Ginger's anti-inflammatory properties may play a role in reducing inflammation in the colon, possibly reducing the risks of developing colorectal cancer, according to new research.
Writing in the journal Cancer Prevention Research, researchers from the University of Michigan Medical School in the USA, reported that regular consumption of ginger root or its supplements could reduce the risk of colon cancer after their research revealed that people who took ginger supplements experienced a 28% decrease in colon inflammation -- an important precursor to colon cancer -- compared to those who only took dummy pills.
They said that that the ginger supplements reduced markers of colon inflammation in a select group of patients, suggesting that this supplement may have potential as a colon cancer prevention agent.
The new study adds weight behind traditional advice about ginger's potential as an anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer agent, however, lead author of the research Dr Suzanna Zick warned the findings are still preliminary.
"If you want to embrace ginger because you like the taste, go ahead, but there's no solid evidence that it prevents colon cancer," she explained. "It's much too early to tell whether ginger has anti-cancer properties."
However, Zick noted that as people look for ways to prevent cancer "that are nontoxic and improve their quality of life in a cost-effective way", the interest in ginger and other supplements "is only going to increase."
Zick and her team assigned 30 volunteers to either take a supplement containing 2 grams of ground ginger root extract, or a placebo pill, every day for 28 days. The levels of inflammation in their intestines were measured before and after the trial by tested samples of gut lining for chemicals known as eicosanoids -- that are known to increase inflammation in the gut.
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The authors found that levels of certain eicosanoids were significantly reduced in most markers, "and a trend toward significant decreases" in others.
"It seems that ginger has the potential to decrease eicosanoid levels," explained the researcher, who also noted that the ginger supplement "seemed to be tolerable and safe."
The 2 grams of ginger extract used in the supplement is equivalent to around 20 grams of raw ginger root, noted Zick and her team, adding that this is "probably beyond what most people would eat in their regular diet."
They added that based on the promising results of the current study, further investigation of ginger supplements in people at high risk of colorectal cancer is warranted.
Source: Cancer Prevention Research