Liver Cancer Risk May Be Reduced By Compound Found In Aged Cheese

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Apr 25, 2017 11:56 AM EDT

Mice fed with spermidine supplement are less likely to develop hepatocellular (HCC) of liver fibrosis. (Photo : Mike Windle/Getty Images for MEN'S FITNESS)

Spermidine, a compound originally isolated from sperm is naturally found in aged cheese, mushrooms, legumes, soy, whole grains, and corn. A team of researchers claimed that this spermidine rich foods may help reduce the risk of liver cancer and extend lifespan.

According to Medical News Today, the researchers from Texas A&M University in College Station fed mice with spermidine supplement. These experimental animals were susceptible to developing hepatocellular cancinoma (HCC) or liver fibrosis. The team then found that the mice were unlikely to develop any forms of the liver cancer.

The researchers also found that mice with lifelong spermidine supplementation have 25 percent increase in their lifespan. However, rodents that didn’t consume the compound have the higher risk of suffering from liver cancer.

"It's a dramatic increase in lifespan of animal models, as much as 25 percent," Leyuan Liu, Ph.D., the study’s co-author said. "In human terms, that would mean that instead of living to about 81 years old, the average American could live to be over 100."

Dr. Liu of the Institute of Biosciences & Technology at Texas A&M and his colleagues recently reported their findings in the journal Cancer Research. Hepato or HCC is the most common type of liver cancer. On the other hand, liver fibrosis is the result of an accumulation of scar tissue in the liver that can lead to liver cancer.

Lack of autophagy, the process of eating own cell fragments contributed to cancer formation, Dr. Liu and his team found in their past research. But the researchers discovered spermidine having cancer-protective action since it increases MAP1S, which is known to activate autophagy.

The team believed that spermidine has relevant health benefits. However, further studies are still needed to confirm the safety and efficacy of the compound in humans. "Just think: if we added spermidine to every bottle of beer, it might balance out the alcohol and help protect the liver," Dr. Liu said.

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