(NaturalNews) The extract of an edible red seaweed was found to be 27 percent more effective than standard chemo in shrinking breast tumors in rats while showing much less toxicity to liver and kidneys, and even improving the rats' antioxidant status in both blood and tissues.
Eucheuma cottoni - A potential natural treatment for breast cancer
The seaweed used in this remarkable study was Eucheuma cottonii L., an edible, tropical red seaweed which grows naturally within about 20 degrees of the equator and is most commonly found around Southeast Asia. The Euchema group of seaweeds is already widely commercially farmed for use in the production of carrageenan. Researchers at the University Putra Malaysia harvested the seaweed from the coastal waters of North Borneo during January. The seaweed was shade dried for three days and extracted using an 80 percent ethanol solution which was then evaporated to leave a dry powder extract. The extract was found to be rich in iodine, quercetin, catechin, rutin, carotenoids, and more exotic antioxidants such as phytopheophylin and phlorotannins.
To test the extract against breast cancer, Sprague-Dawley rats were injected with LA-7 breast cancer cells and divided into three groups: one group was not treated at all, the second was treated with the most commonly used breast cancer chemo drug at 10 mg/kg body weight, and the third group was treated with the seaweed extract at 100 mg/kg body weight. According to the researchers, this dose is equivalent to giving a 50 kg woman an 800 mg tablet of the seaweed extract.
27 percent more effective than chemo while improving antioxidant status
Rats treated with the chemo drug for four weeks showed a 71 percent decrease in the size of their tumors, but those treated with the seaweed extract had their tumors shrink by 91 percent - an improvement of 27 percent over chemo. The chemo drug also caused significant toxicity to the rats' kidneys and livers, causing visible lesions on those organs. Not only did the seaweed show no toxicity (no liver or kidney lesions), it actually improved the rats' antioxidant status. MDA (malondialdehyde) is a key marker of oxidative stress, with higher MDA levels indicating increased oxidative damage (MDA levels often rise with cancer). Treatment with the chemo drug decreased rats' MDA levels by 27 percent, but again, the seaweed performed better and decreased MDA levels by 46 percent. Conversely, an important marker of antioxidant status is the glutathione level in erythrocytes (red blood cells), with higher glutathione levels indicating improved antioxidant status. Chemo treated rats saw their levels drop by 57 percent. But glutathione levels actually increased by 78 percent in seaweed treated rats - showing a sizable advantage for antioxidant status.
Seaweed for cancer - an established history
Various seaweeds have been used for centuries in Chinese and Japanese traditional medicine against breast cancer. Epidemiological studies have also showed that daily seaweed consumption may dramatically lower breast cancer risk, and is considered one reason why Japanese women have 83 percent less breast cancer than those in the West. More recently, a clinical trial in the U.S. showed that just five grams per day of dried seaweed (Undaria) decreased levels of a key pro-cancer protein (uPAR) by 47 percent in postmenopausal women.
This new study provides yet more good science to the case for using seaweed against breast cancer. And while this latest seaweed still must be proven out in human patients, it is impressive that the effective dose is likely attainable in human patients, using the extract of a seaweed which has been routinely eaten by Malaysian locals for decades with apparently no ill effects.
About the author: Ethan Evers is author of the award-winning medical thriller "The Eden Prescription," in which cutting-edge researchers perfect an effective, all-natural treatment for cancer, only to be hunted down by pharmaceutical interests which will stop at nothing to protect their $80 billion cancer drug cash machine. The Eden Prescription is based on the latest science and draws on real historical events stretching back to the beginning of the "War on Cancer." Ethan has a PhD in Applied Science.
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