According to a recent study, eating dried plums (or prunes) greatly diminishes the risk of developing colon cancer.
Research was conducted by scientists at Texas A&M University and the University of North Carolina. The findings were revealed at the 2015 Experimental Biology conference, which was held in Boston.
The experiment involved lab rats that were divided into 2 separate groups: one group was assigned to a diet that included dried plums, whereas the other group didn’t incorporate these sweet snacks into the daily meals.
Overall however, both categories consumed the same amount of calories and the same type of nutrients, to pinpoint precisely if dried plums would prove beneficial.
After this first stage of the trial, scientists analyzed tissues pertaining to various colon segments, as well as the intestinal contents of the animals.
It was determined that rats that had been fed dried plums had heightened levels of Bacteroidetes, and lower levels of Firmicutes in the hind gut (the last part of the colon). On the other hand, rats that followed a standard diet without prunes had fewer Bacteroidetes and more numerous Firmicutes in this distal section of the colon.
Scientists also discovered that rats which had been consuming high quantities of dried plums had a much lower number of aberrant crypts foci.
These are clusters of abnormal glands, which appear in the lining of the colon and rectum. Their prevalence is linked to colorectal polyps, and usually they mark one of the earliest changes that may lead to colon cancer.
Therefore, as researchers explain, this reduction in the percentage of abberant crypts, coupled with the presence of protective bacteria in the gut, suggests that dried plums may play an active role in preventing the onset of colon cancer.
Based on these findings, scientists imply that incorporating dried plums into daily diet may support the metabolism of gut bacteria, and lower the risk of malignant tumors.
The reason why prunes are so useful in countering intestinal inflammation that progresses to cancer may be linked to their phenolic compounds. These elements, which function as antioxidants, provide protection against free radicals, and play a vital role in cancer prevention.
Previous studies have also proved that certain nutrients can influence the onset of colon cancer. For example, red meat consumption heightens the risk of developing the disease, whereas whole grains, fruit and vegetables diminish this possibility.
Currently, colon cancer is the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States, and the lifetime risk of developing the condition is of approximately 1 in 20.
Overall, the mortality rate associated with it has been decreasing lately, due to the fact that screenings allow precancerous polyps to be found before turning malignant. Nevertheless, as American Cancer Society has warned, 49,700 deaths will be caused by colon cancer by the end of the year.
Image Source: Flickr