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    Previous results demonstrated dietary 2-mercaptoethanol (2-ME) delayed appearance of cancer in certain murine strains. In addition, it had a benefit not found with other organosulfurs, in that it completely prevented spontaneous development of cancer in BXSB-Yaa + over an entire lifespan. These benefits raise the question: What, if any, alteration of radiation-induced tumorigenesis would 2-ME impart that may differ from that of other sulfur antioxidants? This is relevant based on the extensive use of radiation in diagnoses and therapy and 2-ME's superior in vitro and in situ immune enhancement properties. This was addressed by exposing long-lived, B10.A (4R) mice to sublethal, 5.5 Gy ionizing gamma-rays and then tumor development monitored over a lifetime. Two-tailed P-values were determined using the Fischer's Exact Test. The only tumors detected were mammary and only in animals that were both exposed to radiation and not treated with 2-ME. The 43% incidence differed significantly from the absence of tumors in non-irradiated mice that were or were not exposed to 2-ME and in those irradiated and treated daily with 2-ME, irrespective of whether treatment was started prior to or post irradiation. However, quite unexpectedly, radiation shortened longevity 29% from undefined causes, including cancer, in animals pretreated with 2-ME; longevity was not altered in those not pretreated or if treatment was started post-irradiation. The findings have relevance for cancer prevention and the controversy relative to ''long term survival/safety'' of currently used antioxidants as free radical scavengers in humans undergoing radiotherapy.


    Robert E Click. Alteration of radiation-sensitive processes associated with cancer and longevity by dietary 2-mercaptoethanol. Journal of cancer research and therapeutics. 2014 Jan-Mar;10(1):127-32

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    PMID: 24762499

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