October 15, 2013
Cruciferous Vegetable Compound Could Protect Against Radiation During Cancer Treatment
[ Watch the Video: Veggie Power During Radiation Treatment For Cancer ]
April Flowers for redOrbit.com - Your Universe OnlineA compound derived from cruciferous vegetables - like cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli - has been shown to protect rats and mice from lethal doses of radiation, according to a new study from Georgetown University Medical Center.
Previous studies have shown that the compound, known as DIM (3,3'-diindolylmethane), has been found to have cancer-preventative properties.
The new findings, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggest that the compound may protect normal tissues during radiation therapy for cancer treatment and might also prevent or mitigate sickness caused by radiation exposure.
"DIM has been studied as a cancer prevention agent for years, but this is the first indication that DIM can also act as a radiation protector," says Eliot Rosen, MD, PhD, of Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center.
The research team irradiated rats with lethal doses of gamma ray radiation, then treated them with a daily injection of DIM for two weeks. These injections started 10 minutes after the radiation exposure.
Rosen, a professor of oncology, biochemistry and cell & molecular biology, and radiation medicine, said the result was stunning. "All of the untreated rats died, but well over half of the DIM-treated animals remained alive 30 days after the radiation exposure."
The researchers found that DIM provided protection whether the first injection was administered 24 hours before or up to 24 hours after radiation exposure.
"We also showed that DIM protects the survival of lethally irradiated mice," Rosen says. They also found that irradiated mice treated with DIM had far less reduction in red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets. These are all side effects often seen in patients undergoing radiation treatment for cancer.
The study indicates two possible future uses for DIM. "DIM could protect normal tissues in patients receiving radiation therapy for cancer, but could also protect individuals from the lethal consequences of a nuclear disaster."
Georgetown University has filed a patent application, in which Rosen and his collaborators are co-inventors. The patent is related to the usage of DIM and DIM-related compounds as radioprotectors.