The Most Potent Carcinogen Uncovered

Posted by M ws On Tuesday, August 27, 2013 0 comments
Researchers in Singapore and Taiwan have uncovered the world's most potent cancer-causing substance.
Aristolochic acid (AA), a natural compound in Aristolochia plants that grow all over the world, is used in herbal remedies for weight loss and to treat ailments ranging from arthritis to menstrual cramps.

It causes 10 times more genetic mutations than smoking, they found, leading to kidney failure and cancers.
"We have shown that AA causes 300 to 3,000 gene mutations, creating a unique molecular fingerprint of this carcinogen," said one of the lead researchers, Professor Teh Bin Tean, principal investigator at the National Cancer Centre Singapore.

The breakthrough came after 11/2 years of intensive research and was published online on Wednesday in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

One of the world's top cancer groups, from the Johns Hopkins cancer centre in the United States, also had a similar report in the same journal.

By using the new technique of studying the molecular signatures of carcinogenic ingredients, researchers hope to be able to uncover more substances which cause cancer.

"This has opened up a new field," said Prof Teh, a professor at Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School Singapore and senior principal investigator at the Cancer Science Institute, National University of Singapore.

"We still do not know how many carcinogens are out there, and we can use this approach to study, identify and detect their presence."

AA is a natural compound found in Aristolochia plants, many of which are commonly known as birthwort, Dutchman's pipe or "Guan mu tong". It is commonly used in traditional herbal preparations, particularly in China and Taiwan, and sold as capsules.

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Thanks to Angela for sharing.

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