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J Nutr. 2007 Nov;137(11 Suppl):2580S-2584S. doi: 10.1093/jn/137.11.2580S.

Overview of experimental data on reduction of colorectal cancer risk by inulin-type fructans.

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Department of Nutritional Toxicology, Institute for Nutrition, Friedrich-Schiller-University, Jena, Germany.


Colorectal cancer is related to diet, lifestyle, physical inactivity, and obesity. The responsible carcinogens cause mutations or enhance cell growth. Inulin-type fructans may counteract the effects via their gut flora-mediated fermentation products in vitro and in vivo. Important products formed by fermentation of inulin-type fructans with human gut flora are short-chain fatty acids. Of these, butyrate and propionate inhibit growth of colon tumor cells and histone deacetylases. Butyrate also causes apoptosis, reduces metastasis in colon cell lines, and protects from genotoxic carcinogens by enhancing expression of enzymes involved in detoxification. Fermentation supernatants of inulin have similar growth-inhibitory effects on colon adenoma and carcinoma cells and induce histone hyperacetylation by inhibiting histone deacetylases. In animal models inulin-type fructans prevent and retard colorectal carcinogenesis. Several studies reported the reduction of chemically induced preneoplastic lesions or tumors in the colon of rodents treated with inulin-type fructans. The human intervention study (SYNCAN project) sought to provide the experimental evidence for risk reduction by inulin-type fructans in humans. One group of polypectomized people at high risk for colon cancer and another of colon cancer volunteers after curative resection were given a synbiotic preparation. There were clear functional effects of the synbiotic because numerous different cancer risk markers were favorably altered. In conclusion, there is considerable experimental evidence that inulin modulates parameters of colon cancer risks in human colon cells, in animals, and in a human intervention trial. The involved mechanisms possibly include reduction of exposure to risk factors and suppression of tumor cell survival.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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