Anti-cancer – aflatoxins & chlorophyllin

Mechanisms of chlorophyllin anticarcinogenesis against aflatoxin B1: Complex formation with the carcinogen.

Breinholt, V., Schimerlik, M., Dashwood, R., Bailey, G.  1995. Chem. Res. Toxicol. 1906.8, 506-514.

Background: Aflatoxins are fungal poisons that are also potent cancer-causing agents (carcinogens).  Aflatoxin B1 is produced by a species of fungus, Aspergillus that is found all around the world, infecting many different grains and legumes such as wheat, rye, beans, lentils, peas and peanuts. Aflatoxins can cause liver damage and liver cancer.

A diet high in plants has been shown to reduce the risk of cancer.1,2. One possible reason for this effect is the presence of chlorophyll derivatives including chlorophyllin. Chlorophyll is the green pigment that is involved in photosynthesis in plants, allowing plants to absorb energy from sunlight. This paper gives a possible explanation for how chlorophyllin may help reduce the risk of cancer.

Laboratory Findings:
 The researchers found that chlorophyllin forms a complex new molecule with aflatoxin B1. This new molecule essentially neutralizes the ability of aflatoxin B1 to damage the liver or cause liver cancer.

Conclusions: The researchers concluded that since chlorophyll is found in very high levels in green plants, the ability of chlorophyllin to form a new complex molecule with aflatoxin B1 may explain why diets high in plant foods lower the risk of cancer.

1. Romagnolo DF, Selmin OI. Flavonoids and cancer prevention: a review of the evidence. Journal Of Nutrition In Gerontology And Geriatrics 2012;31:206-38.
2. Kontou N, Psaltopoulou T, Panagiotakos D, Dimopoulos MA, Linos A. The mediterranean diet in cancer prevention: a review. Journal of Medicinal Food 2011;14:1065-78.