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Byline: Abram Katz
May 20--Most gardeners are familiar with sphagnum moss, a spongy material that holds water well, conditions soil and, over time, builds up into peat bogs.
The unassuming moss is also a primitive plant that has had millions of years to perfect defenses against microbes and other parasites.
That may explain why Sphagnum cymbifolium appears to be a potent anticancer agent, based on research conducted at Southern Connecticut State University.
Sarah Crawford, director of the cancer biology laboratory at Southern, and Erin Boisvert, 23, an accomplished senior, have patented an extract of sphagnum moss that rapidly kills cancer cells in a test tube.
Crawford, Boisvert and colleagues also have found a chemical in tumeric that kills cancer and is looking at several other plants.
The next step is to analyze the multitude of chemicals in the sphagnum moss extract and determine which are the most poisonous to cancer cells. The research already was sufficiently …