Every year, 145,000 Americans are diagnosed with colon cancer. While many dietary factors — like eating more cruciferous vegetables and less meat — might provide protection, little is known about how to manage ulcerative colitis, which significantly increases colorectal cancer risk. Fortunately, emerging research suggests eating more fresh pineapple could counter colitis, thus playing a role in preventing colon cancer.

Ulcerative colitis is a form of inflammatory bowel disease affecting 1-2 million Americans. Essentially an autoimmune ailment, ulcerative colitis is characterized by an abnormal inflammatory response, resulting in tissue damage, characterized by ulcers and sores on the colon and rectum. While medication is traditionally the treatment of choice for this condition, Duke University researcher Laura P. Hale , M.D. Ph.D. has shown that bromelain, a protein-digesting enzyme present in pineapple, might decrease some of the faulty immune responses that cause colitis. “The next step is to determine whether eating pineapple fruit also can generate an anti-inflammatory effect” says Prof. Hale.

Meanwhile, there are many other health benefits from eating more of this tropical Superfruit. For example, preliminary research shows pineapple’s bromelain helps to reduce the inflammation associated with asthma symptoms. Also, pineapple may inhibit the growth of malignant lung and breast cancer cells, according to one study.

BONUS: Pineapple’s bromelain is among the ingredients that might speed healing post-op by 17%, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.

Published December 1, 2008