As adults age, they know to start changing their lifestyles to live longer and healthier lives. They quit smoking, exercise more, reduce how much red meat they eat. Speaking of which, changing one's eating patterns can specifically have lasting effects on health. Yet, scientists are continuing to learn about how a patient's diet can influence their health - both in preventing and reversing disease. The June 2017 issue of Food Research International included a new study that looks at the benefit of red onions - and how they may be able to fight cancer.
Red Onions as a superfood
Researchers at the University of Guelph looked closely at five different types of onions for the concentration of flavonoids. SF Gate found that these nutrients help plants ward off disease - and that humans may reap the benefits by including them in their diets. Some flavonoids, such as anthocyanin, give foods like blueberries and red cabbage their blue and purple pigmentation. The high concentration of anthocyanin in these foods has given them "superfood" status.
Scientists were most interested in the level of quercetin in each of the onions. Quercetin is known for its cancer-fighting properties. This flavonoid can stop the damage that free radicals create in the body. The University of Maryland's Medical Center also noted that quercetin has been found to ease allergies and lower the risk for heart disease. What the researchers found promised positive results.
"Onions activate pathways that encourage cancer cells to undergo cell death," said Abdulmonem Murayyan, a PhD student that contributed to the study. "They promote an unfavourable [sic] environment for cancer cells and they disrupt communication between cancer cells, which inhibits growth."
Fighting cancer one step at a time
The researchers focused on treating colon cancer cells. However, they noted that the test could be replicated to see the effect on other cancer cells, including breast cancer. Working with human patients is the next step in fighting colon cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, over 100,000 new cases of colorectal cancer will be diagnosed this year in the U.S. alone. The number of cases among adults 50 years and older has dropped - in part because of regular screenings. To learn more, reach out to Interim today.