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Does vegetables protect against colon cancer?
Why does some vegetables such as cabbage, broccoli and kale protect against the development of colon cancer? Researchers are now investigating possible causes of protection against cancer through the consumption of so-called cruciferous plants.
In their current investigation, the scientists at the Francis Crick Institute discovered why cabbage, broccoli and kale protect against colorectal cancer. The doctors published the results of their study in the English-language journal "Immunity".
Cruciferous plants protect against colon cancer
So-called cruciferous plants are healthy for the stomach and intestines, this has been known for a long time. But can broccoli and kale really protect against cancer? When cruciferous plants are digested, various substances are created that reduce the risk of colon cancer, the experts say.
Renewal of the intestine must be controlled
Research focused on how vegetables change the lining of the gut. Mice and miniature intestines that were bred in the laboratory for the study were examined. The surface of the intestine is continuously regenerated by a process that takes about four to five days. But this constant renewal must be strictly controlled, otherwise diseases such as cancer or intestinal inflammation can arise, explains study author Brigitta Stockinger from the Francis Crick Institute.
Indole-3-carbinol affects stem cells in the gut
By chewing certain types of vegetables, so-called indole-3-carbinol is produced. This indole-3-carbinol is then changed by the stomach acid, while the substance continues its journey through the digestive system, the scientists explain. Indole-3-carbinol can change the behavior of stem cells in the intestine, which are involved in the regeneration of the intestinal mucosa. Immune cells that control inflammation are also affected.
Without indole-3-carbinol, intestinal cells shared uncontrollably
The study found that a diet rich in indole-3-carbinol protects mice from cancer. This even applies to animals with genes that lead to a very high risk of cancer. Without such a type of diet, the intestinal cells shared uncontrollably, the researchers explain. Even if the mice started developing tumors and switched to the right diet, the progression of the tumors was stopped. Signs of colorectal cancer include blood in the stool, changes in bowel habits, abdominal pain and bloating.
More research is needed
A lot of nutritional advice changes regularly. This can be very confusing for people who actually want to eat healthy. The study in mice suggests that fiber not only lowers the risk of colon cancer, but also molecules found in certain types of vegetables. More research needs to be done now to find out if the molecules in these types of vegetables have the same effect in humans. (as)