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Antioxidant Rich Fruit May Help Reduce Your Cancer Risk

According to Canadian researchers at the University of Prince Edward Island, cranberry extracts may prevent inflammation associated with colon cancer. Their research is published in the February 2009 issue of the Journal of Science and Food Agriculture.

For the lab study, researchers analyzed human colon cells that had been exposed to either cranberry extract or a flavonol compound found in cranberries called quercetin.

Researchers tested the exposed culture for several enzymes linked to inflammation like cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2). COX-2 sparks the conversion of omega-6 fatty acids in your body to compounds called prostaglandins which cause pain and inflammation.

The researchers found that both cranberry extract and quercetin decreased the effect of COX-2. Additionally, the same result was observed when the colon cells were stimulated with a compound that promotes the growth of tumors.

According to the researchers, these results are likely due to the effect cranberry extract has on signaling pathways that lead inflammatory enzymes to cells. Hopefully future studies will explore this effect in greater detail.

The exact link between inflammatory enzymes and cancer is unknown but preliminary research indicates that once inside a cell, enzymes like COX-2 can have an oxidative effect. Cellular oxidation has been shown to significantly increase the risk of certain cancers.

Research into the possible benefits of cranberries - and flavonoids in general - has grown rapidly in recent years. Even the American Cancer Society has said that the early results are promising.

Flavanoids are abundant in many fruits and vegetables. They have been shown in lab tests to help combat inflammation, prostatitis, heart disease and respiratory diseases like bronchitis and asthma. Quercetin in particular has even given rise to a new class of chemotherapeutic drugs used in the treatment of various cancers.
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