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Vegetable Compound Protected Rats from Radiation

Update Date: Oct 16, 2013 04:04 PM EDT

In a new study, researchers found that a compound sourced from cruciferous vegetables has the potential of protecting rats from lethal doses of radiation. The researchers from Georgetown University Medical Center believe that these vegetables, which include cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli, could help protect humans' normal tissues as well during radiation therapy.

In this study, the researchers identified the compound called DIM (3,3'-diinodolylmethane). DIM has previously been identified as a compound that is safe for humans and has some cancer preventive properties. The researchers exposed rats to lethal dosages of gamma ray radiation. 10 minutes after the exposure, the researchers treated some the rodents with a daily injection of DIM for two full weeks.

"DIM has been studied as a cancer prevention agent for years, but this is the first time that DIM can also act as a radiation protector," corresponding author, Eliot Rosen, MD, PhD, from the Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center said.

The researchers found that every single untreated rat died while more than 50 percent of the rats that was treated survived after 30 days since the radiation exposure. The researchers stated that DIM was able to protect the rodents when it was administered within 24 hours before exposure or up to 24 hours after radiation. The researchers found that the treated mice had less reduction in their red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets. A reduction in these three levels is usually seen in patients who get radiation treatment for cancer.

"We also showed that DIM protects the survival of lethally irradiated mice," Rosen said. "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 worked with Sijun Fan, Ph.D. and Milton Brown, MP, Ph.D. The study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

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