Seaweed may be cancer-fighting
Sun, 28 Oct 2012 6:19p.m.
By Susie Nordqvist
New Zealand scientists say one of the world's most invasive species of seaweed, undaria, could help in the fight against cancer.
All the money in the world couldn't save Steve Jobs from pancreatic cancer.
But researchers at the Auckland University of Technology say the discovery of a compound in a noxious seaweed might one day help others who are battling the disease.
”There's a reasonable amount of evidence that seaweed consumption, particularly in Asia, is in some way is correlated with some cancers, or the lack of some cancers,” says AUT marine biologist Lindsay White.
Undaria is a daily staple in the diets of Koreans and the Japanese.
But in New Zealand it's regarded as an unwanted organism. It was accidentally introduced into our waters from Asia in the 1980s.
“It's actually rated as one of the top 100 invasive species on the planet,” says Dr White. “It's invasive because when it gets to a place it spreads quite quickly.”
Tens of thousands of tonnes of undaria are growing on the lines of commercial mussel farms across New Zealand.
But scientists here are hopeful it could become even more of a resource than the mussels.
They've discovered a bioactive compound in the seaweed's reproductive organ, which inhibits the growth of cancer cells.
“We screened quite a lot of cancer cell lines, and it seemed to be working on a number of them,” says AUT pharmacologist Dr Jun Lu. “Our particular interest will be in pancreatic cancer because that is a very, very nasty cancer, as we all know.”
Pancretic cancer kills more than 400 New Zealanders every year, and half die within six months of being diagnosed. They have the lowest survival rate, with less than 10 percent of patients alive five years after diagnosis.
“Even something that could extend that would be particularly valuable,” says Dr White. “Even if it wasn't a cure, just extending that would be tremendous for a lot of families.”
“If we can find health products out of that or even drugs out of that, it will be a multi-billion dollar industry,” says Dr Lu.
But even then it could be another 10 years before we see the health and economic benefits.
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1/11/2012 11:45:13 p.m.
I just DON'T drink the Fluoridated water after the Harvard reports on IQ lowering fluoridated water.
30/10/2012 11:39:48 a.m.
Undaria is old news - it has been used for years to assist the immune system - Mannatech.com have been selling it as a health supplement for about 3 years. They had been doing their research on it for years before that.
29/10/2012 6:18:56 p.m.
Ok Who didn't know that a healthy diet can prevent cancer? Come on guys its not a cancer fighter or cancer cure its simply giving our body's what they need and are lacking to ensure we have healthy cells. And this seaweed is only the tip of the ice burg of 1000's of amazing nutrients that all of us a lacking.
29/10/2012 9:14:24 a.m.
I've seen a handful of cancer cures through the news over the past 10 years... and I only keep hearing new ones. Have the others been brushed under the carpet?
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