Plant matter protects against radiation damage

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International team of researchers finds remedies for radiation sickness

Broccoli as a wonder weapon? An international team of researchers may have discovered a remedy for the so-called "radiation sickness". In experiments with rats and mice, the researchers had recognized that the highly effective substance "diindolylmethane" DIM contained in cabbage vegetables is apparently able to reduce the symptoms of radiation sickness.

Radiation sickness can quickly lead to death. Radiation can become a real danger because short-term exposure to ionizing radiation such as X-rays or gamma rays can lead to the so-called "radiation sickness". As a result, the disease occurs relatively rarely - for example as a result of radiation accidents or nuclear weapon explosions - but can quickly end badly. Because the course of the radiation sickness primarily depends on the received radiation dose. Accordingly, at lower doses only headache, nausea or loss of appetite can occur, but a higher dose can also mean hair loss all over the body, severe diarrhea, uncontrolled bleeding or even death within a very short time.

Indole-3-carbinol effective against cancer? However, an international research team has apparently succeeded in identifying an antidote that is intended to significantly alleviate the symptoms of radiation sickness. The substance is the so-called "diindolylmethane" (DIM), which is created during the digestion of a component of cabbage vegetables - such as broccoli. According to the team led by Saijun Fan from the Georgtown University Medical Center, the study results suggest that this so-called "indole-3-carbinol" and diindolylmethane are effective against cancer - however, the amounts ingested through food would not be sufficient to have negative radiation effects ward off.

Highest survival rate in rats with the highest DIM dose As the researchers write in the journal "Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences", the study was to investigate "the potential use of DIM as a medical countermeasure to prevent or alleviate acute radiation sickness". For this purpose, rats were irradiated with a lethal dose of 13 gamma radiation and then given a daily injection of diindolylmethane for 14 days, the animals receiving different doses of the substance. The result: After 10 days, more than half of the animals that had received the highest DIM dose were alive - the animals that had not received any DIM in the control group, however, were all dead, as the researchers in the journal "Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences ".

Clinical studies necessary to confirm the results The positive effect of the DIM was also confirmed in another trial. In this, the substance was administered to the rats for the first time 24 hours before the radiation - with the result that a small amount was already sufficient to protect against the radiation. Accordingly, according to the scientists, it can therefore be assumed that diindolylmethane can also be used successfully in people who have been victims of an increased radiation dose. In addition, it can be assumed that "DIM can also be useful in preventing or later alleviating normal tissue damage caused by radiation exposure to certain parts of the body during cancer treatment," the researchers continued. But before DIM can actually be used in the treatment of cancer patients, the researchers first have to confirm the results in clinical studies. (No)

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