Colon cancer ranks as one of the deadliest diseases in the world. In the U.S. alone, 200,000 to 3 million new cases are reported every year, and nearly 50,000 patients lose the battle against the illness.
Dr. Nancy Turner, the lead author of the research and nutrition expert at Texas A&M University ’s Texas A&M AgriLife Research department, found that dried plums helps the body retain more healthy gut bacteria in the colon, leading to a lower risk of colon cancer.
Past studies also revealed that diet often plays a key role in the microbial makeup of the human colon. So far, researchers found that there are over 400 different species of bacteria in the intestines and trillions of microorganisms.
But a disruption in the gut bacteria in colon can lead to chronic inflation. Doctors have long known that prolonged inflammation can often lead to cancer later on.
Study authors explained that the phenolic compounds in dried plums also have an antiaging effect by reducing free radicals and their harmful effects on cells and tissue. These free radicals are also known to damage DNA.
Scientists tested whether phenolic compounds could stave off colon cancer on laboratory rats. Some rats were given dried plums while others were given normal diet. Both diets provided the same calorie intake and nutritional value.
The team then sampled tissue from the rats’ intestines to see what changes occurred in the colon’s gut bacteria. The team learned that dried plums raised the levels of a protective bacteria called Bacteroidetes and thus reduced inflammatory processes.
The control diet reduced the level of Bacteroidetes. Moreover, dried plums lowered the levels of aberrant crypt foci, or unusual clusters of glands that signal colon cancer is about to occur. These aberrant crypt foci are the first signs doctors observe in early stage colon cancer.
Researchers concluded that dried plums are highly effective in preventing inflammatory processes that can lead to colon cancer and precancerous lesions. The dried fruits promoted good intestine flora that can reduce recurrent inflammation and prevent lesions from forming.
Yet, study authors acknowledged that their findings were only preliminary and human trials are needed to see whether dried plumes can reduce cancer incidence in humans as well.
The study was recently presented at the Experimental Biology Conference in Boston.
Image Source: Wikimedia
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