Locate your nearest distributor

Text search:
Forgot password?

News Archive

New Acetium capsule designed to reduce carcinogenic acetaldehyde

25.05.2010 06:30

The new Acetium capsule, developed by Biohit Oyj/Finland, reduces carcinogenic acetaldehyde in the stomach. This over-the-counter product will be available in pharmacies in Finland from May 26th 2010.

The Acetium capsule is recommended for people who have low-acid or anacidic stomachs, suffer from chronic Helicobacter pylori infections or are undergoing long-term treatment with medications that reduce gastric acid secretion (PPI drugs and H2 blockers), since microbes produce acetaldehyde in anacidic stomachs. In addition, acetaldehyde in tobacco smoke reaches the stomach by dissolving in the smoker’s saliva. An acid-free stomach, a Helicobacter pylori infection and smoking are the most important risk factors for stomach cancer. Furthermore, an acid-free stomach and smoking are also independent risk factors for oesophageal cancer.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), which forms part of the World Health Organisation, has classified acetaldehyde contained in alcoholic beverages or produced from alcohol endogenously (e.g. in the gastrointestinal tract) as a Group I carcinogen. The above WHO classification places it in the same risk group as, for example, asbestos and tobacco. Exposure to acetaldehyde is connected to around 4 million new cases of cancer worldwide every year, or close to 40 per cent of all cancers.

"Acetaldehyde has been proven to be the most likely cause of gastric cancers in patients with anacidic stomachs", explains Professor Mikko Salaspuro of the University of Helsinki, who has been researching the detrimental effects of acetaldehyde for more than 30 years. "Approximately 500 million people worldwide are affected by this, almost 100,000 of them in Finland. Until now, there has been no way of reducing their cancer risk apart from quitting smoking. The same is true of the hundreds of millions of people with untreated or treatment-resistant chronic Helicobacter pylori infections."

Salaspuro compares acetaldehyde research to research on cholesterol. In both cases, key evidence has been gained from genetic studies. Gene mutations found in a certain segment of the population heighten susceptibility to acetaldehyde or cholesterol and thereby the risk of cancers and vascular diseases.

Acetaldehyde is primarily produced from alcohol but also from sugar in an anacidic stomach

Salaspuro points out: "The cancer risk posed by acetaldehyde is increased by the fact that we are consuming the substance all the time and via different sources."  

Acetaldehyde is a key product generated during both the fermentation process and the burning of alcohol. Calvados, sherry, port wine, and certain fruit-based sweet wines have a particularly high acetaldehyde content resulting from fermentation.

High concentrations of the substance are also found in many other fermentation-based drinks and foodstuffs. In addition, many of our everyday foods and beverages contain small amounts of alcohol, from which microbes in the gastrointestinal tract efficiently generate high concentrations of acetaldehyde in the mouth and an anacidic stomach, resulting in damage to cell DNA. In such a case, they receive their energy from sugar which transforms into ethanol via acetaldehyde with the help of alcoholic fermentation. Therefore, an anacidic stomach can generate notable concentrations of alcohol and acetaldehyde even if no alcohol is consumed.

Whenever possible, cancer prevention is the number one goal with respect to individuals and society. The prognosis for people diagnosed with stomach or oesophageal cancer is very poor. No more than five to ten per cent of such patients are still alive within five years of the diagnosis. Attempts to improve this prognosis have included regular endoscopies of the oesophagus and stomach with the purpose of detecting and treating cancer at the earliest stage possible.

Salaspuro continues: "For the first time ever, Acetium now offers a realistic possibility of preventing gastric cancers."

Acetium effectively binds acetaldehyde in anacidic stomachs

Classified as medical device, the Acetium capsule contains 100 mg of vegetable L-cysteine as an active ingredient. L-cysteine is a perfectly safe, natural amino acid, small amounts of which is digested daily along with proteins in regular food.

"However, cysteine is absorbed from food only in the duodenum and therefore does not reduce the acetaldehyde concentration in the stomach", explains Product Development Manager, MSc (Pharm) Tuuli Marvola of Biohit. "The L-cysteine in the Acetium capsule spreads slowly and evenly in the stomach, effectively binding to the acetaldehyde molecule and rendering it inactive."

Acetium capsules are taken together with meals or alcoholic beverages.

Clinical studies have proven that 200 mg of L-cysteine, the dose contained in two Acetium capsules, can bind acetaldehyde for at least 45 minutes.

In collaboration with University of Helsinki scientists and in-house scientific advisers, Biohit has developed an array of methods which significantly help reduce the exposure of the gastrointestinal tract (mouth, pharynx, oesophagus and stomach) to carcinogenic acetaldehyde. The company has pending and granted patents in several countries

Further information about Acetium.