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Volume 231, Issue 1, Pages 43-48 (8 January 2006)


Oral artemisinin prevents and delays the development of 7,12-dimethylbenz[a]anthracene (DMBA)-induced breast cancer in the rat

Henry LaiCorresponding Author Informationemail address, Narendra P. Singh

Received 30 October 2004; accepted 14 January 2005.
Abstract

Artemisinin, a compound isolated from the sweet wormwood Artemisia annua L., has previously been shown to have selective toxicity towards cancer cells in vitro. In the present experiment, we studied the potential of artemisinin to prevent breast cancer development in rats treated with a single oral dose (50mg/kg) of 7,12-dimethylbenz[a]anthracene (DMBA), known to induce multiple breast tumors. Starting from the day immediately after DMBA treatment, one group of rats was provided with a powdered rat-chow containing 0.02% artemisinin, whereas a control group was provided with plain powdered food. For 40 weeks, both groups of rats were monitored for breast tumors. Oral artemisinin significantly delayed (P<.002) and in some animals prevented (57% of artemisinin-fed versus 96% of the controls developed tumors, P<.01) breast cancer development in the monitoring period. In addition, breast tumors in artemisinin-fed rats were significantly fewer (P<.002) and smaller in size (P<.05) when compared with controls. Since artemisinin is a relatively safe compound that causes no known side effects even at high oral doses, the present data indicate that artemisinin may be a potent cancer-chemoprevention agent.
Department of Bioengineering, University of Washington, Box 357962, Seattle, WA 98195-7962, USA
http://www.cancerletters.info/article/S0304-3835(05)00072-8/...


Artemisinin is used widely by the World Health Organization for treating malaria.

Iggie
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Very interesting. And maybe one day it'll be shown to have relevance to human cancers.

As a side note -- it's really nice to know the journal that the article is in. (You don't have to bother with the dates received and accepted.)


sheila
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Artemisinin Disrupts Estrogen Receptor-Alpha and Cell Growth
MCF7 cells are an estrogen responsive human breast cancer cell line that expresses both estrogen receptor subtypes, estrogen receptor-alpha (ERa) and estrogen receptor-beta (ERß). Treatment of MCF7 cells with artemisinin (Art), an anti-malarial phytochemical from the sweet wormwood plant, effectively blocked estrogen stimulated cell cycle progression induced by either ß-estradiol (E2), an agonist for both estrogen receptor subtypes, or by propyl pyrazole triol (PPT), a selective ERa agonist. Art strongly down-regulated ERa protein and transcripts without altering expression or activity of ERß. Transfection of MCF7 cells with ERa promoter-linked luciferase reporter plasmids revealed that the Art down-regulation of ERa promoter activity accounted for the loss of ERa expression. Furthermore, Art treatment ablated the estrogenic induction of endogenous progesterone receptor transcripts by either E2 or PPT, and inhibited the estrogenic stimulation of a luciferase reporter plasmid driven by consensus estrogen response elements (ERE). In vitro ERE binding assays revealed that Art treatment resulted in the loss of ERE bound ERa, whereas, the levels of ERE bound ERß were not altered. Treatment of MCF7 cells with a combination of suboptimal combinations of Art and a pure antiestrogen, faslodex resulted in an enhanced reduction of ERa protein levels and in an enhanced G1 cell cycle arrest compared to the effects of either compound alone. Our results show that Art switches proliferative human breast cancer cells from expressing a high ERa:ERß ratio to a condition in which expression of ERß predominates, which parallels the physiological state linked to anti-proliferative events in both normal mammary epithelium and in breast cancer. http://www.cbcrp.org/research/PageGrant.asp?grant_id=4768
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Artemisia has been used by Chinese herbalists for more than a thousand years in the treatment of many illnesses, such as skin diseases and malaria. The earliest record dates back to 200 BC, in the "Fifty two Prescriptions" unearthed from the Mawangdui Han Dynasty Tombs. Its antimalarial application was first described in Zhouhou Beji Fang ("The Handbook of Prescriptions for Emergencies"), edited in the middle of fourth century by Ge Hong. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Artemisinin


Sheila, if you had breast cancer, would you avoid an economical safe
herb which showed significant cancer prevention (in rats) because
BigPharma funded research hadn't given its stamp of approval?

Iggie
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Artemisia has been used by Chinese herbalists for more than a thousand years in the treatment of many illnesses, such as skin diseases and malaria.

Looking at the grant proposal you link to, submitted by faculty at Berkeley, they say that artemisia has been used by the Chinese since ancient times FOR FEVER, and that it is only since the 1970s that it has been used to treat malaria. I'd go with the Berkeley guys for accuracy. And they note that the anti-proliferative effect they note in certain human breast cancer cells is a newly discovered effect of this herb.


