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Eating chocolate can stave off bowel cancer, say scientistsDiet high in cocoa found to reduce risk of the cancer
16,000 die from the disease each year
Eating chocolate could stave off bowel cancer, say scientists.
A study found having daily doses of cocoa reduced the risk of catching the disease.
It is the latest piece of research to highlight the health benefits of the cocoa bean, most of which is harvested in West Africa.
According to a study eating chocolate may help stave off bowel cancer
Previous studies have found the seed is
rich in particularly powerful natural antioxidants that destroy harmful molecules known as free radicals.
And it has been suggested that eating chocolate with a high cocoa content could help to control diabetes, blood pressure and heart disease.
Dr Maria Arribas, of the
Science and Technology Institute of Food and Nutrition in Spain, who led the latest study, said: 'Foods like cocoa, which is rich in polyphenols, seems to play an important role in protecting against disease.'
Dr Arribas and her team investigated if the food could stop rats from developing bowel cancer when exposed to tumour-causing chemicals.
CABBAGE CHEMICAL COULD TREAT OVARIAN CANCER
A substance found in cabbage could treat ovarian cancer, say experts.
The chemical diindolylmethane, known as DIM – which is formed in the body naturally during the digestion of cruciferous vegetables such ascabbage – was shown to inhibit the growth of tumour cells in mice.
The molecule was also found to improve the success of a chemotherapy drug called cisplatin by an extra 50 per cent.
It was already known that DIM inhibited the growth of ovarian tumour cells, but the latest study, published in BMC, suggests that it also causes them to die, a process known as apoptosis.
Lead researcher Prof Sanjay Srivastava, of Texas Tech University, said: 'DIM increases the effect of cisplatin, without being toxic to normal ovarian cells, by targeting STAT3 signaling and increasing apoptosis.'
Ovarian cancer, which affects almost 7,000 women a year, is dubbed the 'silent killer' because symptoms are often diagnosed too late.
Bowel cancer is a general term for cancer that begins in the large bowel and depending on where the cancer starts, it can sometimes be referred to as colon or rectal cancer.
One group of rats were fed a daily diet consisting of 12
per cent of cocoa for eight weeks, while another group were given a diet containing no cocoa.
After a period of time, both groups were exposed to a carcinogen called
azoxymethane, which is used to induce colon cancer.
Within four weeks of the toxin exposure rats began to
develop intestinal cancers.
However, the researchers discovered
the rats on the cocoa diets had a reduced number of pre-cancerous lesions compared to the control group.
It is believed that the study, published in Molecular
Nutrition and Food Research, is the first to suggest that cocoa could help prevent bowel cancer.
Further research is now needed to explore how the raw material could benefit humans.
However Sarah Williams, a spokesperson from Cancer Research UK warned that too much chocolate can also have a negative impact.
Commenting on the study she said: 'This study involved rats in the lab who were fed very large quantities of cocoa over a number of weeks, so it’s impossible to conclude that that eating chocolate or drinking cocoa protects people against bowel cancer.
'But we do know that chocolate is high in fat and calories, so eating too much of it could lead you to put on weight.
'And being obese has been shown to increase the risk of bowel cancer, so eating lots of chocolate is unlikely to be a good way to cut the risk.'
She highlighted that eating a healthy diet with 'lots of fruit, veg and fibre and
limiting red and processed meat, cutting down on alcohol, staying
physically active and not smoking' are other ways to reduce the risk of cancer.
In England, bowel cancer is the third most common type of cancer and it is estimated that 16,000 people die from the disease each year.