Chemicals found in vegetables prevent colon cancer in mice
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IMAGE: This is a mouse colon from Cyp1a reporter mice after feeding with I3C. view more 

Credit: Chris Schiering, Francis Crick Institute

Chemicals produced by vegetables such as kale, cabbage and broccoli could help to maintain a healthy gut and prevent colon cancer, a new study from the Francis Crick Institute shows.

The research, published in Immunity, shows that mice fed on a diet rich in indole-3-carbinol – which is produced when we digest vegetables from the Brassica genus – were protected from gut inflammation and colon cancer.

While the health benefits of vegetables are well-established, many of the mechanisms behind them remain unknown. This study offers the first concrete evidence of how I3C in the diet can prevent colon inflammation and cancer, by activating a protein called the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR).

Gut reactions

AhR acts as an environmental sensor, passing signals to immune cells and epithelial cells in the gut lining to protect us from inflammatory responses to the trillions of bacteria that live in the gut.

“We studied genetically modified mice that cannot produce or activate AhR in their guts, and found that they readily developed gut inflammation which progressed to colon cancer,” explains first author

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