Dried Plums Could Protect Against Radiation-Induced Bone Loss
According to a recent study published in the journal Scientific Reports, eating dried plums could protect against bone loss caused by ionising radiation.
Co-author of the study, Dr. Nancy Turner, of the Department of Nutrition and Food Science at Texas A&M University, and her colleagues believe that their findings may have important implications for individuals heavily exposed to ionising radiation, including cancer patients undergoing radiation therapy, radiation workers, astronauts, and victims of nuclear accidents.
Dr. Turner explained that, “Bone loss caused by ionizing radiation is a potential health concern for those in occupations or in situations that expose them to radiation. The changes in remodelling activity caused by exposure to radiation can lead to impaired skeletal integrity and fragility both in animals and human radiotherapy patients.”
Bone loss in humans can lead to osteoporosis – abnormal loss of bony tissue resulting in fragile porous bones which are more vulnerable to breakage. It is estimated that osteoporosis is responsible for more than 8.9 million fractures worldwide each year.
Researchers investigated a number of strategies that they believed could deal with underlying mechanisms that contribute to ionising radiation-related bone damage, such as radiation-induced oxidative stress.
A number of different antioxidant and anti-inflammatory interventions were tested, including a cocktail consisting of five different antioxidants (ascorbic acid, N-acetyl cysteine, L-selenomethionine, dihydrolipoic acid and vitamin E), dihydrolipoic acid, ibuprofen and dried plum.
Results showed that dried plum was most effective for reducing gene expression linked to the breakdown of bone. Dried plum was also most effective for preventing later bone loss induced by ionising radiation.
While the researchers are basically at a loss to explain the results, they did note that plums contain a number of polyphenols – including gallic acid, caffeoyl-quinic acids, coumaric acid and rutin – that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Dr. Turner says, “Dried plums contain biologically active components that may provide effective interventions for loss of structural integrity caused by radiotherapy or unavoidable exposure to space radiation incurred over long-duration spaceflight. From this study, we can conclude that inclusion of dried plums in the diet may prevent the skeletal effects of radiation exposures either in space or here on Earth.”