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October 16, 2013
WASHINGTONA compound derived from cruciferous vegetables, such as cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli, may one day be used to protect cancer treatment patients from the lethal doses of radiation therapy, according to a new study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
Researchers at Georgetown University Medical Center (GUMC) conducted the study and found the compound, known as DIM (3,3-diindolylmethane), protected rats and mice from lethal doses of radiation. Their findings suggest the compound, already shown to be safe for humans, may protect normal tissues during radiation therapy for cancer treatment and prevent or mitigate sickness caused by radiation exposure.
DIM has been studied as a cancer prevention agent for years, but this is the first indication that DIM can also act as a radiation protector," said the studys corresponding author, Eliot Rosen, MD, PhD, of Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, a part of GUMC.
For the study, the researchers irradiated rats with lethal doses of gamma ray radiation. The animals were then treated with a daily injection of DIM for two weeks, starting 10 minutes after the radiation exposure. They found all of the untreated rats died, but well over half of the DIM-treated animals remained alive 30 days after the radiation exposure. DIM also provided protection whether the first injection was administered 24 hours before or up to 24 hours after radiation exposure.
We also showed that DIM protects the survival of lethally irradiated mice," Rosen says. In addition, irradiated mice treated with DIM had less reduction in red blood cells, white blood cells and plateletsside effects often seen in patients undergoing radiation treatment for cancer.
In 2012, research presented at the American Association for Cancer Researchs annual meeting suggested breast cancer survivors who eat a diet rich in cruciferous vegetables significantly boost their survival rates by as much as 62% compared to those who consume the least. Another study published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention in 2010 found eating broccoli, in particular raw broccoli, may increase bladder cancer survival. According to the researchers, the cruciferous vegetable is a great source of dietary isothiocyanates that provide an antiproliferative effect.
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