Monday, December 07, 2009

Maitake mushrooms 'curb cancer growth'

This study was conducted in laboratory glassware, not people, so the idea has a long way to go yet. More details here. Abstract here

The maitake mushroom is more than a popular Chinese cooking ingredient, according to researchers at the Department of Urology at the New York Medical College, who claim that it could be potential weapon against cancer.

A study carried out at the institution and detailed in the British Journal of Urology highlights that combining an extract from the mushroom with the anti-cancer protein interferon alpha creates a treatment which has the ability to reduce growth of cancer tumours by as much as 75%.

It is believed that the two substances, when used in low doses, may activate an enzyme which controls growth of prostrate and bladder cancer cells.

Commenting on the discovery, Dr Alison Ross, Cancer Research UK's senior science information officer, told the Daily Express: "Many chemotherapy drugs currently in use have been derived from natural substances found in plants so it is not too far-fetched to think that mushrooms could be a valuable source of potential new cancer drugs."

Bladder cancer is the seventh most common form of the disease in the UK, affecting 356,600 people worldwide every year, according to Cancer Research UK.

Prostate cancer is the most common form of cancer affecting UK men and around 670,000 people are diagnosed with the condition each year worldwide.


Science rescues British children from obesity police

SOCIAL WORKERS have been told to think again about putting overweight children on “at risk” registers after scientists found that obesity can be linked to a genetic defect. In the past three years dozens of parents in Britain have been accused of abusing their children through “overfeeding”, with some youngsters being taken into care. In one of the most extreme cases, in October, social workers went to a maternity ward in Dundee to remove a baby born 28 hours earlier. The Dundee family's lawyers will challenge the decision before a sheriff next week.

The research, by Cambridge University, suggests many parents have been wrongly accused and that the problem lies in the children’s chromosomes. Sadaf Farooqi, who runs the metabolic research laboratories, said: “We have found that part of chromosome 16 can be deleted in some families, and people with this deletion have severe obesity from a young age.”

The results, published today in Nature, emerged from comparing the genomes of 300 obese children with those of 7,000 healthy volunteers. This showed many of the obese youngsters were missing the section of chromosome 16 that contains a gene known as SH2B1, which plays a key role in regulating weight. “They were left with a strong drive to eat and gained weight easily,” said Farooqi.

Some of the 300 obese youngsters in the study were already on “at risk” registers as it was assumed their parents were overfeeding them. They have now been removed from the register, Farooqi said.

In February 2007 The Sunday Times reported on one of the first such “abuse by overfeeding” cases. It involved a boy of eight from Newcastle upon Tyne who weighed 14 stone and whose parents faced care proceedings. The intervention of social services in that case was seen as a landmark in fighting obesity.


No comments: