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Home > Newsletters > December 2003

Studies Show Preventive Value of Food Supplements

Common spices and herbs contain ingredients that may prevent the formation of major tumors, such as intestinal and prostate cancers, according to research presented at the American Association for Cancer Research's Second Annual International Conference on Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research. In particular, recent studies are showing notable cancer prevention potential for the use of ginger extract and a traditional Chinese medicinal herb.

Ginger May Prevent Colorectal Cancer

The ginger family has been used for thousands of years in the treatment and prevention of various illnesses and has been hypothesized to have anti-cancer and therapeutic properties. Ann M. Bode, Ph.D. and Zigang Dong, Ph.D., researchers at the Hormel Institute, University of Minnesota, recently determined that ginger compounds may be effective in preventing and potentially treating colorectal cancer. The theory was tested on human colorectal carcinoma cells (HCT116) in athymic nude mice, that were incapable of rejecting implanted human tumor cells. Prior to tumor cell injection, mice were fed either 500 micrograms of [6]-gingerol (the source of ginger's spiciness) or .001 percent ethanol in water (control) three times per week for two weeks. Following injection, the mice were fed the same ratios. Mice were weighed and tumors were measured by calipers twice each week.

Overall results showed that tumor development was significantly slower in those mice fed [6]-gingerol. The first measurable tumors were observed in both groups on day 15 after injection. However, the control group experienced 13 measurable tumors whereas the [6]-gingerol group reported only four measurable tumors. All mice in the control group developed tumors by day 28, as compared to day 38 for the [6]-gingerol group. Results showed that mice fed [6]-gingerol survived significantly longer than those receiving the control, implying that the tumors grew much slower in the first group. By day 49, all control mice contained tumors at least one cubic centimeter in size. By comparison, 11 mice in the [6]-gingerol group still had not developed tumors of that size.

Preliminary results also suggest that many of the tumors in the control group were invasive into the abdominal cavity, whereas the [6]-gingerol group appeared to be less invasive.
"These results strongly suggest that our hypothesis on the value of ginger is correct," said Dr. Bode, lead author of the study. "As we continue to study the spice in other tumor areas, we hope it will translate into significant anti-cancer properties for humans."

Chinese Medicinal Herb Slows Prostate Tumors in Mice

Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths among American men. The Chinese herb Scutellaria barbata (SB), a species related to mint of the Labiate family, has been used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat several illnesses, including cancers of the liver, lung and rectum. In another study, presented by researchers from Union College in Nebraska, SB was found to slow the progression of prostate tumors in mice, suggesting potential chemopreventive effects.

Transgenic adenocarcinoma of the mouse prostate (TRAMP) mimics tumor progression in human prostate cancer, and thus provides a relevant pre-clinical model for determining treatments and prevention techniques. In the study, researchers determined the extent of apoptosis (cell death) and necrosis (tissue death), as well as palpable tumor formation.

Mice were fed daily in random groups, either receiving sterile water as placebo or experimental doses of 8 milligrams and 16 milligrams of sterile SB aqueous extracts. In the placebo group, palpable tumors developed at 19 weeks of age, and by 32 weeks, all of the mice had palpable tumors. By comparison, 20 percent and 30 percent of the mice in the 8 mg and 16 mg SB groups, respectively, were free of tumors. At 27 weeks, fewer than 30 percent of the placebo animals were free of palpable tumors; in the low- and high-dose groups, 50 percent and 70 percent of the mice were tumor-free.

This Month's Articles

December 2003
Volume 1, Number 10

Studies Show Preventive Value of Food Supplements

Dampness and the Circle of Wellness

Michigan Employers Have More Options for Alternative Health Care Benefits

Recent Research

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