Role of yoghurt in the prevention of colon cancer


The beneficial effect of yoghurt consumption on health and on the improvement of the mucosal immune system is well established, as is the diet-associated risk of colon cancer. In an experimental model in BALB/c mice we demonstrated that yoghurt added to the diet for 10 consecutive days, with the procedure repeated each 10 days for 6 months, inhibited the development of a colorectal carcinoma induced by 1,2 dimethylhydrazine (DMH). The immunoregulatory mechanisms involved in the inhibition of tumour growth by yoghurt were also examined in these studies. We determined B lymphocytes IgA+ and IgG+, as well as CD4+ and CD8+ T cells in the large intestine. We measured cellular apoptosis and the cytokines TNF-α, IFN-γ and IL-10. An increase in the number of IgA+ (P<0.01) was observed, but not in IgG+ (P<0.01), or in the CD4+ population (P<0.01) in the mice treated with DMH and yoghurt. While in the group with the carcinogen there was an enhancement in the IgG+ B cells (P<0.01) and CD8+ T cells (P<0.01). Yoghurt increased the number of apoptotic cells and induced IFN-γ and TNF-α cytokine release, their production being regulated by an increase in IL-10 (P<0.001). We demonstrated that yoghurt may exert antitumour activity by a decrease in the inflammatory immune response mediated by IgA+ increase, apoptosis induction and IL-10 release.

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Correspondence to G Perdigón.

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  • yoghurt
  • antitumour activity
  • apoptosis
  • cytokines

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