Colorectal cancer is comprised of any growth (lump or tumor) of the colon and rectum. Worldwide, it is the second most common cancer next to lung cancer and affects both sexes equally (1).
Although not all colorectal cancers are malignant, by the time patients are diagnosed, forty percent of them are already at an advanced stage of the disease. When this is the case, surgery is the common course of action. Other traditional treatments include radiation and chemotherapy.
All types of treatment for this form of cancer are aggressive, invasive, and can have horrible side effects. That why Scientists have been increasingly looking for natural alternatives.
One risk factor for colorectal cancer is a family history of the disease.
Nitric oxide is a gene regulator that has been shown to both impair and promote the growth and proliferation of cancer cells in the body, depending on many other contributing factors (2).
In 2010, a study of the antioxidants in maple syrup (the darker they syrup, the better) demonstrated an inhibition of nitric oxide overproduction, having implications for tumor growth (3).
A follow-up study in 2015 specifically tested varying grades of maple syrup based on apparent anticancer effects caused by its inherent phenolic compounds, the source of its antioxidants. Researchers found that all three grades of syrup (light, medium, and dark) caused significantly lower invasion and growth rates of cancer colorectal cells. It concluded:
“maple syrup, which is a natural sweetener used throughout the world, inhibits CRC [colorectal cancer] cell growth and invasion through suppression of the AKT [a protein in the body that regulates cell metabolism and proliferation] signaling pathway. These findings suggest that maple syrup, particularly dark colored ones, might be suitable as phytomedicines, which have fewer adverse effects than traditional chemotherapy for CRC treatment.”(4).
Who Gets Colorectal Cancer?
Possible risk factors for colorectal cancer (5):
- Age – the older you are, the higher the risk
- Very high in animal protein
- Very high in saturated fats
- Very low in dietary fiber
- Very high in calories
- High alcohol consumption
- Women who have had breast, ovary, or uterus cancer
- Family history of colorectal cancer
- Ulcerative colitis
- Being overweight/obese
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Presence of polyps in the colon/rectum – untreated polyps may eventually become cancerous
- Crohn’s disease or Irritable Bowel Disease
It’s All in the Color
The color of maple syrup is affected by the timing of its harvest: the later in the season the sap is tapped, the darker the resulting color of the syrup.
From this latest study, it can be inferred that the antioxidants in maple syrup become more potent with age, as the processing method and basic nutrient content of the syrup are the same, with significant amounts of manganese, zinc, magnesium, calcium, potassium, and vitamin B2 (6, 7).
In addition to its anticancer activity, maple syrup has been found to be an antibiotic superhero, making harmful bacteria more susceptible to antibiotics.
A University of Rhode Island study discovered fifty-four compounds in maple syrup that are nowhere else found in nature with twenty of them promising benefits to human health. Navindra Seeram, a member of the team of researchers, stated in an address at the American Chemical Society’s national meeting in 2011:
“I continue to say that nature is the best chemist and that maple syrup is becoming a champion food when it comes to the number and variety of beneficial compounds found in it. It’s important to note that in our laboratory research we found that several of these compounds possess anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which have been shown to fight cancer, diabetes and bacterial illnesses. We know that the compounds are anti-inflammatory agents and that inflammation has been implicated in several chronic diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes, certain types of cancers and neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s.”(7).
Research, therefore, suggests that those at risk for colorectal cancer can benefit from adding maple syrup to their diets. Even diabetics can reap maple syrup’s as it has a low glycemic index of fifty-four.
Try using maple syrup instead of sugar to add moisture to your baked goods and up their nutritional value. Use ¾ cup maple syrup for 1 cup of sugar and reduce other liquid ingredients by 3 tablespoons. You can also replace the granulated sugar in your coffee and tea with maple syrup for a deeper, richer flavor.
Now that’s a sweet way to prevent cancer!