Vegetables can help Prevent Colon Cancer

Vegetables can help Prevent Colon Cancer

If you want to save yourself from colon cancer, vegetables like Cabbage and Broccoli may offer the perfect solution.

Green vegetables are often considered a healthy form of diet due to higher quantities of fiber and other useful nutrients. The fact that they are free from fats is another massive advantage which adds to their utility. Despite all the claims, scientists didn’t have any scientific evidence to prove that the consumption of vegetables is beneficial for humans. Things might change pretty swiftly following the latest research at the Francis Crick Institute. According to the study published in the ‘Immunity’, the chemicals produced by the vegetables, like Broccoli, Kale, and Cabbage, allow you to avoid colon cancer by maintaining a healthy gut.

The scientists, involved in this research, used a group of mice for their experiments. These mice were fed a diet rich in Indole-3-Carbinol (I3C) and the results showed that it helped the animals to fight against gut inflammation and colon cancer. According to researchers, I3C does that by activating the Aryl Hydrocarbon receptor (AhR). It is a protein which acts as an environmental sensor and passes signals to the immune system of the body to trigger Epithelial and Immune cells in the gut. These cells make sure that no inflammatory responses are generated for the bacteria living inside our bodies. Dr. Amina Metidji, the First Author of the study, explained their working to the world and said,

We studied genetically modified mice that cannot produce or activate AhR in their guts and found that they readily developed gut inflammation which progressed to colon cancer. However, when we fed them a diet enriched with I3C, they did not develop inflammation or cancer. Interestingly, when mice whose cancer was already developing were switched to the I3C-enriched diet, they ended up with significantly fewer tumors which were also more benign.”

The detailed study of the gut organoids of the mice revealed that AhR is critical for the repairing of epithelial cells because the cells of the intestinal stem cannot differentiate the specialized cells that generate mucus or absorb useful nutrients in the absence of this protein. This leads us to an uncontrollable division of intestinal cells which ultimately results in colon cancer. According to a popular belief, a diet offering a poor quantity of vegetables and a lot of fat catalyzes the development of colon cancer. We can never oppose these claims but we can surely play an active part in hindering this fatal disease. Dr. Gitta Stockinger, the Group Leader at the Francis Crick Institute who is also a Senior Author of this research, mentioned that in the following words:

We often think of colon cancer as a disease promoted by a Western diet rich in fat and poor in vegetable content, and our results suggest a mechanism behind this observation. Many vegetables produce chemicals that keep AhR stimulated in the gut. We found that AhR-promoting chemicals in the diet can correct defects caused by insufficient AhR stimulation. This can restore epithelial cell differentiation, offering resistance to intestinal infections and preventing colon cancer. These findings are a cause for optimism; while we can’t change the genetic factors that increase our risk of cancer, we can probably mitigate these risks by adopting an appropriate diet with plenty of vegetables.”

The researching team made another observation in this experiment which was quite surprising for them. The standard grain-chow fed to laboratory mice offers a balanced mixture of nutrients. For sake of this research, some of the mice were given exact mixtures of carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals, proteins, and fibers. This diet if free from all kinds of pathogens and variable ingredients. This was done to ensure that the scientists know the pin-point composition of the food. They observed that the mice fed on ‘Purified Control Diet’ developed tumors while the ones getting normal or I3C-enriched food remained healthy because it had comparatively less AhR-promoting chemicals. Dr. Chris Schiering of Imperial College London, who was a part of this study, referred to that and said,

Normal mice on the purified control diet developed colon tumors within 10 weeks, whereas mice on the standard chow didn’t develop any. This suggests that even without genetic risk factors, a diet devoid of vegetable matter can lead to colon cancer.”

These researchers are now hoping to shift their findings to humans after performing a series of detailed experiments in organoids made from human gut. Dr. Gitta acknowledged that they need a lot of concrete research before trying anything humans. Having said that, she joked that there is nothing harmful in eating vegetables and we should incorporate them in our diet plan.

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