposure to UV rays is linked to an increased risk for skin cancer. Make sure you are protecting your skin every time you step outside by remembering Slip, Slop, Slap, and Wrap! :

  1. Slip on a shirt.
  2. Slop on some sunscreen.
  3. Slap on a hat.
  4. Wrap on sunglasses to protect eyes.

Once you’ve got this down, you’re good to go!

Eat healthy

Maintaining a balanced, nutritious diet is key to overall health, can help reduce risk for cancer and is even essential throughout cancer treatment, too. A balanced and nutritious diet is one that includes lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, lean meats and also limits fats. Limit or avoid alcoholic beverages, as alcohol has been linked to several cancers.  A few recipes that fall within these guidelines are included below, like the Greek Chicken entrée, and more are available on many sites such as the American Cancer Society and Cook For Your Life, among many others.


Greek Chicken With Tomatoes, Peppers, Olives and Feta

The Greek Chicken with tomatoes, peppers, olives and feta is a great recipe because it uses lean meat, has a decent serving of vegetables, and even includes some low-fat dairy with the feta cheese. Enjoy as an entrée! Serves: 8

To make Greek seasoning salt, combine: 

  • 2 teaspoons of garlic salt,
  • 2 teaspoons of lemon pepper,
  • 2 teaspoons of oregano, and
  • 2 teaspoons of dried mint.


  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 8 teaspoons Greek seasoning salt, divided
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 large onion, sliced lengthwise
  • 1 green pepper, cored, seeded, and sliced lengthwise into strips
  • 3 Roma tomatoes, cut into eighths
  • 3 tablespoons Kalamata olives, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons feta cheese, crumbled


  1. Dredge chicken in flour mixed with 4 teaspoons of Greek seasoning.
  2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat and add chicken, sautéing for 3 to 4 minutes until cooked through.
  3. Remove chicken from pan and set aside.
  4. Add onion to skillet and sauté until tender, about 2 minutes. Add bell pepper and cook another 2 minutes.
  5. Return chicken to skillet and cook 1 to 2 minutes, sprinkling with remaining Greek seasoning. Mix in tomatoes.
  6. Remove from heat, transfer to serving dish, and sprinkle with olives and feta cheese.

Per Serving (approximate)

Calories: 210

Fat: 9.5 grams

Recipe source: American Cancer Society website

Creamy Chocolate Cheesecake With Sliced Strawberries

You’re probably thinking: wait, I can have my (cheese) cake and eat it too, and it still be part of a balanced nutritious diet?! You sure can! And it is guilt-free when it is made with non-fat and low-fat dairy, like the non-fat yogurt, low-fat cream cheese, and part-skim ricotta. An added bonus is that the strawberry garnish also sneaks some fruit into the mix. Enjoy! Makes 8 slices


  • 1 cup nonfat plain yogurt
  • 4 ounces low-fat cream cheese
  • ¼ cup part-skim ricotta cheese
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon Kahlua
  • ½ pint strawberries
  • Nonfat cooking spray


  1. Preheat oven to 350º.
  2. Coat an 8 x 8-inch pan with nonfat cooking spray.
  3. Puree in blender the yogurt, cream cheese, ricotta cheese, maple syrup, cocoa, egg whites, cinnamon, and Kahlua. Pour in pan.
  4. Bake cake for 50 minutes or until done. Let cool and decorate with slices of strawberries.

Per Serving (approximate)

Calories: 98

Total Fat: 4 grams

Recipe source: American Cancer Society website