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Home > Communications > Newsroom > 2008

NEWSROOM

Compound in Oysters Effective in Preventing Cancer Growth
May 26, 2008

A compound found in oysters is effective in preventing the growth of cancer cells, according to an LSU AgCenter researcher.

Ceramides – a lipid or fat compound – found in oysters, other animals and plants are currently in clinical trials to speed the healing process in patients undergoing chemotherapy. In a research paper recently presented at the Annual Meeting of the Institute for Food Technology, Jack Losso with the AgCenter’s Department of Food Science detailed his use of oyster ceramides to arrest breast cancer cells grown in test tubes and laboratory rats.

“This is incredibly exciting,” said Losso, whose research was funded by Louisiana Sea Grant and the AgCenter. “When we looked at cancer cells treated with ceramides, their growth had been inhibited and they were dying.”

Oyster ceramides fight both hormone-dependent and hormone-independent breast tumor cells in test tubes and kill them within 48 hours. In laboratory rats treated with oyster ceramides, blood vessel growth that simulates cancer cell growth and proliferation was reduced by 57 percent in seven days. No toxicity to the animals was reported.

Although the rats received concentrated ceramide injections, the compound can just as easily be taken orally in pill form, said Losso. Conceivably, an oyster-rich diet could aid in cancer prevention.

“You could eat the oysters raw or cooked,” said Losso. “But you can’t grill with those popular counter-top grills that discard the fat. The ceramide is in the oil, which is lost when you use a grill that is tilted.”

Although the compound is found in a variety of plants and animals, the type of ceramide differs on the species. Oysters, which are filter feeders, apparently collect ceramides in their bodies as they ingest phytoplankton.

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