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Chocolate Prevents Cancer

  • September 9, 2008
  • Hit 9766
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Eating chocolate may lead to tooth decay and bulging waistlines, but could also prevent cancer and heart disease.

Professor Lee Hyong-joo's research team at College of Agriculture said they had found evidence that a chemical substance in cacao plants, used for making cocoa and chocolates, may have a role in suppressing heart diseases and cancer.

The study was published in the recent editions of peer journals Cardiovascular Research and Journal of Biological Chemistry.

The researchers have received patents for the commercial use of the cancer-suppressing chemicals found in cacao plants in South Korea, the United States, China and Europe.

``Our study revealed that eating cocoa and chocolate products with high proportions of cacao could have a positive effect in preventing heart diseases and cancer,'' said Lee.

``This could be used in the development of drugs, health supplements and cosmetics,'' he said.

A substance found in cacao, known as procyanidin, had previously been found effective in preventing cardiovascular diseases and cancer through animal testing and clinical trials.

However, the mechanism of the chemical interactions has never been defined until now.

The studies revealed that procyanidin directly inhibits the activities of MEK and MT-1 MMP, which are proteins critically involved in the progression of arteriosclerosis.

In experiments on smooth muscle cells, which control blood pressure in arteries and veins, procyanidin successfully shut down the activities of MEK and MT-1 MMP, preventing the progression of arterioslerosis induced by thrombin in the process.

Procyanidin was also found to suppress the expression of VEGF, a protein involved with the formation of new blood vessels to feed tumors, thus preventing normal cells from turning into cancer cells.

For the experiments, the research team used low concentrations of procyanidin at 1 to 3 ug/ml. For an adult weighing 60 kilograms, the level is achievable by eating an 80-gram bar of dark chocolate.

September 3, 2008
SNU PR Office

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