Scientists peel away the mystery and discover that tangerines can help battle against cancer.
New research has found that tangerine peel contains a compound which can kill certain human cancer cells.
The discovery comes after scientists previously identified the curry spice turmeric and even cabbage as having anti-cancer properties.
The latest research by the Leicester School of Pharmacy, which will be presented at the British Pharmaceutical Conference in Manchester today, showed that human cancer cells, which contain an enzyme called P450 CYP1B1, were destroyed by a compound called Salvestrol Q40, contained in tangerine peel.
Salvestrol Q40 is found in the skin of fruits but is removed from the diet when fruit is eaten without its peel or is processed for fruit-based products such as fruit juice.
Dr Hoon L Tan, a medicinal chemist, said, "Salvestrols may offer a new mechanism of dietary anti-cancer action.
"The depletion of salvestrols in the modern diet is due to the fact that many people no longer eat the skin of fruits and this may be a major contributory factor to the increasing incidence of some cancers in the human population."
The researchers have formed a private company, Nature's Defence Investments, to protect and promote their research, with the potential of designing a natural anti-cancer alternative based on this new technology.
Dr Tan added, "It is very exciting to find a compound in food that can target cancers specifically. However, it is still early days and many tests will be needed before reaching the clinical trial stage."