Indian Veterinary Research Institute, Eastern Regional Station, Kolkata, India
Chronic arsenicosis is a major environmental health hazard throughout the world, including India. Animals and human beings are affected due to drinking of arsenic contaminated ground water, due to natural mineral deposits, arsenical pesticides or improperly disposed arsenical chemicals. Arsenic causes cancer with production of free radicals and reactive oxygen species (ROS) that are neutralized by an elaborate antioxidant defense system consisting of enzymes and numerous non-enzymatic antioxidants. Dietary antioxidant supplements are useful to counteract the carcinogenesis effects of arsenic. Oyster mushroom lectins can be regarded as ingredients of popular foods with biopharmaceutical properties. A variety of compounds have been isolated from mushrooms, which include polysaccharides and polysaccharopeptides with immune-enhancing effects. Lectins are beneficial in reducing arsenic toxicity due to anticarcinogenetic roles and may have therapeutic application in people suffering from chronic exposure to arsenic from natural sources, a global problem that is especially relevant to millions of people on the Indian subcontinent.