Could ginger root, a supplement known for its ability to settle an upset stomach and fight colds, also help reduce the risk of colon cancer? Results of a new study show that ginger root reduced signs of inflammation of the large intestine, a condition linked to colon cancer.
Ginger root shows potential as cancer fighter
Colon cancer is a disease that develops in the longest part of the large intestine. More than 101,000 people will be diagnosed with colon cancer in the United States in 2011, according to the National Cancer Institute. Currently the most common treatment option is surgery to remove the cancer, chemotherapy, radiation, and targeted therapy (use of drugs or other agents that attack specific cancer cells without damaging normal cells).
Prevention is always preferred over treatment, and this latest study from researchers at the University of Michigan Medical School (UMMS) found that ginger root could be an anticancer agent for carcinoma of the colon. To arrive at this conclusion, they enrolled 30 patients who were randomly assigned to take either 2 grams of ginger root supplement or placebo daily for 28 days.
At the end of the 28 days, patients who had taken the ginger root had statistically significant reductions in most markers for colon inflammation and trends toward significant reductions in others. According to Suzanna M. Zick, ND, MPH, a research assistant professor at UMMS, interest in the use of ginger root as an anticancer agent “is only going to increase a people look for ways to prevent cancer that are nontoxic, and improve their quality of life in a cost-effective way.”
Ways to help prevent colon cancer include following a low-fat, high-fiber diet (fat and cholesterol have been linked to an increased risk of colon cancer), not smoking, maintaining a healthy weight (obesity seems to increase risk), getting regular exercise (staying active can reduce risk by up to 40%), and avoiding radiation. Adults 50 years and older should also be screened for colon cancer.
Could ginger root be a way to prevent colon cancer? It’s still too early to tell, and more research is needed. Zick noted that “We need to apply the same rigor to the sorts of questions about the effect of ginger root that we apply to other clinical trial research.”
American Association for Cancer Research
National Cancer Institute
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