A new study has revealed that a molecular mechanism through which a product of flavonoid digestion can inhibit cancer cell growth under certain conditions.
Flavonoids are compounds that are naturally present in fruit and vegetables.
The study is the work of a team at South Dakota State University in Brookings, who report their findings in a recent issue of the journal Cancers.
Flavonoids begin to break down once they enter the intestines. Gut bacteria reduce them further into metabolites when they enter the colon.
Having observed these processes, scientists have proposed that the anticancer effects of flavonoids are due to their metabolites. One of these metabolites is the molecule 2,4,6-THBA.
The new study is the first to investigate how 2,4,6-THBA, as a product of flavonoid breakdown in the gut, can help to prevent cancer of the colon or rectum.
The colon and rectum form part of the large intestine. With help from a range of gut bacteria, the final stage of digestion takes place in the colon, which then passes the remaining waste to the rectum to await evacuation through the anus.
In the new study, the researchers found that 2,4,6-THBA can bind to three enzymes that typically help cells to divide. They wondered if this ability was sufficient to block cancer.
What is colorectal cancer?
Colorectal cancer (CRC), also known as bowel cancer, colon cancer, or rectal cancer, is the development of cancer from the colon or rectum (parts of the large intestine).