Cancers, including colon cancer, are killers. It is expected that colon cancer could cause almost 50,000 deaths in the United States alone this year. A recent study though showed that it is possible to lower risk of the mentioned cancer by simply eating dried plums.
More about the Research
The study, which was presented at the Biology Conference in Massachusetts, was headed out by Nancy Turner, a professor at the Texas A&M University. According to Turner and her colleagues, dried plums have the ability to maintain the colon microbiota or the gut bacteria. In turn, colon cancer risk is reduced.
There has already been some research in the past that proved there is a direct relationship between diet and the composition and metabolism of the microbiota in the colon. Turner stated in the conference in Boston that there are trillions of bacteria found in the intestinal tract and 400 of the species have been identified. This identification allowed them to test the effect of dried plum on the colon and its microbiota.
How Dried Plum Affects Colon Cancer Risk
Colon cancer develops because of recurrent inflammation in the intestines. Intestinal inflammation is often triggered by the disruptions that happen in the microbiota. However, if you eat dried plums, you are consuming phenolic compounds as well, which can give the body antioxidants. Antioxidants are known to reverse the negative effects of oxidative stress caused by free radicals that damage your DNA. Damaged DNA can lead to recurrent inflammation and eventually cancer.
The scientists hypothesized that eating dried plums can provide the following benefits for the colon:
- Retention of microbiota in the gut
- Maintenance of microbial metabolism patterns in the colon
- Reduced aberrant crypt foci numbers, which are a huge sign of the development of cancer
The researchers have concluded that because dried plums are able to promote retention of metabolism and microbiota in the colon, cancer risk is much lower and can be prevented.
Plums or Prunes?
The question now is, should you eat dried plums only or can you also consume prunes? According to experts, all prunes can be considered plums, but not all plums can be considered prunes. However, there are countries outside of the United States that use the names interchangeably.
While dried plums are effective in lowering cancer risk, this doesn’t mean fresh plums have the same effect. Dried plums have soluble and insoluble fiber and also contain sorbitol, which cannot be found in the fresh version. Sorbitol is sugar that cannot be fermented, which can increase the levels of beneficial microorganisms in the gut, including phenolic compounds.