A potential natural treatment for breast cancer
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,
...and more exotic
antioxidants such as phytopheophylin and phlorotannins.
According to the
researchers, this dose is equivalent to giving a 50 kg woman an 800
mg tablet of the seaweed extract.
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.
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.
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.