Vegetable compound may offer protection against `lethal` radiation doses

Washington: Researchers have said that a compound derived from cruciferous vegetable like cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli helps protect rats and mice from lethal doses of radiation.

Their study suggests the compound, known as DIM (3,3'-diindolylmethane), already shown to be safe for humans, may protect normal tissues during radiation therapy for cancer treatment and prevent or mitigate sickness caused by radiation exposure.

Study's corresponding author, Eliot Rosen, MD, PhD, of Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, said DIM has been studied as a cancer prevention agent for years, but this is the first indication that DIM can also act as a radiation protector.

For the study, the researchers irradiated rats with lethal doses of gamma ray radiation. The animals were then treated with a daily injection of DIM for two weeks, starting 10 minutes after the radiation exposure.

Rosen, a professor of oncology, biochemistry and cell and molecular biology, and radiation medicine, said that the result was stunning as all of the untreated rats died, but well over half of the DIM-treated animals remained alive 30 days after the radiation exposure.

Rosen adds that DIM also provided protection whether the first injection was administered 24 hours before or up to 24 hours after radiation exposure.

Rosen said that in addition, irradiated mice treated with DIM had less reduction in red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets - side effects often seen in patients undergoing radiation treatment for cancer.

The study has been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).