An apple a day can keep colon cancer away, German researchers say

Colon cancerHamburg, Germany  - German scientists have found new proof of that old adage about an apple a day keeping the doctor away by showing the fruit helps reduce the incidence of colon cancer.

German researchers led by Dr Dieter Schrenk found that apples and apple juice enhance biological mechanisms that produce anticarcinogenic compounds during the fermentation process.

Their research, published in the April 2008 issue of the journal Nutrition, shows that apple pectin and apple juice extracts have anti-carcinogenic effects on the colon.

The researchers believe that the presence of apple pectin and apple juice extracts increase the presence of the compound butyrate which is believed to be a chemopreventative metabolite that might prevent the occurrence of colorectal cancer.

Butyrate is a short chain fatty acid that, the research states, "not only serves as a major nutrient for the colon epithelia but is also thought to play an important role in the protective effect of natural fibre against colorectal cancer."

Dr Schrenk and his colleagues conducted laboratory tests in which they found that by the increased production of butyrate via the addition of apple components, histone deacetlyases (HDAC) were inhibited.

With slowed production of HDAC, there would be significantly less growth of precancerous and tumour cells.

The researchers therefore noted: "Apples are a major source of natural fibre and of low molecular weight plan polyphenols in the Western diet.

"Pectin-rich apple products can thus be expected to exert anti- carcinogenic effects in the colon." (dpa)