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Talcum Powder Stunts Tumor Growth

A new study published in the European Respiratory Journal reveals that talcum powder can slow tumor growth and even decrease tumor bulk. The study conducted by researchers at the University of Florida concluded that talc can inhibit tumor growth by limiting the formation of blood vessels in metastatic lung tumors. The study claims that talc encourages the production of endostatin which is currently being investigated as an anti-angiogenic agent for cancer treatment. Endostatin was once considered a magic bullet for cancer treatment after its discovery in 1997. However many clinical trials involving endostatin have been disappointing. The study concluded that since most clinical trials of endostatin involved direct injection instead of focusing on cellular production that it is likely that it was broken down before it could begin targeting tumors. Talc is currently used in medical procedures to treat patients who have fluid build ups in the pleura which is the hollow space between the chest and lungs. When fluid collects in the pleura (pleural effusion) it begins to press against the lungs causing shortness of breath. To partially remedy the problem, doctors perform a procedure called thorascopic talc pleurodesis where talc is blown into the gap to produce abrasions in tissue lining the pleura. It contracts while healing and the tissues on both sides begin to permanently attach and remove the pleural space. The procedure is considered one of the most useful palliative procedures as patients who undergo pleurodesis often live an average of 18 months longer. This could indicate the value of endostatin as with patients who had pleurodesis have elevated levels of endostatin in the days immediately following the procedure.