Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Cabbages for Colons

Chemical produced during the digestion of brassicas (kale, cabbage etc.) may be effective at preventing colon cancer

05 September 2018

Cabbages for Colons

Most people understand the importance of eating their greens. But, in case you're someone that still balks at broccoli and sidesteps sprouts, research provides yet another incentive to add something green to your plate. According to experiments examining mouse colons (one pictured), a chemical produced during the digestion of kale, cabbage and other members of the Brassica genus – indole-3-carbinol– may be effective at both reducing colon inflammation and preventing colon cancer. When a strain of mouse normally prone to gut inflammation and cancer was given a diet rich in indole-3-carbinol, the animals’ colons were protected against inflammation and tumours. Furthermore, if such mice fed a normal diet began developing colon cancer, switching them to the indole-3-carbinol diet, reduced the number and malignancy of tumours that grew. Whether the results will hold true in humans is not known, but regardless it wouldn’t hurt to eat an extra sprout or two.

Written by Ruth Williams

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