Dr. Brian Issell, internist, oncologist and clinical sciences program director at the University of Hawaii cancer center, is principal investigator of the study, which began in 2001.
The noni plant was used in traditional healing throughout Polynesia and is being promoted worldwide for all kinds of health problems and diseases.
"It's a $2 billion product with incredible commercialization," Issell
said."We need to know if it helps more than harms people."His
study is the first to look at the effects of noni on people and see if it does what ads claim.
"We've seen pretty much improvements across the board when we look statistically, but these are early days," Issell
said."It's not telling us it's going to help more than harm people, but what dose we will test in the future."
The team, including Faith Inoshita, clinical research nurse, is trying to complete the first phase of the study to find the right dose that will be effective for people, Issell
"We have been seeing increasing improvement in quality of life measures," Issell
said."It's very interesting.
"We're measuring different markers," Issell
said."Once we have something we can feel confident about, we will use it to standardize noni because there are hundreds of different products now from juice, with additional things to mask the dose."
Noni Maui is providing fruit grown on the Big Island for the study, which requires a consistent supply, Issell
said: "We have quite a lot of capsules and will continue up to 40 (per day) if we need to."
The first phase of the study began with National Institutes of Health funding and it is continuing with support from the Hawaii Community Foundation
said the issue with cancer drugs is to find the maximum tolerated dose that's most likely to have an anti-cancer effect.
"Here, we haven't found the maximum-tolerated dose," he
gets inquiries about noni from all over the world, Gotay pointed out: "That's partly why we are so cautious.