Super Substance

Dietary supplement may block cancer cells

Researchers at the OSUCCC – James have discovered how a substance produced when eating broccoli and Brussels sprouts can block the proliferation of cancer cells.

Compelling evidence indicates that the substance, indole-3-carbinol (I3C), may have anticancer effects and other health benefits. The findings show how I3C affects cancer cells and normal cells.

The laboratory and animal study discovered a connection between I3C and a molecule called Cdc25A, which is essential for cell division and proliferation. Research showed that I3C causes the destruction of that molecule and thereby blocks the growth of breast cancer cells.

“Cdc25A is present at abnormally high levels in about half of breast cancer cases, and it is associated with a poor prognosis,” says study leader Xianghong Zou, PhD, assistant professor of Pathology, who notes that the molecule also occurs at abnormally high levels in cancers of the breast, prostate, liver, esophagus, endometrium and colon, as well as in non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and other diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

“For this reason, a number of anti-Cdc25A agents have been identified, but they have not been successful for cancer prevention or treatment due to concerns about their safety or efficacy,” says Zou. “I3C can have striking effects on cancer cells. A better understanding of this mechanism may lead to the use of this dietary supplement as an effective and safe treatment strategy for cancer and other diseases associated with overexpression of Cdc25A.”

For this study, Zou and colleagues exposed three breast cancer cell lines to I3C and observed that the substance caused the destruction of Cdc25A. They also pinpointed a location on that molecule that made it susceptible to I3C, showing that if that location is altered because of a gene mutation, I3C no longer causes the molecule’s destruction.

Published in the journal Cancer Prevention Research.

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