Can Plums Reduce the Risk of Colon Cancer?

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New research presented at the 2015 Experimental Biology Conference in Boston concluded that a diet containing dried plums can positively affect microbiota, also referred to as gut bacteria, throughout the colon , and helps reduce the risk of colon cancer. Specifically they said “Through our research, we were able to show that dried plums promote retention of beneficial bacterial throughout the colon, and by doing so they may reduce the risk of colon cancer.”

The researchers examined the protective properties of dried prunes using a rat model of colon cancer. The phenolic compounds in dried prunes are known to have multiple effects on health, including their ability to serve as anti-oxidants that can neutralize the oxidant effect of free radicals that can damage DNA.  Researchers tested the ability of dried prums consumption would promote retention of beneficial microbiota throughout the gut, and if so, this might help reduce the risk of colon cancer. Rats were fed a control diet or a diet containing dried plums. and both diets were matched for total calories amd macronutrient consumption so that the effect due toi diet would be attributed to compounds uniquely found in the dried plums.  Researchers examined the intestinal content and tissues from different segments of the colon and found that dried plums increased Bacteroidetes and reduced Firmicutes-two major phyla of bacteria in the gut–in the distal colon without affecting the proportions found in the prosimal colon.  In addition, rats consuming the control diet had a lower proportion of Bacteroidetes and increased Firmicutes in the distal colon. They also found that rats eating the dried plums had significantly reduced numbers of aberrant crypts, aberrant crypt foci and high-multiplicity aberrant crypt foci compared to the control rats. According to the researchers “These aberrant crytpt foci are one of the earliest observable precancerous lesion and are often considered to be a strong indicator for cancer development.” They concluded that dried plums seem to promote retention of beneficial microbiota and microbiota metabolism throughout the colon,  which was associated with a reduced incidence of precancerous lesions.

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