Shanghai’s Zhongshan Hospital Researchers Find Certain Chinese Herbal Medicines Causing Liver Cancer

Oct 11, 2019 | Aristolochic Acids, China, Chinese Traditional Medicine, Liver Cancer

A research team from Shanghai’s Zhongshan Hospital joined by two Shanghai institutes under the Chinese Academy of Sciences have discovered that one-third of liver cancer samples features a mutation caused by aristolochic acids and connect this to the clinical use of herbal plans with these acids.

The team was researching hepatitis B-related liver cancer while pursuing the development of a genetic map of the disease. The results were published in the journal Cell as reported in Shine.

Liver Cancer in China

Liver cancer is the second most deadly cancer in China while also being the fourth most common type of cancer. 50% of the world’s liver cancer deaths occur in China. Shine reports about 85% of all liver cancer patients in China have a history with hepatitis B infection.

The Study

Researchers found that a great number of Chinese hepatitis B patients were consuming a traditional Chinese medicine treatment and that improper use was connected with liver cancer. The research found that 35% of the samples contained aristolochic acids’ signature mutation and these were connected with the mutation of liver cancer’s immunity.

Investigator Comment

Gao Qiang, Zhongshan Hospital reported “It means many patients with hepatitis B have tried herbal plans and herbs containing aristolochic acids, which has contributed to their liver cancer. So we recommend careful use of herbal plants containing aristolochic acids.” China has banned the use of hers with high aristolochic acid content.

About Zhongshan Hospital

The Shanghai-based hospital is affiliated with the Shanghai Medical College of Fudan University. Opened in 1937, its name commemorates President Sun Yan-Sen (Sun Zhongshan).

In the past it has been named one China’s “100 Best Hospitals.”  It has 2,005 beds serving 100,000 inpatients and 4 million outpatients and emergency visits per year. With more than 4,000 employees this includes 600 professor-level physicians, two members of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

It includes all clinical specialties except pediatrics. It has been designated as the Shanghai Clinical Center for Cardiovascular Diseases and Liver Cancer. The Shanghai Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases, the Liver Cancer Institute of Fudan University, the Institute of Vascular Surgery of Fudan University and the Nuclear Medicine Institute of Fudan University are major research centers in the hospital.

Lead Research/Investigator

Gao Qiang, Zhongshan Hospital

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    Bio: Dr. Ohad Bentur received his MD from the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, Israel and his MHA from the Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Israel. He completed his internal medicine residency and hematology fellowship at the Tel Aviv Medical Center, Israel. As a Clinical Scholar, Dr. Bentur will focus on molecular analysis of patients with bleeding disorders and genotype-phenotype correlation analysis in these patients. He will try to identify genetic modifiers in patients with less severe bleeding symptoms than expected based on the severity of their coagulation abnormality.

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