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Tiny molecule may douse colon cancer

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Inflammation in colon may get doused before fueling cancer development


2009-02-11

From the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) media release:

Repeated inflammation that leads to colon cancer may have met its match.

A tiny molecule found in most plant-based foods douses the flames before damaging lesions can form in the colon, according to a study by Texas AgriLife Research scientist Dr. Nancy Turner.

Even better, the compound can be obtained easily by eating rather than by taking expensive prescriptions or supplements, Turner said.

The molecule is quercetin. Tiny but potent, quercetin gets into the body through onions, peppers, tomatoes and most other common produce but also in "fun things like wine," she said. "Just about any plant-based food in the human diet has some level of quercetin."

Previous studies showed quercetin was effective in reducing the rate of colon cancer in laboratory tests, but Turner's latest research, published in the Journal of Nutrition, shows how the compound works. That means researchers may now begin to understand how quercetin could help other inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn's and celiac disease.

"The nice thing is that albeit high relative to what you see in the American diet, the level used in this study is actually similar to what can be achieved in diets around the world such as in, say, the Mediterranean-style diets," she said. "So it's not an unachievable goal for us good ol' Americans if we do the right thing with our food consumption."

For this study, Turner's team examined the response of quercetin-supplement diets in lab rats -- some in the early stages of colon cancer formation and others without cancer.

"Early lesions in a colon are some of the first true changes in the colon that can be observed visually," she said. "This in not just something you see in our animal model. You see it in human patients as well."

Called "aberrant crypts," they are thought to be a marker or predictor of tumor formation. Quercetin is known to reduce the number of these crypts, she noted, "But we wanted to know how it might be protecting."


2009-02-11

http://tamunews.tamu.edu/archives/article.php?articleid=7279&month=2&year=2009

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