Researchers have shown that, in mice, the cough medicine ingredient noscapine inhibits prostate tumor growth and also limits the spread of tumors without causing any side-effects. Noscapine, a non-addictive derivative of opium, has been used worldwide since the 1950s as an ingredient in over-the-counter cough medicines and was originally suggested as an anti-cancer agent in the early 1960s--but major studies of its anti-cancer properties have only taken place in recent years. The current research focused on pre-treating mice with noscapine before injecting them with prostate cancer cells. This resulted in the tumor growth rate being two-thirds lower in the noscapine group than in a non-noscapine group. The study also found that metastasis rates to the lung were 80 percent lower in the mice pre-treated with noscapine. The scientists further noted that the noscapine group suffered no cancer-related weight loss--compared with significant weight loss in the non-noscapine group. They concluded that noscapine administered as a preventive measure may offer significant benefits in the management of prostate cancer, a disease that kills more than 28,000 men in the U.S. each year. The research team is now hoping to further its efforts by examining the effects of noscapine as a prophylactic agent given to patients following prostate cancer surgery or radiation. "Based on our research so far, we believe that noscapine could be a very promising treatment to prevent recurrence in such cases due to its excellent safety record and oral bioavailability," said co-author Dr. Israel Barker, Founder and Medical Director of the Prostate Cancer Research and Education Foundation. This new pre-clinical research was reported in Volume 30(2) of Anticancer Research.
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