Supplement reduces risk of aflatoxin-related liver cancer

CORVALLIS, Ore. A new clinical study has found that inexpensive daily supplements of chlorophyllin can greatly reduce the DNA damage caused by aflatoxin contamination in the diet, and could provide a practical way to prevent thousands of cases of liver cancer in some parts of the world.

The research was recently completed in China by scientists from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Oregon State University, and published today in the professional journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Chlorophyllin is a derivative of the natural chlorophyll found in green vegetables and commonly available as a dietary supplement. Aflatoxins, which are known carcinogens, are produced by a fungus that is a contaminant of grains such as corn, peanuts and soybeans. Levels of aflatoxin are carefully regulated in the United States but are often far higher in the food supply of many developing nations and are known to cause liver cancer, especially in concert with other health problems such as hepatitis.

"In the area of China in which we did our study about one in 10 adults die from liver cancer, and it's the third leading cause of cancer deaths worldwide," said George Bailey, a distinguished professor of environmental and molecular toxicology at OSU. "The findings of this research could be enormously important to many areas of China, Southeast Asia and Africa where aflatoxin-related liver cancer is a real concern. Many of these deaths might be preventable with supplements that cost pennies a day."

The double-blind study was directed by Thomas Kensler, a professor of environmental health sciences at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. In it, 180 healthy adults participated from Qidong, China, a region with extraordinarily high rates of liver cancer, due in part to a diet that has high levels of carcinogenic aflatoxins. Half the study participants were given 100 milligram tablets of chlorophyllin to t

Contact: George Bailey
Oregon State University

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