Spermidine — a compound found in foods like aged cheese, mushrooms, soy products, legumes, corn and whole grains — seems to prevent (at least in animal models) liver fibrosis and hepatocellular carcinoma, which is the most common type of liver cancer. There is also some evidence that it may prolong lifespan, according to a study published recently in the journal Cancer Research.

Researchers gave animal models an oral supplement of spermidine and found that they lived longer and were less likely than untreated individuals to have liver fibrosis and cancerous liver tumors, even when predisposed for those conditions.

“It’s a dramatic increase in lifespan of animal models, as much as 25 percent,” said Leyuan Liu, PhD, assistant professor at the Texas A&M Institute of Biosciences and Technology’s Center for Translational Cancer Research. “In human terms, that would mean that instead of living to about 81 years old, the average American could live to be over 100.”

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Dr. Stegall’s Comments: This is very interesting research. While animal studies do not necessarily pertain to what will happen in humans, these results of this study will hopefully prompt human studies to see if we see the same results. It would not be surprising to one day learn that the anti-cancer benefits of medicinal mushrooms, soy, and other foods are due to spermidine.