Sheila, if you had breast cancer, would you avoid an economical safe herb which showed significant cancer prevention (in rats) because BigPharma funded research hadn't given its stamp of approval?

Iggie, you should know me well enough by now to know that my approach to wellness and therapy is INTEGRATIVE. I am certainly not a big fan of big pharma, and I am a major fan of looking into herbal and nutritional alternatives. But I don't run after everything that somebody raves about. I look into it, and bring my own background to bear on evaluating both the big fan, and the evidence. In this case, I'd feel a lot better if one of the traditional uses had been for breast cancer. Then the current research would be explaining why it has always been found to be effective. Given the current extremely minimal evidence, I would consult with someone whose practice involves assessing all of the alternative cancer treatments, and then I would decide if it really does meet your statement of "safe" and is worth trying.


sheila
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From Chris J. van Boxtel, MD, PhD
Emeritus Professor of Clinical Pharmacology, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands:
Artemisia, Qinghaosu and Wormwood
These compounds are derived from the herb Artemisia annua, in
China known as ‘qinghao’ (Chinese for “from green herb”), which
is a member of the ‘Asteraceae’ family. Qinqhao, notwithstanding
a bitter taste also known as ‘sweet Annie’ or ‘sweet wormwood’,
is a fragrant annual herb, which now grows wild in a number of
countries, including Australia, Argentina, Bulgaria, France,
Hungary, Italy, Spain and the United States. It is native to Asia
and has been used as antiparasitic therapy for malaria in
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for more than 1,000 years.
The earliest reference to the medicinal use of artemisia annua in
‘The Fifty Two Prescriptions’ which was uncovered in ancient
Chinese burial tombs during an archaeological dig in the 1970s,
dates back more than 2,000 years. There are more than 300
species that comprise the genus Artemisia, many of which are
sources of herbal medicines, spices or essential oils.

Chinese chemists isolated the primary active ingredient in
artemisia annua from the leafy portion of the plant in 1972 and
called the crystalline compound, ‘qinghaosu’ - or ‘artemisinin’ in
the West. http://www.who-umc.org/graphics/4467.pdf

‘The Fifty Two Prescriptions’ and TCM predate Berkeley.


Iggie, you should know me well enough by now to know that my approach to wellness and therapy is INTEGRATIVE.
Sheila


The person that publicized artemicinin in the US is Dr. Robert Jay Rowen, a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Johns Hopkins University and graduate of the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine is internationally known for his work in the field of complementary/alternative/integrative medicine. He uses artemicinin in his practice and works closely with Vietnamese doctors who use it extensively.

Forget about scientific human trials, It ain't gonna happen. It's a natural herb and the Chinese have already isolated the active chemical ingredient.

Jane, my ex lives in the equivalent of Mayberry, USA. They've got a Barney Fife but not even one doctor. She lives in Tennessee where naturopathy is outlawed. Her cancer doc told her up front that she had a very aggressive cancer but that chemo often worked better on aggressive cancers. Our fear is that the cancer will return with a vengeance, but with a resistance to chemo drugs. I feel that we must stay on top and fight the cancer demon before it gets the upper hand. My cousin scoffed at alternative methods and he's now in hospice.

I'm advising Jane to take artemicinin, alternating one month on and one month off. I'm confident that it's much safer than pharmaceutical drugs.

She lives a couple of hundred miles from me. I'm doing the best I can with my limited knowledge.

Iggie
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‘The Fifty Two Prescriptions’ and TCM predate Berkeley.

Clearly.


Forget about scientific human trials, It ain't gonna happen. It's a natural herb and the Chinese have already isolated the active chemical ingredient.

Of course it can happen. The fact that the Chinese have isolated the active chemical ingredient doesn't mean there won't be HUMAN trials! A variety of cellular and animal studies, and human pharmacokinetics, are needed before clinical trials can even be attempted.

The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, which is part of NIH, has a huge roster of ongoing and imminent research. Among these are a number of studies looking at plant extracts, including for cancers. Some of them are leading up to clinical trials. Yes, Iggie -- actual human clinial trials for plant therapies.

The effort that you're making to help your ex is great. I'm not knocking it in any way, shape, or form. But you asked me what I would do for myself. You know I don't always agree with your conclusions or your sources. And for me -- you saying "I'm confident that it's much safer than pharmaceutical drugs" isn't something I can make my decisions on. I need to look at existing information myself, and talk to anyone I can access who may have some information or insight. And that might end up proving you right. Or it might not. You're making the decision for your wife based on what you bring to it. And obviously you've done a good bit of reading. Your wife obviously doesn't have much in the way of medical resources to draw on. So you stick with what you feel is right.


sheila
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I meant to include the link to the NCCAM listing of research grants.

http://nccam.nih.gov/research/extramural/awards/2008/


sheila
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