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Laxative may prevent colon cancer

TOULOUSE, FRANCE. French researchers report that high molecular weight polyethylene-glycols are highly effective in preventing the development of precancerous lesions and tumors in the colons of laboratory rats. Polyethylene-glycols (PEGs) of the type used in the experiments are commonly used as laxatives in France (PEG 3350); they are not absorbed or metabolized and have no known toxicity. The rats were exposed to two cancer-causing agents (nitrosamine and heterocyclic amine) and were then given either normal drinking water or water containing five per cent PEG for 30 or 162 days. At the end of the tests the rats who had received PEG had 20 times fewer carcinomas than did the rats given normal drinking water. The researchers speculate that PEG may quickly reverse or regress cancerous lesions (aberrant crypt foci) in the human colon and thereby prevent colorectal cancer in people at risk. They recommend that a clinical trial involving humans be carried out to test this assumption.
Corpet, Denis E., et al. Consistent and fast inhibition of colon carcinogenesis by polyethylene glycol in mice and rats given various carcinogens. Cancer Research, Vol. 60, June 15, 2000, pp. 3160-64

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