Reduces the risk of colorectal cancer

Colorectal cancer, which is characterized by neoplasia in the colon, rectum, or vermiform appendix, is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer in the world. More than half of the deaths of colorectal cancer are reported from the developed regions of the world. Several studies suggested that diets high in red and processed meat, as well as those low in fiber, are associated with an increased risk of colorectal cancer (Chao et al., 2005; Wakai et al., 2007). Dietary fiber has been hypothesized to involve in reducing the risk of colorectal cancer through several protective mechanisms including dilution of fecal carcinogens, reduction of transit time of feces through the bowel, production of short chain fatty acids which promote anticarcinogenic action, and binding of carcinogenic bile acids (Lipkin et al, 1999).

Soluble fiber in seaweed can bind with water 20 times of their own volume exhibiting strong hydrocolloidal properties of its network structure. Therefore, seaweed added to the diet can enhance water binding to the food pellet in the gut and facilitate stool bulking, and decrease transit time in the colon, that act as positive factors to prevent colon cancer (Brownlee et al., 2005). The viscous indigestible masses of fiber in the gut trap toxins and other cancerous material in the digested food, and those are then expelled through the feces. Thereby, they help to protect the surface membrane of the digestive tract against potential carcinogens. Studies carried out using the laboratory animal models revealed that some seaweed fibers are effective in controlling chemically induced gut cancer. Different diets consisting 0.05-0.2% seaweed powders of Eisenia bicyclis, Laminaria angustata, and P. tenera were tested in intestinal tumor-induced rats with potent intestinal carcinogen, 1,2-dimethylhydrazine, and after 20 days, the tumor incidence was clearly reduced at varying degrees (Yamamoto and Maruyama, 1985). Moreover, porphyran showed appreciable antitumor activity against Meth-A fibrosarcoma in rats (Noda, 1993). Development of colorectal epithelium into carcinoma is associated with a progressive inhibition of apoptosis and it further contributes to tumor growth. A study was carried out to determine apoptosis-inducing activity of fucoidan in cultured HT-29 and HCT116 human colon cancer cells and revealed that fucoidan can reduce the viability of tested cells in a dose-dependent manner through the inhibition of both tumor necrosis factor and caspase-induced cell signaling (Kim et al., 2010).

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