Chemical found in plants helps prevent lung cancer

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According to the results of an animal study, it is suggested that treatment with a chemical found in various plants, may help prevent lung cancer caused by cigarette smoking.

Dr Ho-Young Lee, from the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Centre in Houston, and colleagues, treated three groups of mice with cancer-causing agents found in cigarette smoke for eight weeks.

One group was treated with deguelin a chemical found in plants at the same time, another was treated with deguelin afterward, and the third group received no deguelin.

The animals were sacrificed and examined at week 20.

It was found that animals in all three groups developed lung tumours, but that giving deguelin afterward reduced the number of tumours, while deguelin given at the same time as the cancer-causing chemicals led to a marked reduction in the number of tumours.

Apparently there are concerns that high doses of deguelin may be toxic to the heart, lungs, and nerves, but the authors observed no major side effects with the doses used in their study.

Lee's team believes the results indicate that deguelin warrants consideration as a preventive agent for early-stage lung cancer in human studies.

The research is published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

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