“We studied genetically modified mice that cannot produce or activate AhR in their guts, and found that they readily developed gut inflammation which progressed to colon cancer,” first author Dr Amina Metidji said in a statement. “However, when we fed them a diet enriched with I3C, they did not develop inflammation or cancer. Interestingly, when mice whose cancer was already developing were switched to the I3C-enriched diet, they ended up with significantly fewer tumours which were also more benign.”
Dr Metidji and her colleagues also noted that normal, non-modified lab mice who were fed a basic mouse chow went on to develop colon tumors within just 10 weeks, whereas those receiving either I3C-rich food or simply one with more vegetables did not. This suggests that I3C and other plant-based chemicals are essential for colon health – at least, in mice.
The next step will be to investigate whether these mechanisms work the same in humans.
“In the meantime, there’s certainly no harm in eating more vegetables!” added senior author Dr Gitta Stockinger.