Lecithin, a chemical found in soybeans when added to a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), increased its anticancer properties and reduced its side effects, finds a study by scientists at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth). The findings of the preclinical study appear in the journal Oncology Letters.
"The results support the potential use of NSAIDs associated with phosphatidylcholine for the prevention and treatment of colorectal cancer," said Lenard Lichtenberger, Ph.D., the study's lead investigator and a professor of integrative biology and pharmacology at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth.
The NSAID indomethacin associated with phosphatidylcholine was studied in a head-to-head comparison with three other NSAIDs (one of them aspirin). According to the results, the combination provided superior colorectal cancer protection with less gastrointestinal bleeding. The study was conducted in a mouse model and in laboratory experiments.
NSAIDs work by decreasing the production of substances that promote inflammation, pain and fever. They are used to prevent heart disease and reduce arthritis pain. NSAIDs, notably aspirin, also guard against colorectal cancer. "Many cancers are inflammation based," he said. "The anti-inflammatory drugs also have the potential use for cancer therapy."
However, when taken on a daily basis for months to years, NSAIDs can cause problems, Lichtenberger said. "The intestinal injury is worse than the stomach ulcers, for non-aspirin NSAIDs like indomethacin," he said.
"This is our latest preclinical study on the use of phosphatidylcholine to mitigate the side effects of using NSAIDs and protect against a number of cancers," he said.