Preservatives Found In Cheese Could Kill Cancer Cells, Superbugs: Study

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Jonathan Knowles via Getty Images
Jonathan Knowles via Getty Images

It's the kind of science news that would make anyone feel gouda.

New research from the University of Michigan suggests nisin, a naturally occurring food preservative found in dairy products like milk and cheese, can help fight cancer and deadly antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

The study, which will publish its findings in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, gave "nisin milkshakes" to rat test subjects with head and neck tumour cells.

After nine weeks, 70 to 80 per cent of the tumours had been killed, professor Dr. Yvonne Kapila of the University of Michigan School of Dentistry said in a statement.

"To date, nobody had found bacteria from humans or living animals that is resistant to nisin," she said.

According to the research, nisin is a nontoxic, colourless and tasteless powder typically added to dairy foods as a food preservative. About .25 ro 37.5 mg/kg is added to foods humans eat, but researchers say at least 800 mg/kg is needed to kill cancer cells.

A previous study published in Science in 1999, found low doses of nisin Z found in milk and cheese could kill dangerous superbugs as well, similar to the findings in this study, WebMD notes.

And besides tasting delicious — on basically everything, anytime of the day — other studies have discovered diets rich in cheese might give you a metabolic boost as well.

This research is yet to be conducted on human patients, but Kapila says this will be the next step.

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