Life Extension Update
Mothers' intake of indole-3-carbinol could help protect children from cancer
A report published in the October, 2006 issue of the journal Carcinogenesis described the finding of researchers at the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University in Corvallis, that pregnant mice given indole-3-carbinol (I3C), a compound found in cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and cauliflower, deliver offspring that have a lower incidence of leukemia, lymphoma and lung cancer after being exposed to a common environmental pollutant known to increase the risk of childhood cancer.
"It's clear that in mice this supplement provided significant protection against lymphoma and, later on, lung cancer," Dr Williams added. "It's also worth noting that none of the infant mice received the protective supplement later in their life, at any stage beyond breast feeding. The protective effect of the compound came solely from maternal intake during pregnancy and nursing, but lasted into the animal's middle age. This is somewhat remarkable."
Risk factors for leukemia include advanced age, poor nutrition, previous chemotherapy and radiation treatment for other cancers, and smoking. Medical treatment for leukemia primarily revolves around chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Nutritional supplements offer help support the healthy function of the immune system, and in particular, the white blood cells in leukemia patients. In addition, some nutritional supplements are able to kill leukemia cells. Key examples include vitamin A, genistein from soy extract, and curcumin from turmeric.
Inherited, abnormal genes account for a small proportion of leukemia cases (Alter BP 2003; Bischof O et al 2001; Fong CT et al 1987). However, in most cases, the DNA damage that eventually results in the onset of leukemia is brought about by interactions between genes, age, and a variety of environmental or lifestyle factors such as nutrition and exposure to chemicals (Greaves MF 2004; Irons RD et al 1996).
Cigarette smoke contains leukemia-causing chemicals like benzene (Korte JE et al 2000). Although smoking in the young is associated with modest increases in the risk of developing leukemia, in those over 60 smoking is associated with a twofold increase in risk for AML and a threefold increase in the risk for ALL (Sandler DP et al 1993).
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