The active compound in Chinese herbs called emodin, also found in some fruits and vegetables, can reduce colon cancer cells in mice, according to researchers at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine.
Physiologists conducting this study involving mice say this is likely due to emodin's ability to reduce the number of pro-tumor macrophages (a type of immune cell that can promote tumorigenesis). The new study was published by the American Physical Society (APS) ahead of print in the American Journal of Physiology-Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology.
The researchers studied two groups of mice, one of them was treated with emodin. The results showed that mice treated with emodin "exhibited lower protumorigenic M2-like macrophages in the colon."
The team hope their findings could be used soon in human therapeutics.
Colon cancer is the third most common cancer in men and women, and the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the US, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is expected to cause more than 52,000 deaths in the US in 2022.
According to the American Cancer Society, colon cancer risk factors include obesity, physical inactivity, diets high in red meat, smoking, and alcohol use.
“Approximately 70% of colon cancer cases can be attributed to diet or other lifestyle factors. This study raises hope that daily consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables containing emodin could prevent colon cancer in humans,” said Angela Murphy, co-author of the study from the department of pathology, microbiology, and immunology at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine.