Milk protein may offer cancer protection: Study

Milk protein may offer cancer protection

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The milk proteins may have anti-cancer properties, say researchers, after new in vitro tests reveal the cancer fighting potential of lactoferricin4-14.

The study – published in the Journal of Dairy Science​ – tested the effects of the milk protein lactoferricin4-14 (Lfcin4-14) on measures of DNA damage in lab tests that exposed colon cancer cells to ultraviolet (UV) light.

Led by Professor Stina Oredsson from the University of Lund, Sweden, the researchers found that the milk protein significantly reduced the growth rate of the cancer cells over time by extending certain parts of the cell cycle.  

In addition the researchers found that Lfcin4-14 reduced DNA damage in the cancer cells – a finding which the team believes could have applications for non-cancer cells too.

“We found that Lfcin4–14 treatment resulted in decreased DNA strand breaks in UV light-irradiated Caco-2 cells,”​ said the researchers. “We believe that this observation is of importance for normal cells and the possibility of Lfcin4–14 being part of the cancer preventive effect of milk.”

To understand the mechanisms behind the reduction in DNA strand breaks the team also monitored the expression of key proteins involved in cell cycle control, DNA repair, and cell death. They found an increase in certain proteins associated with DNA repair in addition to decreases in proteins associated with cell death.

“These changes in expression support our hypothesis that Lfcin4-14 treatment resulted in increased DNA repair,"​ says Dr. Oredsson.

Source: Journal of Dairy Science
Volume 95, Issue 10​, Pages 5552–5560, doi: 10.3168/jds.2011-5279
“Reduction of ultraviolet light-induced DNA damage in human colon cancer cells treated with a lactoferrin-derived peptide”
Authors: C. Freiburghaus, H. Lindmark-Månsson, M. Paulsson, S. Oredsson

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