Consuming dried plums decreases the risk of colon cancer because of its effects on gut bacteria, suggests a new study recently presented at the 2015 Experimental Biology Conference in Boston.
The composition of colon bacteria plays a role in the health of the organ: if it is disrupted, intestinal inflammation can occur repeatedly to ultimately cause colon cancer. Dried plums seems to be beneficial in this context.
The fruits appear to promote the retention of microbiota in the colon, thereby decreasing the risk of colon cancer. Dried plums contain phenolic compounds that can serve as antioxidants and get rid of free radicals that are known cause inflammation.
When the researchers of the new paper tested the effect of the compounds in dried plums on a rat model of colon cancer, they found that the levels of the two major groups of bacteria in the gut were modified as a result. The dried plum increased the level of Bacteroidetes, while lowering that of Firmicutes – this happened in the distal colon. The bacteria in the proximal colon remained unchanged though.
Furthermore, the rats consuming the fruits had a significant decrease in the number of aberrant crypt foci that constitute a strong indicator of cancer.
“From this study we were able to conclude that dried plums did, in fact, appear to promote retention of beneficial microbiota and microbial metabolism throughout the colon, which was associated with a reduced incidence of precancerous lesions,” says one of the authors, Dr. Nancy Turner, a Texas A&M AgriLife Research professor.