Cancer has been one of the fearsome condition in our world today. Millions to billions of dollars are spent each day to understand “cancer”. Scientists at the Francis Crick Institute has unravelled the mystery of how some anti-cancer agents produced by some vegetables are able to prevent some form of cancers. Vegetables such as cabbage, broccoli and Kale, over the years are known to reduce the risk of bowel cancer but detailed explanation has been elusive.

The research focused on how vegetables alter the lining of the intestines by studying mice and miniature bowels growing in the lab. The lining of the intestine like the skin are regenerated under controlled conditions that takes about four to five days. The regeneration process are tightly controlled otherwise would have dare consequences like gut inflammation or cancer. Chewing of some vegetables releases certain chemicals which were vital. A chemical called indole-3-carbinol was investigated in this study.

Chewing of vegetables releases indole-3-carbinol which is modified by the hydrochloric acid as it moves through the gastro-intestinal tract. In the lower bowel, the chemical has the ability to change the behaviour of the stem cells which facilitates the regeneration of the lining and of immune cells that control inflammation. The study revealed that diet rich in indole-3-carbinol protected the mice from cancer, even those whose gene puts them at high risk of the disease.

Signs of bowel cancer include:

Blood in stools

Changes in bowel habits, such as going to the toilet more often

Tummy pain, bloating or discomfort

Dr Stockinger said the findings were a “cause for optimism”.

She has reduced the amount of meat she eats and now consumes a lot more vegetables.

She told the BBC: “A lot of dietary advice we’re getting changes periodically – it is very confusing and not clear cut what the causes and consequences are.

“Just telling me it’s good for me without a reason will not make me eat it.

“With this study, we have the molecular mechanisms about how this system works.”

Prof Tim Key, from Cancer Research UK, said: “This study in mice suggests that it’s not just the fibre contained in vegetables like broccoli and cabbage that help reduce the risk of bowel cancer, but also molecules found in these vegetables too”.

“Further studies will help find out whether the molecules in these vegetables have the same effect in people, but in the meantime there are already plenty of good reasons to eat more vegetables.”


Source: BBC health news