Popular Food Component Linked To Skin Cancer

As reported by Medical News Today Chemical In Widely Consumed Foods Linked To Skin Cancer - The September , 2010 cover story of the nation's leading cancer journal, Cancer Research, features a new study from The Hormel Institute, University of Minnesota, that links capsaicin, a component of chili peppers, to skin cancer. While the molecular mechanisms of the cancer-promoting effects of capsaicin are not clear and remain controversial, The Hormel Institute has shown a definite connection to formation of skin cancer through various laboratory studies.

Ann Bode, professor in the institute's Cellular and Molecular Biology Research Section, led the research team on this study along with colleagues Mun Kyung Hwang and Zigang Dong.

Capsaicin, widely consumed worldwide in foods that contain chili peppers, is also used in topical creams for pain relief and its role in cancer development is controversial. Capsaicin has been shown to induce apoptosis (cell death) in cancer cells. However, research findings have also shown that it can also act as a carcinogen, especially at the tumor promotion stage.

Bode says the possibility that capsaicin induces inflammation and may affect cancer development is a critical result of the study. "Most notably, the results raise concerns that a natural compound found in hot peppers used in over-the-counter topical pain remedies might increase skin cancer risk," Bode says.

The study's key findings include:

 The co-carcinogenic effect of capsaicin appears to be mediated through the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) and not the transient receptor potential vanilloid subfamily member 1 (TRPV1), a known pain receptor.

 Topical application of capsaicin on the dorsal skin of wildtype or TRPV1 knockout mice induced tumors in both types but more and larger skin tumors in the knockout mice.

 A known inflammatory enzyme, cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) was highly elevated following treatment with capsaicin.

Other researchers working with Bode on this study included Sanguine Byun, Nu Ry Song, Hyong Joo Lee and Ki Won Lee. Funding for this research was provided by The Hormel Foundation, National Cancer Institute and the Korean Research Foundation.
Natural Agents May Prevent Skin Cancer

From Medical News Today 9/10 Plant Agents Show Promise In Preventing Skin Cancer

Maybe you worshipped the sun in your youth or weren't as meticulous as you should have been with sunscreen. If so, take heart: Scientists at The University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio are finding that certain plant substances, when given in combinations, may suppress damage that can cause skin cancer.

The substances, which occur naturally in grapes, berries, walnuts and a number of other plant-based foods, were tested on mice that had been genetically manipulated to be sensitive to skin cancer initiation and promotion/progression. Given in combination, even at low doses, the plant agents proved protective. "On the basis of our research, supplements and creams or sunscreens may be developed, tested in humans and then used to prevent skin cancer," said Zbigniew Walaszek, Ph.D., research associate professor of pharmacology at the Health Science Center.

The natural agents include resveratrol, found in the skin of red grapes, and grape seed extract. Others are calcium D-glucarate, a salt of D-glucaric acid, which is present in the human bloodstream and in many fruits and vegetables, and ellagic acid, found in a host of berries and in walnuts. Each of these compounds works in a different way, so giving them in combination is most protective. Scientists have administered the agents both topically and in the diet.

In one study, the team induced skin cancer by shaving the backs of rodents and applying a chemical that produces a genetic mutation. This was done twice a week for four weeks. At the same time, researchers applied topical resveratrol and fed the mice diets supplemented with various combinations of the plant substances.

The team evaluated several outcomes, including thickness in the outer layer of the skin. An increase in thickness indicates that precancerous cells are multiplying. Researchers also monitored mutations in Ha-ras, an oncogene that is a biomarker of cancer initiation, and inflammation, which is important in tumor promotion. Even low doses of plant agent combinations produced protective effects, while the plant substances given individually produced markedly less benefit.

Dr. Walaszek's colleague and wife, Margaret Hanausek, Ph.D., research associate professor of pharmacology, said the findings hold great potential for those most at risk for skin cancer and other cancers involving epithelial cells, including lung cancer. "The combined inhibitory effects of different plant chemicals are expected to be particularly beneficial to, for example, smokers, former smokers or individuals with heavily tanned skin, who carry thousands of cells already initiated for malignant transformation," Dr. Hanausek said.

Research scientist Magdalena Kowalczyk, Ph.D., agreed: "Described combinations may be very useful in the prevention of skin cancer and other epithelial cancers in humans, achieving a high efficacy and potency with reduced side effects." The team continues to look for the best combinations of the natural agents in suppressing different events during skin cancer development, she said.

Researchers acknowledge that not all information - for example, effects on organs such as the lungs - can be gleaned from a skin cancer model. But they say it is an exciting start. "Our next step is to go to an ultraviolet B light model of skin cancer initiation and confirm our results," Dr. Walaszek said.
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Tanning & Natural Health News is a publication of Tan Plus /Essentials Of Life, Barclay Square, 350 Route 108, Somersworth, NH. This publication is designed for educational purposes only and is not intended to be presented as medical advice. Product statements made have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration.

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