News & tips on health, fitness and nutrition

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Gene May Predict Lung Cancer in Smokers; Remedy May Prevent Cancer

Scientists say they’ve discovered a gene they believe sets off a series of pre-cancerous changes that could help predict which smokers will develop lung cancer.

They also say a natural substance may be able to reverse the chain-reaction before it develops into full-blown cancer.

The gene in question, P13K, affects the pathway of other genes and may activate the genetic changes that lead to lung cancer, Andrea Bild of the University of Utah, Avram Spira of Boston University and other colleagues report in their study published in the journal “Science Translational Medicine.”

Dr. Len Horovitz, a pulmonary specialist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, told AOL Health the study’s findings will allow doctors to look for dysplasia, or the abnormal growth of cells, which is often leads to cancer.

“Just the fact that you can identify the dysplasia is an enticing reason to test smokers for these genetic changes and try to get them to stop smoking before they develop lung cancer,” he said.

Lung cancer, which killed nearly 160,000 Americans last year, is the leading cause of cancer deaths. And smoking is the No. 1 cause of lung cancer -- although not all smokers will get it.

"Even for people who have stopped smoking, there's a significant risk of cancer down the road, and it would be nice to identify which patients are really at risk," Duke University lung cancer specialist Dr. Neal Ready told the Associated Press.

"To have some sort of molecular test that would identify those patients would be very useful."

Study researchers say PK13 can be found in the windpipes of smokers, meaning they do not need more dangerous and uncomfortable lung tests.

"These cells are like a canary in the coal mine," Spira told Reuters. "Even though lung cancer develops deep down in your lungs when you smoke, these cells can tell you whether you are on the way to developing lung cancer. It is sort of a window into the lung."

Doctors could also test for dysplasia using a bronchoscopy, Horovitz said.

“It’s slightly invasive, you would go through the nasal pharynx and into the lungs,” he said. “There’s no biopsy so it’s a little uncomfortable but you don’t actually have to remove anything. And hopefully, there will eventually be a weigh to test just by using sputum samples alone.”

Researchers have conducted two trials so far. For their experiments, researchers used a brush to collect cells from the windpipes of smokers. They found that P13K was “turned on” in patients that had lung cancer. A second experiment also found that patients with precancerous lesions on their lungs had activated P13K genes.

Stopping Cancer Before It Starts

For the same study, researchers tested a natural compound called myo-inositol in a second group of patients to try to prevent the lung cancer from occurring. What they found was that the patients who took supplements containing myo-inositol actually saw their lesions shrink.

“The inositol part of the study was fascinating to me,” said Horovitz. “Previous studies done with inositol have involved hair loss. Researchers found that mice without inositol in their bodies would lose their hair. And when researchers gave them the inositol, it would grow back. Some have also used it to lower cholesterol and others believe it’s good for the nervous system to treat mood disorders.”

Myo-inositol is also found in fruits, beans, grains and nuts. Horovitz said the substance is also found in a number of multivitamin supplements.


What is it?
Myo-Inositol is produced in many human tissues and it is also found in many food sources. The best sources of Myo-Inositol are fruits, beans, grains, and nuts. Fresh vegetables and fruits contain more Myo-Inositol than frozen, canned, or salt-free products. Cantaloupe and citrus fruits other than lemons are very rich in Myo-Inositol and oats and bran contain more than other grains. There is very little Myo-Inositol in milk and yogurt. Myo-Inositol has been used in the treatment of liver disease, depression, panic disorder, diabetic neuropathy (damage to the nerves which results in pain and numbness), respiratory distress syndrome (found in premature babies due to poor lung development), and to treat the side effects of the medicine lithium.

Other names for Myo-Inositol include: Inositol, Inositol Monophosphate, and Inositol Hexaphosphate

No comments: