Winter 2020

Another reason to eat ginger


Could ginger root prevent colorectal cancer? The U of M Medical School’s Anna Prizment is looking into whether ginger’s anti-inflammatory properties have an impact on gut bacteria in a way that reduces the risk of developing the disease.

Prizment, whose research focuses on the role of inflammation in cancer, is basing her work on a critical discovery made at the U’s Hormel Institute—that gingerol, a compound in ginger root, suppresses colorectal tumor growth in mice.

To test the idea, Prizment’s team is enrolling people who’ve had a type of polyp called an adenoma removed from their colon. Participants will come from 13 clinics throughout the state that are part of the Minnesota Cancer Clinical Trials Network.

They will receive daily doses of ginger extract over six weeks. Changes in their gut microbiome will be compared with changes in those who receive a placebo. If Prizment’s hunch is correct, ginger extract will reduce gut bacteria linked to colorectal cancer, while at the same time increasing protective bacteria.

“Because colorectal cancer develops slowly, stages likely exist during which we can prevent it,” says Prizment, a Masonic Cancer Center member whose work received support from Minnesota Masonic Charities. “We hope that this can develop into new strategies for colorectal cancer prevention.”