Sea air helps against cancer and cholesterol

(24-01-2019) Breathing in sea air helps to beat cancer and to prevent a high cholesterol, research shows by Ghent University and the Flanders Marine Institute.

Have you ever heard of sea spray? That’s what researchers call vaporized sea water in the air. Sea spray contains natural substances produced by algae and bacteria, which are good for your health. By breathing in sea air, you also ingest these substances.

Air samples

Ghent University researchers have studied the effects of these substances in sea air on our genes.

“We took samples of sea air, which we analysed in the lab”, Emmanuel Van Acker (faculty of Bioscience Engineering) explains. “Then we exposed human lung cancer cells to these air samples and studied their health effects. We focused on the effect on our genes and compared it with other results.”

Slowing down genes

The results showed that sea air is slowing down the functioning of a gene that plays a key role in the development of lung cancer and an increasing cholesterol level.

Jana Asselman (faculty of Bioscience Engineering): “When this gene is slowed down, lung cancer cells die and the cholesterol level decreases, as previous studies showed. New potential cancer therapies and the latest cholesterol reducers affect the same gene. Knowing that sea air also reduces the functioning of this gene, we expect that sea air will have a similar positive effect on human health.”

Future research

Research is still ongoing. Right now, the research team is trying to find out which substances in sea air are causing these effects. They try to understand what these substances are doing to other cells in our body.

The study has been published in the scientific journal Scientific Reports, with public access.

More information

Jana Asselman
Emmanuel Van Acker

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