Antioxidants could provide all-purpose radiation protection

 

Findings from the AACR Centennial Conference on Translational Cancer Medicine: From Technology to Treatment Singapore, Nov. 4-8, 2007

 

SINGAPORE — Two common dietary molecules found in legumes and bran could protect DNA from the harmful effects of radiation, researchers from the University of Maryland report. Inositol and inositol hexaphosphate (IP6) protected both human skin cells and a skin cancer-prone mouse from exposure to ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation, the damaging radiation found in sunlight, the team reported today at the American Association for Cancer Research Centennial Conference on Translational Cancer Medicine.

 

According to the researchers, inositol and IP6 could decrease the severity of side effects from radiation therapy, saving healthy cells while simultaneously increasing the potency of the treatment against cancer cells. Both molecules are potent antioxidants, the Maryland researchers say, capable of preventing reactive molecules from injuring DNA and turning cells cancerous.

 

“Both of these potent antioxidants have been shown to have broad-spectrum anti-tumor capabilities, and now our studies confirm the degree to which these molecules protect against the DNA-damaging effects of ionizing radiation,” said Abulkalam M. Shamsuddin, M.D., professor of pathology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. “Radiation damage is radiation damage, regardless of the source, so there could also be a protective role for IP6 in any form of radiation exposure, whether it is from a therapeutic dose or from solar, cosmic or nuclear sources.”

 

“IP6 certainly has some interactivity with DNA, but how exactly it works to repair DNA is still something of a mystery. There are reports that IP6 binds with DNA repair molecule Ku to bring about the repair process,” Shamsuddin said. “More importantly, we still don’t know how IP6 can appear to help healthy cells live while also enhancing the ability of radiation to kill cancer cells.”

 

According to Shamsuddin, IP6 could also offer protection against accidents or purposeful incidents involving nuclear material. ”It could also be advisable to use IP6 plus inositol as a cautionary treatment following a nuclear disaster or dirty bomb,” Shamsuddin said.

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