Good News for Cheese Lovers, Kill Cancer with Dairy Preservatives

Cheese contains a natural food preservative, nisin, which can destroy cancer cells.

Cheese contains a natural food preservative, nisin, which can destroy cancer cells.

A recent study published in the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, the positive benefits of nisin — a colorless and tasteless powder that grows on brie, camembert, and cheddar cheese.

Previous studies found high doses of nisin could improve oral health when measured among foods at a quantity of 0.25 to 37.4mg. Meanwhile, the current study isolated and purified nisin, giving a dose of 800mg in the form of a milkshake to mice with neck tumors.

Yvonne Kapila, MD, professor at the University of Michigan School of Dentistry, and colleagues studied nisin in cancerous tumors and as an antimicrobial to combat diseases of the mouth.

After a 9-week period, the nisin treatment killed between 70-80% of the cancer cells.

The preservative was also shown to fight deadly bacteria like antibiotic-resistant MRSA and Kapila’s group observed experimental uses of nisin to treat 30 different types of cancer; infections of the skin, respiratory system, and abdomen; and oral health.

Despite promising results, the findings are limited and only in mice, so it’s too soon to tell whether nisin would react similarly in humans. The next immediate step for Kapila is to test nisin in a clinical setting.

“The application of nisin has advanced beyond its role as a food biopreservative. Current findings and other published data support nisin’s potential use to treat antibiotic resistant infections, periodontal disease, and cancer,” Kapila concluded in a news release.