Flax seed is capable of protecting the body from the adverse effects of radiation, regardless of its source, be it a terrorist bomb blast or conventional cancer treatment, as shown by the results of a new study conducted on mice.
The mice who ate flax seeds 6 weeks before and after they received a large dose of radiation to the chest were more likely to survive and less problems with the lungs than mice not fed on flax seed. Four months after exposure, up to 88% of the mice that ate flaxseed were still alive, compared with only 40% of the mice that did not eat flaxseed.
In this analysis, the researchers were particularly interested in opening a cheap and safe mode of supplements for people who are exposed to radiation in the event of a terrorist attack.
"In such cases, we need something really safe, efficient, which would be delivered in large quantities to all people at once" - explained study researcher Dr. Kate Sendzhel (Keith Cengel), professor of radiation oncology at the Medical School of the University of Pennsylvania. Flaxseed meets these requirements and can provide additional benefits for the health of the body, including improved heart health. However, researchers still are not sure that they found the protective properties of the plant will be efficacious for the human body. The new analysis was published in the online version of the journal "BMC Cancer".
Terrorist use of a "dirty bomb" could expose a lot of people highly exposed rescue workers. This type of bomb disperses radioactive material in the form of dusting powders, and represents a great risk to health, as the researchers reported. One type of lung injury that can follow is called fibrositis in which the injured tissue, making it easy to expand normally during breathing. This damage can also occur in patients with lung cancer who have received an overdose of radiation during chemotherapy.
Mice in the new analysis received a single dose of radiation, which was the equivalent of radiation received by the patient during the whole course of chemotherapy, as described Sendzhel.
One group of mice was fed a diet consisting of 10% of flax seeds to radiation. For humans, this is equivalent to use 4 tablespoons of flaxseed per day, as the researchers noted. Another mice flax same amount was added after two, four and six weeks after irradiation. The control group of animals did not eat flaxseed at all.
Besides being able to survive in mice that ate flaxseed, also noted the lack of weight loss and a reduced risk of inflammation and fibrositis than those who did not eat flax seeds. The researchers reported that they still could not figure out exactly how flaxseed mitigates the effects of radiation. The strongest DNA damage occurs immediately after exposure, but flaxseed may prevent the body to properly respond to the radiation, as explained Sendzhel.
"This is very encouraging," - said Dr. Neygi Elseyd (Nagy Elsayyad), Professor of Radiation Oncology, Cancer Center of the University of Miami on the results of the analysis. The results call for further research in this area, as noted Elseyd, did not participate in the analysis.
Despite all these advantages, some scientists are skeptical that flax seed can be used to mitigate the effects of a terrorist attack or a nuclear explosion.
"I think the probability of useful properties of flax exist" - said Dr. Jacqueline Williams (Jacqueline Williams), an expert on radiation exposure from the University of Rochester in New York. "But I think that flaxseed, taken in isolation, as the experience of previous studies, is unlikely to be completely effective," - she added. "It is more likely that the protection the body can provide a specific combination of components."
In addition, mice were used in the analysis of genetically identical, unlike humans, are very different from each other genetically as explained William. Yet it remains unknown whether flaxseed have the same effect on all people. The researchers are currently testing the effectiveness of the protective properties of flaxseed for people suffering from cancer, while undergoing chemotherapy.
Original: LiveScience Translation: M. Potter