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Anti-Cancer Gum

June 29, 2006

A new type of gum could help prevent some cancers.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):
Cancer-fighting chewing gum. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Ordinary chewing gum may fight bad breath, but a new kind of gum developed in Finland is going after a bigger fish: cancer. The secret ingredient is an amino acid called cysteine. According to University of Helsinki researcher Mikko Salaspuro, cysteine neutralizes a cancer-causing chemical that appears in saliva after smoking or drinking. When used immediately and consistently, the gum may protect the mouth, throat, and stomach from cancer. Of course, Salaspuro says it’s much better to avoid smoking or heavy drinking in the first place.

MIKKO SALASPURO (University of Helsinki):
But we know there are millions of people that can’t do it. That they just don’t want to, or if they try, they don’t succeed.

HIRSHON:
For those people, the gum may be a beneficial backup plan. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.