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US (CA): Compounds found in vegetables lead to melanoma treatment

A major advance in preventing skin cancer inspired by compounds found in certain vegetables could soon be added to sunscreens to help prevent skin damage from becoming melanoma. Despite a billion dollars a year in sunscreen sales, skin cancer is on the rise. "My wife and I are aware of it and use sunscreen every time we come to the beach," Oakland resident Darrell McDowell told KTVU when he was asked about the dangers of skin cancer. Additional risks are posed by a genetic disposition to be susceptible to melanoma. "My mother has had numerous precancerous things removed," said San Leandro resident Linda Leboa. "I always try to put on the highest sunscreen that I can," said Leboa’s 14-year-old son Christopher. But sunscreen does nothing to treat precancerous spots that can become melanoma.

Penn State scientists looked to rectify this by studying anti-cancer compounds found in broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts. Researchers Tuesday told KTVU that the naturally occurring anti-cancer molecule in broccoli is just too weak to be used as chemotherapy. But by tinkering with the molecule, they were able to create a new dramatically effective anti-melanoma compound. Penn State scientists have published a new study showing a cream containing what is called isoselenocyanate-4 reduced pre-melanoma tumors 80 percent in human skin with no significant side effects. "They might be an additional thing to add to sunscreens and body lotions that would add an additional melanoma protective," said UCSF cancer researcher Prof. Martin McMahon. Still, McMahon insisted that despite the breakthrough, nothing is better than prevention when it comes to skin cancer. "Minimizing exposure in the first place," said McMahon. "And I think if you can do that, that would further prevent the prevalence of melanoma."

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Publication date: 4/27/2011


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