Research on benefits of Canary bananas against colon cancer
This research, which will last for one year, is directed by Doctor in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Antonio López Farré, and has the support of the Association of Canary Banana Producer Organizations (ASPROCAN) and of the company Plátano de Canarias.
Professor López Farré explained how this research is to be conducted in the laboratory. "We will use two strains of human epithelial cells, some with cancer and some normal; to the latter will be added inflammatory factors to put them in a pre-cancer situation."
According to the researcher, this will simulate Crohn's disease or inflammatory bowel disease, 10% of which, he says, further develop into cancer.
To these samples, he notes, "we will add compounds and substances present in Canary bananas to see if they can reduce cell growth; more specifically, we want to study how the mitochondria can be affected."
Mitochondria, as explained by López Farré, "are cells within cells; structures that we didn't quite know how they worked, and which we now know have their own dynamics. They merge and multiply, and faulty ones destroy themselves in a process called 'autophagy'."
In the mitochondria is where cellular respiration takes place; this is a biochemical reaction that supplies energy to the cell.
"We want to find out if any component of Canary bananas is able to induce the death of tumour cells by acting on mitochondria, and we have some background data that makes us think that this thesis may be feasible," he explains.
"In fact," he adds, "specific drugs against mitochondria are already being designed for cases of cancer and vascular problems."
López Farré lists some of the most common components of Canary bananas, such as starch, pectin (which is a monosaccharide) and peroxide (an antioxidant).
"One of our goals is to examine whether the nutritional differences between Canary bananas and those from other origins make the Canary fruit beneficial as protector against colorectal cancer.
The research, which will be subject to quarterly evaluations, "could be extended to a second stage, in which oncologists would test the controlled studies in patients," he states.
The team that will carry out this study will bring together molecular biologists and oncologists.
In Spain, bananas are the most consumed fresh fruit; second only if orange juice is taken into account.
Spanish bananas are exclusively produced in the Canary Islands, where there are 8,500 growers selling 400 million kilos of this fruit per year.
The President of ASPROCAN and Plátano de Canarias, Henry Sicilia, has assured that both his company and the producer associations are committed to health and the quality of the information provided to the consumer, and that a real scientific basis is the key to provide accurate nutritional recommendations.
"For Plátano de Canarias, health is one of the main issues of concern to us. We have a huge responsibility, because our product is present in more than 16 million Spanish homes all year round," he points out.