Chlorophyll Compounds may Help Treat Cancer

PORTLAND – Natural food compounds, previously studied for their ability to prevent cancer, may play a more potent role in treating it, says a new study.

Conducted by the Linus Pauling Institute, Oregon State University (OSU), the study found that chlorophyllin (water-soluble derivative of chlorophyll) was 10 times more effective in killing colon cancer cells than hydroxyurea, a drug commonly used in cancer treatment.

Moreover, chlorophyllin kills cancer cells by blocking the same phase of cellular division that hydroxyurea does, but by a different mechanism, according to an OSU release.

This opens the possiblity of developing other cocktails of natural products, to produce a synergistic effect with conventional cancer drugs, helping them to work better or require less toxic dosages, researchers said.

The concept of combining conventional cancer drugs with natural compounds that have been shown to have anti-cancer properties is very promising, said Rod Dashwood, professor and director of the Cancer Chemoprotection Program at the institute.

Most chemotherapeutic approaches to cancer try to target cancer cells specifically and do something that slows or stops their cell growth process, Dashwood said.

We conclude that chlorophyllin has the potential to be effective in the clinical setting, when used alone or in combination with currently available cancer therapeutic agents, the researchers wrote.

Chlorophyllin is a water-soluble derivative of chlorophyll — the green pigment found in most plants and many food products that makes possible the process of photosynthesis and plant growth from the sun’s energy.

The study was published in the International Journal of Cancer.