Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Irony: An Artificial Sweetener Once Wrongly Believed To Be Cancer Causing Can Actually Inhibit Cancer Growth

From "Saccharin shows promise as cancer inhibitor" on ScienceBlog:
For decades, saccharin was wrongly labeled as a possible cancer-causing chemical. Now, nearly 15 years after it was declared safe, University of Florida Health researchers have found that the artificial sweetener can inhibit cancer cell growth.

Saccharin shows considerable promise for its ability to inhibit an enzyme upregulated in many cancers, helping tumor cells survive and metastasize, said Robert McKenna, a professor of biochemistry and molecular biology in the UF College of Medicine. After testing its effectiveness on cancer cells, researchers believe saccharin could eventually lead to the development of drugs that treat highly aggressive cancers affecting the breast, liver, prostate, kidney and pancreas. The findings were published recently in the journal Bioorganic & Medicinal Chemistry and are being presented Wednesday at the American Chemical Society convention in Denver.
The irony of a chemical that was once labeled a potential carcinogen now having potential as an anti-cancer agent wasn’t lost on the research team. Studies in the 1970s linked saccharin to bladder cancer in laboratory rats, according to the National Cancer Institute. Congress ordered further study and passed a law in 1977 that mandated a warning label. Later studies found that the cancer incidence in rats was irrelevant to humans, leading to a repeal of the labeling requirement in late 2000. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration declared saccharin safe for consumption the following year.

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