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article imageSaccharin may actually block cancer

By Tim Sandle     Apr 3, 2015 in Science
Miami - After some decades as being associated as a possible trigger for certain forms of cancer, the sugar substitute sweetener Saccharin may actually inhibit certain forms of cancer.
The change of perspective about Saccharin comes after University of Florida Health scientists conducted studies indicating the artificial sweetener can inhibit cancer cell growth. Importantly, this relates to laboratory experiments on cells and the same effects may not necessarily be realized in the human body.
Saccharin is an artificial sweetener with effectively no food energy (that is, a near zero calorific value). It is about 400 times as sweet as sucrose (common sugar.) Saccharin has long been used as a suitable sugar alternative for those wishing to lose weight or who are diabetic. The acceptability for diabetics is because Saccharin is not broken down when digested. It is slowly absorbed into the system and rapidly excreted, unchanged, by the kidneys. Saccharin was invented in 1879.
One concern with Saccharin was an association with cancer. This related to studies performed in the U.S. in the 1970s. Here it was found that laboratory rats developed of bladder cancer when given equivalent quantities of Saccharin that a person could take in a standard diet. However, these results could not be substantiated and after various scientific wrangles the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) concluded that saccharin could no longer be considered a possible carcinogen in people in 1999. This was followed by the U.S. Environment Protection Agency concluding that Saccharin was not a risk substance in 2010.
Following this association, it is interesting to learn that Saccharin may actually inhibit cancer. Studies showed that Saccharin disrupts an enzyme called carbonic anhydrase IX. This cellular enzyme helps to regulate the cancer cell’s pH level (or hydrogen ion concentration.) By disrupting this biochemical pathway, this makes it harder for the cancer cell to grow and metastasize.
For the next stage, the research team are of the view that Saccharin could eventually lead to the development of drugs that treat highly aggressive cancers affecting the breast, liver, prostate, kidney and pancreas. Although such drugs are years away, the research strand will be an interesting one to follow.
The research has been published in the journal Bioorganic & Medicinal Chemistry. The paper is titled "Saccharin: A lead compound for structure-based drug design of carbonic anhydrase IX inhibitors."
More about saccharin, Sugar, Sweetener, Cancer
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