Chinese herb remedy extract linked to cancer: Study
WASHINGTON (AFP) - A plant extract used in Chinese herbal remedies for arthritis, gout and inflammation has been directly linked to cancer and causes a surprising number of genetic mutations, scientists said on Wednesday.
The gene signature of aristolochic acid - derived from a vine known as birthwort - was found in tumours from 19 upper urinary tract cancer patients from Taiwan.
Scientists have long known that the acid was a carcinogen, but the new study shows for the first time that it causes far more genetic mutations than smoking-related lung cancer or ultraviolet radiation-associated with skin cancer.
Tumours in people exposed to the herb had about 150 mutations per megabase, compared to eight in smoking-related lung cancers and 111 in UV-related melanomas, said the study in the US journal Science Translational Medicine.