Treatment with deguelin, a chemical found in various plants, may help prevent lung cancer caused by cigarette smoking, the results of an animal study suggest.
Dr. Ho-Young Lee, from the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, and colleagues treated three groups of mice with cancer-causing agents found in cigarette smoke for 8 weeks. One group was treated with deguelin at the same time, another was treated with deguelin afterward, and the third group received no deguelin. The animals were sacrificed and examined at week 20.
Animals in all three groups developed lung tumors, the researchers reports in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
However, giving deguelin at the same time as the cancer-causing chemicals led to a marked reduction in the number of tumors. Giving deguelin afterward also cut the number of tumors, but the difference was not significant from a statistical standpoint.
Although there are concerns that high doses of deguelin may be toxic to the heart, lungs, and nerves, the authors observed no major side effects with the doses used in their study.
These results, Lee’s team writes, “indicate that deguelin warrants consideration as a (preventive) agent for early-stage lung” cancer in human studies.
SOURCE: Journal of the National Cancer Institute, November 16, 2005.
Revision date: July 4, 2011
Last revised: by Tatiana Kuznetsova, D.M.D.