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August 26, 2011

Saffron prevents liver cancer in animal model

Saffron prevents liver cancer in animal model

In the September, 2011 issue of the journal Hepatology, researchers from United Arab Emirates University report a protective effect for saffron, a spice that imparts a yellow color to food, against cancer of the liver in rats.

For their experiment, Amr Amin and colleagues divided 48 rats into six groups. Liver tumors were induced in four of the groups by the administration of diethylnitrosamine (DEN), a potent carcinogen. While one group of animals given DEN received no additional treatment, the three other groups received varying doses of saffron beginning two weeks prior to injection with the carcinogen and continuing for an additional 20 weeks. Control rats that were not treated with DEN were given distilled water or 300 mg/kg saffron throughout the course of the study.

Among rats that received the carcinogen, fewer of the saffron-treated animals had liver masses at the end of the treatment period in comparison with rats that were not pretreated, and the number of nodules detected was lower. No nodules were found in any of the rats that received the highest dose of saffron. Saffron also reduced liver enlargement and elevation of liver enzymes in the animals that received it. In separate experiments in cultured liver cancer cells, the administration of saffron was shown to arrest growth and increase programmed cell death.

While administration of DEN increased markers of oxidative stress, treatment with saffron lowered these markers while increasing antioxidant enzymes. Additionally, saffron was associated with down-regulation of inflammatory markers.

"In the fight against cancer, there has been much interest in chemopreventive properties of natural herbs and plants," Professor Amin stated. "With limited treatment options, approaches that prevent cancer development are among the best strategies to protect against the disease."

"Our findings suggest that saffron provides an anticancer protective effect by promoting cell death (apoptosis), inhibiting proliferation of cancerous cells, and blocking inflammation," he concluded. "Further investigation of saffron extract and its mechanism of action in hepatic cell cancer is currently underway."

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Health Concern Life Extension Highlight

Hepatitis C

Up to 4 million Americans are chronically infected with the hepatitis C virus. About 20 percent of these people will develop cirrhosis of the liver, possibly followed by liver cancer. Hepatitis C is the most common cause of liver transplant in the United States.

Hepatitis C is an insidious viral disease because most people are unaware of their initial infection. Instead, the acute phase usually passes with minimal symptoms before turning into chronic hepatitis C infection. Many people have the disease for decades before it is diagnosed. Often people are diagnosed with chronic hepatitis C as a result of blood work performed for other medical conditions.

Chronic hepatitis C is dangerous because the virus causes high levels of free radicals to form in the liver. These free radicals put serious oxidative stress on the liver, which depletes protective antioxidants in the liver and eventually kills the liver cells. The disease is characterized by periods of fluctuating liver damage, with flare-ups of acute hepatitis over the course of the infection. Over time, this steady attack on the liver causes scar tissue (fibrosis), which can lead to cirrhosis if left untreated.

The following supplements have been shown to reduce liver oxidative damage, lower iron, and boost the effectiveness of conventional drugs:

  • Calcium citrate—1000 to 2000 milligrams (mg) daily with iron-containing foods to block iron absorption
  • Lactoferrin—900 mg daily, to block iron, in divided doses
  • Lipoic acid—750 mg in three divided doses daily
  • NAC—600 mg daily
  • Whey protein isolate—20 to 40 grams (g) daily
  • Glutathione—500 mg daily, on an empty stomach
  • Silibinin extract—900 mg daily, in two divided doses
  • SAMe—1200 mg daily, in three divided doses
  • PPC—1800 to 3600 mg daily
  • Green tea extract (93 percent polyphenols)—750 mg daily
  • Garlic (high allicin)—900 mg daily
  • Aged garlic extract (Kyolic®)—1200 mg daily
  • Selenium—200 to 600 micrograms (mcg) daily
  • Vitamin E—400 international units (IU) daily with at least 200 mg gamma tocopherol
  • Vitamin C—2000 mg daily (on an empty stomach to minimize the increased iron absorption caused by vitamin C)

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Life Extension Magazine September 2011

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Why don't more wealthy people fund aging research?
By Aubrey de Grey , PhD
Aubrey de Grey describes how regenerative medicine may rejuvenate the human body and postpone aging indefinitely. Aubrey summarizes where this science stands and explains why more wealthy people are not funding research aimed at reversing aging processes.

Programming genes to extend life span, by Charles Platt
Avant-garde scientists talk about the latest strategies for reprogramming genes and boosting longevity.

Research funded by Life Extension® could lead to therapies that reverse human aging
Age-related mitochondrial decay in turn lies at the core of most degenerative diseases. Lipoic acid may induce a profound regeneration of these cellular powerhouses, thwarting the onset of cancer, heart disease, and more.

New initiative to accelerate antiaging research
An ambitious and novel plan is launched that presents research projects to interested parties via email for the purpose of rapidly raising funds to find an aging cure.

Reducing the risks of high cortisol, by Jan Whiticomb
A low-cost supplement called rhodiola combats cortisol's lethal effects.

Protect your body against today's toxic deluge,
by Philip Domenico, PhD and Carey Monserrate
The liver-protective silymarin complex contained in extracts of milk thistle may halt and even reverse externally induced liver damage.

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