Researchers discover a natural food additive that blocks skin cancer cells

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food colouring_wikipedia_800x400By David Nield – Science Alert.

So much better than sunscreen.

Researchers have discovered some rather special properties in the natural food additive, annatto: properties that can block the development of certain skin cancer cells in mice.

It would appear that annatto – which was used by ancient tribes as body paint, but is now more likely to be found as food colouring – contains a compound that prevents the formation of cancer cells caused by ultraviolet radiation. The compound in question is called bixin, and it was discovered as part of tests looking for molecules to activate the body’s Nrf2 pathway, which helps strengthen human cells against exposure to carcinogens.

Once the discovery was made by a team from the University of Arizona College of Pharmacy, tests were begun on mice in the laboratory. The animals that were injected with bixin showed much less of a reaction to UV radiation than those that weren’t, which supports the theory that the compound blocks skin cancer cells in some way.

melanoma oncology news australiaGeorg Wondrak, who headed up the study, believes it induces cells to produce protective antioxidants and repair factors – cancerous cells are prevented from forming in the first place, rather than coming under attack once they exist. “[I]f you suppress sunburn, you can prevent the formation of cancer. That’s the rationale,” Wondrak told Barbara Grijalva at Tucson News.

The next step is of course to see if the same effect can be reproduced in humans…read the full article.


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The ONA Editor curates oncology news, views and reviews from Australia and around the world for our readers. In aggregated content, original sources will be acknowledged in the article footer.

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