All those chocolate commercials with women lounging in a bath and luxuriantly eating chocolate may get a different spin. Turns out compounds in cacao could be a powerful treatment for the sexually-transmitted disease HPV.

Chocolate has been considered a delicious, addictive food for for a long time. The Latin name for the tree that produces cocoa is Theobroma Cacao, so clearly people knew early on that they'd hit on something special. Since then, chocolate has been the central theme in Cathy comics, a massively profitable industry, and the subject of a long series of commercials in which liquid fudge is poured in slow motion while people make ecstatic faces.


Turns out that those commercials may be underestimating the value of chocolate.

Chocolate is rich in antioxidants, molecules that bond with oxygen compounds which would otherwise rip into proteins, fats or DNA in the body. It has alkaloids, which animals often use to create neurotransmitters. And it has epicatechin oligomers, which biotech startup Cacao Biotechnologies has developed into an antiviral specifically meant to fight HPV. The treatment is scheduled to start clinical trials in six to nine months. Should it prove effective, chocolate producers may want to rethink the whole "chocolate is sexy" thing.


Via Nature Genetics and WiseGeek.

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