Opium Consumption and the Incidence of Cancer: Does Opium Account as an Emerging Risk Factor for Gastrointestinal Cancer?
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Some epidemiological studies have shown an association between opium consumption and the incidence of gastrointestinal (GI) cancer. The present study was designed to investigate the effects of opium on the initiation of GI cancer in rats.
Forty-five rats were randomly divided into three groups; each received different treatment for 40 weeks. The rats in group 1 received purified water, while animals in group 2 were treated with 5 mg/kg diethylnitrosamine (DEN) orally for 8 weeks and continued with purified water by the end of the experiment. The third experimental group received 300 mg/kg opium for 16 weeks and then continued with 50 mg/kg phenobarbital by the end of the 40th week. The growth of tumors in the treated groups was assessed by histological changes and the up/down expression of p53, cdkn1, cdk2, e-cdh, and n-cdh genes in different parts of GI tract.
Histological examinations revealed that DEN was able to induce the growth of tumor in GI tract as shown by active mitotic figure in different regions of GI system and hyperplasia of hepatocytes associated with infiltration of inflammatory cells, intestinal villous hypertrophy, and colorectal adenoma. There was also significant (p < 0.05) overexpression of p53, cdk2, and n-Cdh genes in different parts of digestive system in DEN-treated group. However, these pathological changes and the degradation of gene expression were not observed in the opium-treated group.
The results of this study suggest that the opium does not promote the initiation of cancer in GI tract.
KeywordsDiethylnitrosamine Opium Cancer Gastrointestinal tract
We would like to thank the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research in Iraq and the University of Tehran for funding this study. Special thanks to Dr. Hossein Golami and Dr. Hassan Khalaf Al-Qaraghouli for preparation of some pathological pictures of tissues.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
The experimental protocol has been approved by the institutional Animal care and use Committee.
Conflict of Interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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