Chlorophyllin reduces Aflatoxin indicators among people at risk for liver cancer

November 26, 2001

A study conducted by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health shows that taking chlorophyllin greatly reduces the levels of aflatoxin-DNA damage byproducts in the body, which are indicators of exposure to carcinogenic aflatoxins and increased risk of liver cancer. Chlorophyllin is a derivative of chlorophyll and is used as an over-the-counter diet supplement and as a food colorant. The results appear in the November 27, 2001 edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"Our study shows that taking chlorophyllin three times a day reduced the amounts of aflatoxin-DNA damage by 55 percent, compared with taking a placebo," says Thomas Kensler, PhD, professor of environmental health sciences at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. "Taking chlorophyllin or eating green vegetables, like spinach, that are rich in chlorophyll may be a practical way of reducing the risk of liver cancer and other cancers caused by environmental triggers," explains Dr. Kensler.

Dr. Kensler and his colleagues conducted a double-blind study among residents of Qidong, China. The people of the region have an extraordinarily high rate of liver cancer, which is due in part from routinely eating foods contaminated with carcinogenic aflatoxins. The aflatoxin is produced by molds found in foods like corn, peanuts, soy sauce, and fermented soybeans.

For the study, researchers recruited 180 healthy adults. Half of the group was given 100 mg tablets of chlorophyllin to take three times a day with meals for four months. The other half was given a placebo. Urine and blood samples were taken over four months to determine the effects of chlorophyllin on excretion of aflatoxin-DNA damage products.

According to the study's results, the people who took chlorophyllin showed a 55 percent reduction in aflatoxin-DNA damage, compared to the placebo group.

"Studies conducted by our co-author, George Bailey of Oregon State University, have suggested that chlorophyllin acts as an 'interceptor molecule' to block the absorption of aflatoxins and carcinogens in the diet," explains John Groopman, PhD, professor and chairman of the Department of Environmental Health Sciences at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. "Our study shows that chlorophyllin can effectively reduce aflatoxin levels, which should reduce the risk of liver cancer. Since chlorophyllin is found in many foods or can be easily added to the diet, it could be a safe and effective prevention method. The study adds to the evidence that green vegetables contain effective anticarcinogens," adds Dr. Groopman.

Follow up studies are planned to determine whether this early protective action of chlorophyllin extends to either delay the onset or reduce the incidence of liver cancer.

Patricia Egner, Jin-Bing Wang, Yuan-Rong Zhu, Bao-Chu Zhang, Geng-Sun Qian, Shuang-Yuan Kuang, Stephen J. Gange, Lisa P. Jacobson, Kathy J. Helzlsouer, George S. Bailey, John D. Groopman, and Thomas W. Kensler assisted in the research and writing of the article "Chlorophyllin intervention reduces aflatoxin-DNA adducts in individuals at high risk for liver cancer."
The study was funded by grants from the U.S. Public Health Service, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

This news release may be found on the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health website at Copies of the article are available to reporters from the PNAS news office, tel. 202-334-2138, or email

Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health

Related Public Health Articles from Brightsurf:

COVID-19 and the decolonization of Indigenous public health
Indigenous self-determination, leadership and knowledge have helped protect Indigenous communities in Canada during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, and these principles should be incorporated into public health in future, argue the authors of a commentary in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal)

Public health consequences of policing homelessness
In a new study examining homelessness, researchers find that policy such a lifestyle has massive public health implications, making sleeping on the street even MORE unhealthy.

Electronic health information exchange improves public health disease reporting
Disease tracking is an important area of focus for health departments in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pandemic likely to cause long-term health problems, Yale School of Public Health finds
The coronavirus pandemic's life-altering effects are likely to result in lasting physical and mental health consequences for many people--particularly those from vulnerable populations--a new study led by the Yale School of Public Health finds.

The Lancet Public Health: US modelling study estimates impact of school closures for COVID-19 on US health-care workforce and associated mortality
US policymakers considering physical distancing measures to slow the spread of COVID-19 face a difficult trade-off between closing schools to reduce transmission and new cases, and potential health-care worker absenteeism due to additional childcare needs that could ultimately increase mortality from COVID-19, according to new modelling research published in The Lancet Public Health journal.

The Lancet Public Health: Access to identification documents reflecting gender identity may improve trans mental health
Results from a survey of over 20,000 American trans adults suggest that having access to identification documents which reflect their identified gender helps to improve their mental health and may reduce suicidal thoughts, according to a study published in The Lancet Public Health journal.

The Lancet Public Health: Study estimates mental health impact of welfare reform, Universal Credit, in Great Britain
The 2013 Universal Credit welfare reform appears to have led to an increase in the prevalence of psychological distress among unemployed recipients, according to a nationally representative study following more than 52,000 working-age individuals from England, Wales, and Scotland over nine years between 2009-2018, published as part of an issue of The Lancet Public Health journal on income and health.

BU researchers: Pornography is not a 'public health crisis'
Researchers from the Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) have written an editorial in the American Journal of Public Health special February issue arguing against the claim that pornography is a public health crisis, and explaining why such a claim actually endangers the health of the public.

The Lancet Public Health: Ageism linked to poorer health in older people in England
Ageism may be linked with poorer health in older people in England, according to an observational study of over 7,500 people aged over 50 published in The Lancet Public Health journal.

Study: Public transportation use linked to better public health
Promoting robust public transportation systems may come with a bonus for public health -- lower obesity rates.

Read More: Public Health News and Public Health Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to