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Compound Obtained via Vegetables Protects Body from Deadly Radiation Doses

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A recent study by Georgetown University Medical Center researchers reveal that they have discovered a compound coming from cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli, that was able to shield mice and rats from fatal doses of radiation.

Their study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS)suggests the compound, already reported to be safe for humans, may shield regular tissue during radiation therapy for cancer treatment and thwart or allay sickness caused by radiation exposure.

The compound, known as DIM (3,3'-diindolylmethane), previously has been found to have cancer preventive characteristics.

"DIM has been studied as a cancer prevention agent for years, but this is the first indication that DIM can also act as a radiation protector," said the study's corresponding author and professor of oncology, biochemistry and cell & molecular biology, and radiation medicine, Eliot Rosen, MD, PhD, of Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center.

During the course of study, the researchers irradiated rats with fatal doses of gamma ray radiation. The rats were then treated with a daily injection of DIM for two weeks, beginning 10 minutes following radiation exposure.

"The result was stunning,' begins Rosen, ' All of the untreated rats died, but well over half of the DIM-treated animals remained alive 30 days after the radiation exposure."

Rosen also points out that DIM also provided protection regardless of whether the first injection was distributed 24 hours prior to or up to 24 hours following radiation exposure.

"We also showed that DIM protects the survival of lethally irradiated mice," said Rosen.

Moreover, irradiated mice treated with DIM had less reduction in red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets; all of which are common side-effects observed in patients who are subjected to radiation treatment for cancer.

Rosen believes this study could eventually lead to two possible uses of the compound.

"DIM could protect normal tissues in patients receiving radiation therapy for cancer, but could also protect individuals from the lethal consequences of a nuclear disaster."

Rosen and study co-authors Saijun Fan, PhD, and Milton Brown, MD, PhD, are co-inventors on a copyright application that has been filed by Georgetown University related to the usage of DIM and DIM-related compounds as radioprotectors.


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