Natural products from plants protect skin during cancer radiotherapy

Radiotherapy for cancer involves exposing the patient or their tumor more directly to ionizing radiation, such as gamma rays or X-rays. The radiation damages the cancer cells irreparably. Unfortunately, such radiation is also harmful to healthy tissue, particularly the skin over the site of the tumor, which is then at risk of hair loss, dermatological problems and even skin cancer. As such finding ways to protect the overlying skin are keenly sought.

Writing in the International Journal of Low Radiation, Faruck Lukmanul Hakkim of the University of Nizwa, Oman and Nagasaki University, Nagasaki, Japan, and colleagues there and at Macquarie University, New South Wales, Australia, Bharathiar University, India and Konkuk University, South Korea, explain how three ubiquitous and well-studied natural products derived from plants can protect the skin against gamma radiation during radiotherapy.

Hakkim and colleagues discuss the benefits of the organic, antioxidant compounds caffeic acid (CA), rosmarinic acid (RA) and trans-cinnamic acid (TCA) used at non-toxic concentrations. They tested the radio protective effect of these compounds against gamma-radiation in terms of reducing levels of generated in skin cells by clinical relevance dose of gamma ray in the laboratory and in terms of the damage to the genetic material DNA, specifically double strand breaks in laboratory samples of (keratinocytes). They found that treating the human skin cells with CA, RA and TCA can protected the cells by 40, 20 and 15 percent respectively from gamma ray toxicity. They suggest that the protective effect arises because the compounds mop up the reactive oxygen species and chemically deactivate them as well as enhancing the body's natural DNA repair mechanisms.

The team suggests that these compounds might best be used as skin protectants during combination chemo- and radio-therapy. Further work is under way to investigate the clinical potential of mixtures of the three natural products.

More information: Int. J. Low Radiation, Vol. 9, No. 4, pp.305-316.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Grapes protect against ultraviolet radiation

Jul 29, 2011

Some compounds found in grapes help to protect skin cells from the sun's ultraviolet radiation, according to a study by researchers from the University of Barcelona and the CSIC (Spanish National Research Council). The study ...

Skin reactions during radiation therapy preventable

Feb 12, 2014

Severe skin reactions during radiation therapy could be prevented by applying a thin transparent silicone dressing to the skin from the first day of treatment, clinical research from New Zealand shows.

Recommended for you

Popular prostate cancer therapy may be harmful

5 minutes ago

A widely used treatment for prostate cancer may cause more harm than good for some patients, according to Dr. Oliver Sartor, medical director of the Tulane Cancer Center.

User comments