The researchers from the University of Texas at Arlington in Texas suggested that zinc supplements can significantly inhibit the proliferation of esophageal cancer -cancer of the tube that runs from the throat to the stomach.
They explained that zinc impedes overactive calcium signals in cancer cells, which is absent in normal cells, and thus, zinc selectively inhibits cancer cell growth.
Team lead Zui Pan from said that zinc selectively halts the growth of cancer cells, but not normal esophageal epithelial cells.
Pan added that this study could provide a pathway for better esophageal cancer prevention and treatment.
Zinc deficiency has been found in many cancer patients and both clinical data and animal studies have shown that this mineral is very important for overall body health and for cancer prevention, Pan noted.
Zinc is an important element in many proteins and enzymes and in its absence, it is impossible for cells to function, the authors explained.
"It now appears that zinc and calcium can have a cross talk, meaning that they can be linked."
An insufficient amount of zinc can lead to the development of cancers and other diseases, Pan said.
"That's why it is important to have a good diet," she said.
Zinc enriched foods include spinach, flax seeds, beef, pumpkin seeds and seafood like shrimp and oysters.
Pan said that in the future they will study these two signals link, how they impact each other and how researchers can take advantage of what they know. Such a step will guide them in developing a better prevention and treatment strategy, she said.
The research appeared in the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology journal. (ANI)