Purple potatoes linked to reduced colon cancer risk, study says

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Purple potatoes linked to reduced colon cancer risk, study says

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American-Statesman Staff

Green veggies are known to have amazing health benefits. But other colorful foods, especially purple potatoes, have great effects, too, including reducing your risk for colon cancer.

Researchers from Pennsylvania State University recently conducted an experiment, published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, to determine how diet can effect the colon. 

To do so, they assessed pigs, placing them into three different groups. The first was fed a standard diet with five percent of fat, the second was given a high-calorie diet with 14 percent fat and the third had a high-fat diet supplemented with purple potatoes. 

After analyzing the results, they found that the pigs on the purple potato-based diet had less colonic mucosal interleukin-6 or IL-6, a protein linked to the growth of cancer cells within the colon.

In fact, the levels of IL-6 were six times lower in the pigs that ate purple potatoes, compared to the ones in the controlled groups.

"What we are learning is that food is a double-edge sword — it may promote disease, but it may also help prevent chronic diseases, like colon cancer," co-author Jairam K.P. Vanamala said in a statement

While researchers only used purple potatoes for the study, they believe other colorful fruits and vegetables may have similar effects. 

"For example, white potatoes may have helpful compounds, but the purple potatoes have much greater concentrations of these anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant compounds," said Vanamala. "We use the purple potato as a model and hope to investigate how other plants can be used in the future."

Scientists have not tested their methods on humans, but a pig’s digestive system is very similar to that of a human. 

“Our results highlight the importance of IL-6 signaling in diet-linked induction/prevention of colonic inflammation/cancer,” the study read, “and demonstrate the potential of a food-based approach to target IL-6 signaling.”

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