Chemoprevention backgrounder: Working for a future of cancer chemoprevention

o effect of vitamin E on lung cancer rates, but prostate cancer incidence fell.

Data from cell and animal studies also suggests that selenium "may slow the progression of subclinical prostate cancer, which is equivalent to prevention," says Lippman.

Not only is Lippman a national coordinator of SELECT, but he also serves as M. D. Anderson's principal investigator on a newly created consortium of six research centers that are working together on cancer prevention. The National Cancer Institute's Division of Cancer Prevention recently devoted $42 million to the group, directing them to work as hard and fast as they can on the development of cancer preventive compounds.

Projects funded by the consortium cover the spectrum of cancers and are designed to quickly test the cancer preventive potential of new agents. But several of the first studies launched at M. D. Anderson are looking at very old remedies.

Arun, for example, is intrigued by the Far Eastern spice turmeric (also known as curcumin), which has demonstrated anti-cancer properties in laboratory and animal studies of lung, colon and breast cancer conducted by Bharat Aggarwal, M.D., a professor in the department of Bioimmunotherapy Research. "This Far Eastern spice, one of the main ingredients of curry, has been used medicinally and as a food for centuries, and has no side effects, which makes it an ideal chemoprevention agent," says Arun. "We are finding curcumin can suppress markers of cell proliferation."

And Vassiliki Papadimitrakopoulou, M.D., an associate professor in the Department of Thoracic/Head & Neck Medical Oncology, is testing whether the active substance contained in green tea, epigallocatechin gallate, can act like an anti-cancer drug, stopping precancerous lesions in the mouth and throat from morphing into tumors.

Green tea has long been suspected of having beneficial health effects, based on decades of research conducted in China, Southeast Asi

Contact: Nancy Jensen
University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center

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