Chances are, you've never heard of nisin. It sounds eerily like ricin, a poison used in a number of terrorist attacks. But that's where the similarities stop. In fact, while ricin will kill you, nisin might actually save your life -- and best of all, you get it by eating cheese.
Researchers from the University of Michigan have found that nisin, a naturally occurring food preservative that grows on dairy products, can combat both cancerous tumors and antibiotic-resistant bacteria. In case you're not a scientist: that's a big deal. In the study, researchers fed "rats a 'nisin milkshake'" which "killed 70-80 percent of head and neck tumor cells after nine weeks and extended survival," according to a release by the university.
Nisin most often is found in dairy products, like cheese, but in small amounts, or about 25 to 37.5 mg per kilo. Combatting cancer requires a much greater amount of nisin, about 800 mg/kg. So no, you can't just eat a wedge-load of cheese after a bad diagnosis. But the findings mean there is hope, and it's all thanks to your melty, gooey, dairy favorites.
Additionally, nisin was found to combat antibiotic-resistant bacteria, including MRSA, which otherwise can be deadly. In fact, "To date, nobody had found bacteria from humans or living animals that is resistant to nisin," Dr. Yvonne Kapila, a professor at the University of Michigan School of Dentistry, said.
Along with cheese, processed meats, and canned foods often use nisin as a preservative. So the next time someone offers you a cheese board, of course, you should say, "yes." Because cheese is delicious. But it also might help find the cure for cancer.
Sign up here for our daily Thrillist email, and get your fix of the best in food/drink/fun.