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Cranberry extracts may prevent colon cancer: Lab study

By Stephen Daniells , 13-Feb-2009

Extracts from cranberry may prevent colon cancer via an anti-inflammatory mechanism, according to results of a cell study from Canada.

Writing in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, Richard Narayansingh and Robert Hurta from University of Prince Edward Island report that crude extracts from cranberry, as well as one of the fruit’s major flavonoid compounds quercetin could decrease the expression of certain inflammatory processes linked to colon cancer.

“Our results are the first to suggest that a possible mechanism involved in anti-cancer activity of crude cranberry and quercetin is partly mediated through its anti-inflammatory action,” wrote Narayansingh and Hurta.

Colorectal cancer is the third most diagnosed cancer in the US, according to the American Cancer Society. About 150,000 new cases will be diagnosed in the US this year, says the society, with an almost 50-50 split between men and women.

Study details

The Canada-based researchers performed a lab study using the human colon adenocarcinoma cell line HT-29 and exposed the cells to different doses of crude cranberry extract or quercetin.

The expression of cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2), an enzyme which is linked to the inflammatory process, was subsequently measured, along with other variables.

Narayansingh and Hurta report that both the cranberry extract and quercetin decreased the expression of COX-2 expression.

Moreover, the researchers not that in cells stimulated with a compound that promotes tumors a decrease of COX-2 expression was also observed.

“These findings are important because they demonstrate that the F-κB signalling pathway provides a potential mechanistic link between inflammation and cancer and that the anti-inflammatory properties of crude cranberry extract or quercetin can be used to modulate this pathway,” wrote the researchers.

Future studies on in vivo models of colon cancer will have to be carried out,” they concluded.

Popular berry

The popularity of cranberries has been increasing in recent years as a combination of strong marketing campaigns and a body of scientific evidence revealing the fruit's health benefits has contributed to growing consumer awareness and interest in the product.

The fruit has long been considered an effective method of fighting urinary tract infections (UTIs), something that has led to almost one third of parents in the US giving it to their children, according to a recent study.

In 2004 France became the first country to approve a health claim for the North American cranberry species Vaccinium macrocarpon, which states that it can 'help reduce the adhesion of certain E.coli bacteria to the urinary tract walls'.

Source: Journal of the Science of Food and AgricultureVolume 89 Issue 3, Pages 542 - 547"Cranberry extract and quercetin modulate the expression of cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) and I-kappa-B-alpha in human colon cancer cells"Authors: R. Narayansingh, R.A.R. Hurta

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