The researchers focused on the cancer-killing properties of nisin, a colorless, tasteless powder widely used as a food preservative.

The researchers found that feeding rats a 'nisin milkshake' killed 70-80 percent of head and neck tumour cells after nine weeks and extended survival.

The mice were given a highly purified nisin dosage of  800 mg/kg. Nisin is typically added to food at the rate of .25 to 37.5 mg/kg. Many foods contain nisin, but nowhere near the 800 mg/kg needed to kill cancer cells.

Several products available to consumers also contain nisin - creams and pharmaceuticals to fight infection and mastitis, and a sanitiser in lactating cows.

Nisin also fights deadly bacteria such as antibiotic-resistant MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus).

The findings will appear in a forthcoming issue of the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy.


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