Fibre content in the diet is found activating a chemical substance in the body that can kill cancer.
Fibre or the so-called roughage works with beneficial bacteria in the colon – the large intestine –to activate a receptor in the body that helps killing cancer cells.
Butyrate, a by- product produced by fibre-eating bacteria found in the colon, leads to the activation of the receptor called PR109A. The receptor sends signals that cause a process known the death of cancer cells or apoptosis.
The receptor PR109A also found to be blocking a protein that causes inflammation. Inflammation is also known to lead to cancer.
“We know the receptor is silenced in cancer but it’s not like the gene goes away,” Dr. Vadivel Ganapathy, corresponding author and chair of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in the MCG School of Medicine, said in a statement.
As the cancer progresses, the disease takes control of all cellular activities thereby shutting down shut down the cancer-fighting receptor by chemically modifying its gene. This process, technically known as DNA methylation, allows cancer to turn genes that would thwart the cancer’s growth to the off-mode.
And most of the drug makers working on treatments for cancer focus on methylation as a possible source for clues.
However, the new study seems to underscore that eating large amounts of fibre-rich diet could activate butyrate and fight cancer.
“Colon cancer does not want butyrate produced by bacteria to come inside so it silences the transporter. It also does not want butyrate to act on the cell from the outside so it silences the receptor,” Dr. Ganapathy explained in the media statement. “It does not want to have anything to do with butyrate… We think receptor activation by butyrate suppresses inflammation, thereby suppressing progression of inflamed cells into cancer cells.”
So, cancer patients could benefit by taking high doses of butyrate, the MCG researchers suggest.
Dr Ganapathy is now planning to conduct clinical trials that compare the course of colon cancer patients who eat a high fiber diet or receive butyrate or niacin therapy along with taking DNA methylation inhibitors that activate GPR109A.
The colon and rectum are parts of the large intestine — the body’s digestive system. Colorectal cancer is a disease in which cells in the colon or rectum become abnormal and divide without control, forming a mass called a tumor.
Colorectal cancer is the third most common type of non-skin cancer in men (after prostate cancer and lung cancer) and in women (after breast cancer and lung cancer). It is the second leading cause of cancer death in the United States after lung cancer. Although the rate of new colorectal cancer cases and deaths is decreasing in this country, more than 145,000 new cases were diagnosed and more than 49,000 people died from this disease each year over the past 5 years.
The exact causes of colorectal cancer are not known. However, studies have shown that certain factors including age, polyps, family history and some diseases like ulcerative colitis or Crohn colitis are linked to an increased chance of developing colo-rectal cancer
Some evidence suggests that the development of colorectal cancer may be associated with high dietary consumption of red and processed meats and low consumption of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Researchers are exploring what role these and other dietary components play in the development of colorectal cancer.
Fibre-rich vegetables include turnip, lady’s finger, radish, beans, cabbage, cucumber, potato, corn, broccoli, peas, carrot, onion, tomato, green pepper, bitter gourd, asparagus, brinjal, beetroot, sprouts, leafy greens and cauliflower.
Fruits rich in fibre include avocado, guava, apricot, fig, date, gooseberry, mango, orange, pear, bel, apple, jamun, papaya, pomegranate, plum, peach, kiwi fruit and grapes.
Fibre rich legumes include kidney beans (rajma), black beans, all pulses, black-eyed peas and split peas. Peanuts, almonds, sunflower and sesame seeds, chestnuts and dried coconuts are also rich in fibre.
Cereals include oats, maize, barley, jowar, bajra, whole wheat and rice. Milling and husking depletes the fibre content of food grains. Refined foods like maida, pasta, white bread and cakes should be avoided as they are devoid of fibre.
Bran should not be sifted from the flour as it has fibre and is rich in B complex vitamins.