Liver cancer: Gene mutation effects of aflatoxin inhibited by chlorophyllin

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

Breinholt, V., Schimerlik, M., Dashwood, R., Bailey, G. Chem. Res. Toxicol. 1995. 8: 506-514.

Background: Aflatoxin B1 is a toxin produced by a fungus (Aspergillus) which grows on cereal grains, various tree nuts and legumes. It is thought by many to be the most potent carcinogen known.   According to Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, “Aflatoxins have received greater attention than any other mycotoxins because of their demonstrated potent carcinogenic effect in susceptible laboratory animals and their acute toxicological effects in humans. As it is realized that absolute safety is never achieved, many countries have attempted to limit exposure to aflatoxins by imposing regulatory limits on commodities intended for use as food and feed.”(1)   Dietary exposure to Aflatoxin is associated with an increased risk of liver cancer (hepatocellular carcinoma).  Individuals with Hepatitis B (a virus that attacks the liver) are at particularly high risk. (2)

Laboratory Studies:  The researchers studied the effects of chlorophyllin on the cancer-causing and gene mutating effects of Aflatoxin B1.  They found that chlorophyllin chemically binds to Aflatoxin B1 reducing its ability to damage DNA. 

The researchers also studied the effect of feeding lab animals with a mixture of Aflatoxin B1 and chlorophyllin—they found that this mixture inhibited DNA damage in a dose-dependent way—meaning that the more chlorophyllin added, the less Aflatoxin B1 was able to damage DNA.

 The researchers concluded that chlorophyllin is able to bind to Aflatoxin B1 in such a way as to minimize its ability to damage DNA.  They associated this ability with the well-known anti-cancer effects of a diet high in green vegetables.

Comment by Dr. Chris Reynolds: Chlorophyllin is a commercial product  purported to contain chlorophyll. However this is highly unlikely as chlorophyll oxidizes rapidly and cannot be preserved for more than a day or two. Therefore, it appears that the researchers may have been misled in this study. The question therefore arises as to what other “ingredient(s)” in Chlorophyllin could possibly have produced such remarkable results.

1.  Aflatoxins

2.  Smela, ME., Currier, SS., Bailey, EA., Essigmann, JM. The chemistry and biology of aflatoxin B(1): from mutational spectrometry to carcinogenesis. Carcinogenesis. 2001 Apr;22(4):535-45.