Common Seaweed May Provide an Important Cancer Cure
The answer for cancers of the immune system and other forms of cancer may have been found in an extract of common brown seaweed according to research presented this month at the AACR Dead Sea International Conference on Advances in Cancer Research. At the conference, which was held on March 7-10 at King Hussein Bin Talal Convention Center, Dead Sea, Jordan, researchers from the Hashemite University in Jordan reported that brown seaweed contains the compound fucoidan which kills cancer tumors.
The researchers used an extract of the seaweed on lymphoma cell lines cultivated in the laboratory and found that the extract suppressed lymphoma growth while leaving healthy cells intact. The researchers also noted a significant increase in apoptosis, or cellular death, in lymphoma cancer cells.
Lymphoma is an immune system cancer and it is divided into two classes, Hodgkin’s and non-Hodgkin’s, which are in turn further classified into B-cell and T-cell groups.
“Some forms of B-cell lymphoma are especially resistant to standard treatment and thus new therapies are needed,” said Mohammad Irhimeh, Ph.D., assistant professor of hematoncology and stem cells at the Hashemite University in Jordan. “In this study, we looked at a new treatment strategy using novel active compounds derived from a natural source — seaweed.”
Irhimeh said that research would continue to study the mechanism of fucoidan with the goal of conducting phase II or III clinical trials with human volunteers.
Previously, seaweeds containing fucoidan have been found to have anti-tumor activity in mice and some cell lines and Japanese researchers at the Biomedical Research Laboratories and the Research Institute for Glycotechnology Advancement found that seaweeds containing Fucoidan caused various types of established cancer cell lines to self-destruct. Examples of cancer cells that self-destructed due to fucoidan included certain kinds of leukemia cells, stomach cancer cells, and cancer cells of the descending colon.
About 4 percent of the total dry weight of many types of brown seaweed is made up of the polysaccharide known as Fucoidan. Fucoidan is a sulfated polysaccharide that has a complex structure. Its main components include a sulfuric esterified L-fucose, a healing sugar, and the trace elements of galactose, xylose, and glucuronic acid.
Fucoidan has been touted as one of the ocean’s greatest treasures. Among the many benefits reported for fucoidan in addition to being an anti-tumor agent are: helps modulate the immune system, supports normal cellular health, supports blood circulation to native body cells, act as an anti-contraceptive, helps reduces cholesterol levels and supports healthy joint mobility at all ages. In addition, it is believed that fucoidan may help stimulate immune response when the body is attacked and may help regenerate healthy skin tissue.
The people of Okinawa, Japan enjoy some of the highest life expectancies in Japan and also consume one of the highest per capita amount of the seaweed kombu. The cancer death rate in Okinawa is the lowest of all the prefectures in Japan.
Fucoidan’s anti-cancer properties may also be good news for dogs and cats. Lymphoma is one of the most prevalent cancers in dogs and cats, and as noted above, lymphoma is one of the types of cancer which fucoidan has been found to be the most effective.