Kimchi is a very popular name in the world of fermented foods. Researchers have recently found that it can reduce the risk of gastric cancer.
A well-known journal Oncotarget published a study titled “Dietary prevention of H.pylori associated gastric cancer with kimchi” where the role of dietary agents in the prevention of cancers has been described.
Gastric or stomach cancer ranks fifth among all types of cancers and is the third commonest cause of cancer deaths. Helicobacter pylori (H.pylori) is believed to be the main cause of gastric cancer. This organism is also responsible for peptic ulcer disease. Other factors involved in stomach cancer development include genetic susceptibility, nitrites in processed meat, smoking, aspirin consumption, lack of dietary fibers, etc.
A study on Kimchi
In the study, the researchers concluded that Kimchi, a traditional Korean fermented cabbage dish, may be effective in preventing H.pylori associated atrophic gastritis (inflammation of the lining of the stomach leading to loss of mucosa) that invariably results in gastric cancer. They tried to boost the effectiveness of kimchi by developing a special preparation known as cancer preventive kimchi (cpKimchi). It contains pear, mustard leaf, tangle sea juice, mushroom and Chinese pepper in addition to standard Kimchi recipe (sKimchi).
The researchers observed that cpKimchi showed selective toxicity against malignant cells while leaving the normal cells unaffected. This observation was then double-checked with wound healing assay to see if cpKimchi can halt the growth of the malignant tumor.
The researchers then compared the effects of two Kimchi preparations in rats suffering from atrophic gastritis and noticed that the subjects receiving cpKimchi demonstrated reversal of all the inflammatory and atrophic changes while the control group continued to show loss of parietal cells, inflammation, and mucosal erosion. This observation led to the hypothesis that cpkimchi can revitalize and heal gastric mucosa in inflammatory and pre-malignant conditions.
In-depth research was conducted to find out the molecular mechanisms involved in cancer preventive role of cpKimchi. It appeared that cpKimchi regulates various cellular pathways and reduces inflammatory mediators and cytokines responsible for cancer formation like transcription factors, interleukin-6, PGE2, STAT-3, NF-KB, etc.
Only animal trials have been conducted so far to see the cancer preventive effect of cpKimchi. The authors of this study encouraged human trials to accelerate the development of pharmaceutical grade cpKimchi. Regular consumption of cpKimchi might be a great effort in reducing the incidence of H.pylori associated gastric cancer in high-risk countries like Korea.
Kimchi originated in China and was prepared from cabbage. Anti-cancer and anti-H.pylori effects are provided by its potent compound known as sulforaphane. As Kimchi is a fermented food, it contains a great number of useful bacteria that replace H.pylori in the gastric mucosa upon entering the stomach. These microorganisms also help in keeping ideal pH in the stomach degrading toxic compounds.
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