Can zinc be used to treat esophageal cancer in the future?
Esophageal cancer is a disease that arises from the cells of the mucous membrane in the esophagus. Symptoms of this cancer are usually discovered very late. US researchers have now found that zinc appears to stop the growth of esophageal cancer cells. This finding could lead to the development of new treatment and prevention methods for esophageal cancer in the future.
The University of Texas scientists found in their current study that zinc appears to stop growth of esophageal cancer cells. The researchers published the results of their study in the journal "FASEB Journal", the official journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology.
How common is esophageal cancer?
Esophageal cancer is ranked sixth among all human cancer deaths, experts from the National Cancer Institute in the United States say. In the United States alone, there were nearly 16,000 esophageal cancer deaths in 2016. This cancer can generally be divided into two different forms: squamous cell carcinoma and adenocarcinoma. However, esophageal cancer occurs relatively rarely in Germany and the so-called mean age of onset is 67 years for men and 69 years for women.
Survival after five years is only about 20 percent
The average five-year survival rate for this condition is less than 20 percent, doctors say. However, new research suggests that zinc can protect the esophagus from cancer. In general, zinc is beneficial for the maintenance of human health, the experts explain.
Can zinc prevent cancer in the esophagus?
The current study was conducted by Dr. Zui Pan headed by University of Texas and specialist in esophageal cancer. The scientists wanted to investigate whether zinc has the ability to prevent the development of cancer in the esophagus and what it is based on. To this end, the experts paid particular attention to the effects of dietary supplements with zinc on the cells.
Zinc has a selective effect on esophageal cancer
The results of the study from the USA show that zinc is able to selectively stop the growth of cancer cells. The normal esophageal epithelial cells are not affected by the effects of zinc. This finding enables new potential treatment options to be derived. Perhaps it will even be possible to completely stop the development of the disease, the researchers hope.
Many people with cancer suffer from a lack of zinc
Zinc deficiency was found in many of the cancer patients, explains the author Dr. Pan. However, both the clinical data and animal experiments have shown that this mineral is very important for health and cancer prevention, the experts explain. So far, however, it is not known why the same physiological concentration of zinc inhibits growth in cancer cells but does not inhibit growth in normal cells.
There is a link between zinc and calcium
The results of the study show that zinc hinders so-called overactive calcium signals in cancer cells, which do not occur in normal cells. Zinc selectively inhibits the growth of cancer cells, explains the author Dr. Pan on. It seems like there is a connection between zinc and calcium. The study also shows how important good nutrition is for people and the wide-ranging effects that can result from ingesting an insufficient amount of zinc.
Which foods contain a lot of zinc?
In addition to dietary supplements, zinc can also be ingested through zinc-rich foods. Such foods include, for example, spinach, linseed, beef, pumpkin seeds, and seafood (such as shrimp and oysters). The consumption of these foods increases the concentration of the nutrient in the human body. (as)