Unhealthy diet and stress levels can exacerbate the release of endotoxins in the blood that trigger inflammation and could be a precursor to colorectal cancer. A clinical study has shown that consuming polyphenol rich foods such as pomegranate extract can help with lowering endotoxemia in newly diagnosed colorectal cancer patients and could be potentially beneficial in reducing colorectal cancer risk.
Colorectal cancer is a common but treatable cancer of the colon or rectum that affects over 150,000 Americans every year. Like all cancers, the earlier it is detected, the easier it is to treat colorectal cancer and remove it at its source, before it starts spreading to other parts of the body and becoming a difficult to treat aggressive disease.
Pomegranate Extract Intake & Colorectal Cancer Risk
In 2018, a study was done by researchers from Spain which attempted to explore for the first time if consumption of pomegranates was able to reduce endotoxemia, that contributes to onset and development of colorectal cancer, in newly diagnosed colorectal cancer patients. But, before we get into the results of this clinical study, let’s first wrap our heads around some of this complicated scientific terminology so as to understand the true significance of the study.
Cancer, by definition, is just a normal cell that has mutated and gone haywire, that causes an unrestricted and mass growth of abnormal cells that could potentially metastasize or spread throughout the body. However, there are a lot of other complicated factors that could either lead to or aid the growth of these rapidly reproducing cancerous cells. In colorectal cancer, one of those factors which plays a significant role in causing a multitude of other health problems as well is metabolic endotoxemia. In the colon, or gut of our bodies, there are bacterial cells known as gut bacteria that are there to aid in digestion. These gut bacteria are essentially there to take care of any leftover food that wasn’t able to get digested by the stomach and small intestine. Endotoxins are the components of the bacterial cell walls made of lipopolysaccharides (LPS) that get released into the blood. Now, in most healthy people, the LPSs just stay inside the gut linings and everything is good. However, a constant unhealthy diet and/or stress can cause leaks in the gut lining and release endotoxins into the bloodstream, an excess of which, is known as metabolic endotoxemia. And the reason why this is so dangerous is because endotoxins activate certain inflammatory proteins which then potentially lead to a range of health problems such as cardiovascular conditions, diabetes or even colorectal cancer.
Back to the study, knowing the problems that metabolic endotoxemia can cause, there has been an increased interest in finding ways to potentially decrease the amount of endotoxins in the blood. It has been studied that foods rich in polyphenol such as red wine, cranberries and pomegranates, do have the power to reduce LPS levels in blood, which is why the researchers conducted their tests using pomegranate extract and how this would specifically affect patients with colorectal cancer. A randomized controlled trial was conducted through a hospital in Murcia, Spain, and it was found that there was a “reduction of plasma lipopolysaccharide binding protein (LBP) levels, that is a valid surrogate biomarker of metabolic endotoxemia, after pomegranate extract consumption in patients with newly diagnosed CRC.” (González-Sarrías et al, Food and Function 2018 ).
In summary, this pioneer study does show that polyphenol rich foods like pomegranate have the potential to reduce potentially harmful endotoxin levels in the blood that could benefit all individuals, especially those newly diagnosed with colorectal cancer and may help in reducing colorectal cancer risk. Therefore, if you have been diagnosed with colorectal cancer, or diabetes, or fall in the obese category, it wouldn’t hurt to consume an increased number of polyphenol rich foods such as pomegranates, cranberries, apples, vegetables, and red wine.
Cancer patients often have to deal with different chemotherapy side effects which affect their quality of life and look out for alternative therapies for cancer. Taking the right nutrition and supplements based on scientific considerations (avoiding guesswork and random selection) is the best natural remedy for cancer and treatment related side-effects.