Featured Research

Bioactive Brief: Fruits and Vegetables to Reduce Colorectal Cancer Risk

January 26, 2016

In a recent editorial in the journal Medicine & Aromatic Plants, Leonard Williams, PhD, director of the North Carolina A&T State University Center for Excellence in Post-harvest Technologies, described how the phytochemicals in fruits and vegetables could prevent colorectal cancer.

According to the Colon Cancer Alliance, colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death for both men and women in the United States. However, Williams says it is preventable.

A variety of healthy nutrients called phytochemicals exist in some of our favorite produce items: tomatoes, grapes, broccoli, grapefruit, and many more. In his recent editorial, Williams goes into depth about why exactly these foods are considered healthy.

Williams and colorectal cancer

Leonard Williams, PhD

Phytochemicals can reduce the risk of cancer progression in patients already with colorectal cancer. These nutrients are also used in the development of chemo preventative agents. Although the exact mechanisms are still poorly understood, Williams does know that phytochemicals reduce cancer severity by prompting cancer cell apoptosis, body detoxification, DNA methylation, tumor angiogenesis (blood vessel creation) inhibition, and inflammatory regulation. Dr. Janak Khatiwada, Research Scientist working in Williams’s laboratory at the NC Carolina Research Campus (NCRC), published two journal articles related to phytochemicals and colon cancer.  In a recent published article, Dr. Khatiwada stated that synergistic effects of various phytochemicals reduced the tumor incidence and increased the detoxifying enzymes activities in a rodent model.

“Comprehensive and systematic investigations of phytochemicals should be carried out considering its bioavailability, because single or clustered dietary phyto molecules are contributing to chemotherapeutic action and will be important for future assessment,” Williams said in his editorial.

Epidemiological studies provide additional evidence that fruits and vegetables decrease the risk of colorectal cancer. Communities that consume a high level of fruits and vegetables also have a lower prevalence of colorectal cancer than other communities not consuming as many fruits and vegetables.

By Kara Marker, NCRC Marketing


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