A potent pair against colon cancer

Imagine a world where your doctor prescribed probiotics and broccoli to treat colon cancer.

It’s an exciting thought. Especially with the harsh methods used for treating colon cancer now. But could that world ever become a reality?

I’ll admit, it sounds far-fetched… even if you’re a firm believer in natural medicine. But don’t forget, broccoli and probiotics DO have proven anti-cancer properties.

Researchers in Singapore thought these anti-cancer properties were promising enough to give this duo a try. And with a bit of scientific tweaking, they managed to turn these two simple, everyday ingredients into a powerful colon cancer-killing cocktail…

Killing cancer cells with bacteria and broccoli

Researchers from the University of Singapore recently created a bacteria-broccoli medley that seeks and destroys colon cancer cells.

First, they engineered a common and harmless strain of gut bacteria (E. coli Nissle) into a probiotic that could attach itself to colon cancer cells. Once this probiotic attaches to colon cancer cells, it secretes an enzyme that turns a compound in broccoli into an insanely powerful anti-cancer agent.

They mixed the engineered probiotic with broccoli extract, then put it in a dish with colon cancer cells. It killed 95 percent of the cancer cells in the dish. Next, they gave the combo to mice with colon tumors. It reduced the number of colon tumors in mice by 75 percent.

So needless to say, it was effective. So effective that researchers want to continue studying to see if it could eventually prevent and treat colon cancer.

Related: Bravo for the brassica that stops cancer growth

“One exciting aspect of our strategy is that it just capitalizes on our lifestyle, potentially transforming our normal diet into a sustainable, low-cost therapeutic regimen. We hope that our strategy can be a useful complement to current cancer therapies.” said researcher Associate Professor Matthew Chang.

Does the stuff in your fridge have the same effect?

A world where you could pop a probiotic, then eat some broccoli to fight cancer is a world I want to live in. Of course, in this study, these two ingredients had a little help from scientific engineering.

But even without a specially engineered probiotic, broccoli can pack a punch against colon cancer. And regular probiotics can too…

Studies show compounds in cruciferous vegetables like broccoli reduce the risk of colon cancer in people and that probiotics reduce the size and number of colon tumors in mice.

So maybe that bag of broccoli and pint of yogurt in your fridge could make a dent in your colon cancer risk, after all. I say it’s worth a try. Try this delicious recipe that contains broccoli and horseradish, another tasty fermented, probiotic-rich food, to get you started. The original recipe called for ¼ cup of mayonnaise, but this one substitutes Greek yogurt. Trust me… you’ll love it.

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  1. With these special bacteria, a broccoli a day can keep the cancer doctor away — MedicalXpress. Retrieved January 18, 2017.
  2. L. Ho, et al. “Engineered commensal microbes for diet-mediated colorectal-cancer chemoprevention.” — Nature Biomedical Engineering, 2018.
  3. Probiotics may help to prevent and treat colon cancer — Medical News Today. Retrieved January 18, 2017.
  4. J. Wu, et al. “Cruciferous vegetables intake and the risk of colorectal cancer: a meta-analysis of observational studies.” — Annals of Oncology. 2013 Apr; 24(4): 1079–1087.
Jenny Smiechowski

By Jenny Smiechowski

Jenny Smiechowski is a Chicago-based freelance writer who specializes in health, nutrition and the environment. Her work has appeared in online and print publications like Chicagoland Gardening magazine, Organic Lifestyle Magazine, BetterLife Magazine, TheFix.com, Hybridcars.com and Seedstock.com.