Research news and views on preventing and surviving cancer
Author: Teresa Thanks to Teresa L. Johnson for Guest Blogging.
Teresa L. Johnson, MSPH, RDN, is a nutrition and health communications consultant with a long-time interest in the role of plant-based diets and cancer prevention. Her work draws on elements of nutritional biochemistry, phytochemistry, toxicology, and epidemiology.
Research shows that eating high amounts of red meat increases risk of colorectal cancer, possibly because it may spur inflammation. A new animal study published in The Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences now points to a sugar molecule found in red meat as one mechanism responsible.
The molecule called N-glycolylneuraminic acid, or Neu5Gc for short, sticks to the ends of sugars found in red meats such as beef, pork, and lamb. Although most mammals produce Neu5Gc, humans don’t. Humans are “immunized” against Neu5Gc shortly after birth by an unusual process involving gut bacteria. As a result, when people eat foods that contain Neu5Gc, we produce antibodies that react to Neu5Gc, triggering inflammation.
Previous research has detected relatively high amounts of Neu5Gc in cancerous tissue.
In foods, Neu5Gc can be free or it can be bound to the ends of long sugar chains attached to proteins. The bound form is highly bioavailable, meaning it can easily be taken up into the body’s cells. Neu5Gc tends to accumulate in cells of the colon, prostate, and ovary. Read more… “Study Gives New Insights on Red Meat, a Sugar, and Cancer”
A growing body of evidence indicates that the trillions of bacteria that live in the digestive tract – might play a role in altering cancer risk. Now, a study suggests that how those bacteria are organized and where they are located in the gut might influence the risk of certain colon cancers.
When bacteria organize into biofilms, they can breach the protective inner layer in the gut and invade the local tissue, promoting inflammation and possibly cancer.
We have an interesting relationship with the bacteria in our gut. Although many of the microbes provide beneficial services, bacteria – both “good” and “bad” – can cause us harm, so we keep them all at arm’s length, so to speak. Normal, healthy tissue in the colon is coated with a two-layered covering of mucus –a mesh-like outer layer and a gel-like inner layer. Whereas the outer layer creates a moist, cozy environment for bacteria, the inner layer is less hospitable: it provides the last line of defense against their invasion.
Purple sweet potatoes (yes, purple) are packed with flavor, fiber, and flavonoids—and are especially high in anthocyanins, the deeply pigmented flavonoid phytochemicals found in many blue, red, or purple fruits, vegetables, and grains such as berries, red grapes, red cabbages, and black rice.
Now, a new lab study suggests that these brilliant-colored tubers are actually cancer-fighting powerhouses that may play a role in protection from colorectal cancer.
The study, published in Molecular Nutrition and Food Research, examined the role of a specially bred anthocyanin-rich purple sweet potato (with the secret agent-like name “P40”) in colorectal cancer prevention.
The authors of the study conducted two experiments. First, they compared the cancer-fighting effects of three different sweet potato varieties—a cream-fleshed potato called “O’Henry,” a purple-skinned, white-fleshed potato called “NC Japanese,” and the brilliant purple-skinned and purple-fleshed P40—when added to the diets of mice. They injected the mice with a known carcinogen and placed the mice into groups to receive a diet enriched with O’ Henry, NC Japanese, P40, or regular mouse chow, which served as a control. Read more… “Lab Study: Purple Sweet Potatoes as Colon Cancer Fighters”
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