Evaluation of chemoprevention of oral cancer with Spirulina fusiformis

Nutr Cancer. 1995;24(2):197-202. doi: 10.1080/01635589509514407.

Abstract

The blue-green microalgae Spirulina, used in daily diets of natives in Africa and America, have been found to be a rich natural source of proteins, carotenoids, and other micronutrients. Experimental studies in animal models have demonstrated an inhibitory effect of Spirulina algae on oral carcinogenesis. Studies among preschool children in India have demonstrated Spirulina fusiformis (SF) to be an effective source of dietary vitamin A. We evaluated the chemopreventive activity of SF (1 g/day for 12 mos) in reversing oral leukoplakia in pan tobacco chewers in Kerala, India. Complete regression of lesions was observed in 20 of 44 (45%) evaluable subjects supplemented with SF, as opposed to 3 of 43 (7%) in the placebo arm (p < 0.0001). When stratified by type of leukoplakia, the response was more pronounced in homogeneous lesions: complete regression was seen in 16 of 28 (57%) subjects with homogeneous leukoplakia, 2 of 8 with erythroplakia, 2 of 4 with verrucous leukoplakia, and 0 of 4 with ulcerated and nodular lesions. Within one year of discontinuing supplements, 9 of 20 (45%) complete responders with SF developed recurrent lesions. Supplementation with SF did not result in increased serum concentration of retinol or beta-carotene, nor was it associated with toxicity. This is the first human study evaluating the chemopreventive potential of SF. More studies in different settings and different populations are needed for further evaluation.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Carotenoids / blood
  • Cyanobacteria* / chemistry
  • Female
  • Food, Fortified
  • Humans
  • India
  • Leukoplakia, Oral / blood
  • Leukoplakia, Oral / diet therapy
  • Leukoplakia, Oral / prevention & control*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mouth Neoplasms / blood
  • Mouth Neoplasms / diet therapy
  • Mouth Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Remission Induction
  • Vitamin A / analysis
  • Vitamin A / blood
  • Vitamin A / standards
  • Vitamin A / therapeutic use
  • beta Carotene

Substances

  • beta Carotene
  • Vitamin A
  • Carotenoids