Potatoes for Targeting Colon Cancer Stem Cells

  • Jairam K. P. VanamalaEmail author
Invited Review


Colon cancer kills over 600,000 people annually worldwide. Unfortunately, current colon cancer prevention strategies like non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (e.g., aspirin) can lead to serious adverse side effects such as intestinal bleeding. However, fruit and vegetable consumption has been associated with up to a 40% decrease in colon cancer risk. The benefits of a diet high in fruits and vegetables could be partly attributed to the bioactive components such as the fiber, resistant starch and polyphenolics present in them. Given that cancer incidence is expected to rise by about 70% over the next two decades, there is a critical need to develop staple foods that fight colon cancer. We recently reported that colored flesh potatoes that contain both resistant starch and polyphenols can target cancer stem cells. Thus, there is an opportunity to develop a staple food crop approach to targeting the growing epidemic of cancer globally.


Potato Starch Phenolic acids Flavonoids Anthocyanins Cancer stem cells Cancer prevention Colon cancer 


El cáncer de colon mata sobre 600,000 personas anualmente en el mundo. Desafortunadamente, las estrategias actuales de prevención de este cáncer, como las drogas no-esteroidales antiinflamatorias (p ej aspirina) pudieran conducir a efectos secundarios serios adversos, como el sangrado intestinal. No obstante, el consumo de frutas y verduras se ha asociado hasta con un 40% de disminución en el riesgo de contraer cáncer de colon. Los beneficios de una dieta alta en frutas y verduras pudieran atribuirse parcialmente a los componentes bioactivos tales como la fibra, almidón resistente y polifenoles presentes en ellas. Si damos por hecho que se espera que aumente la incidencia del cáncer como un 70% en las próximas dos décadas, hay una necesidad crítica de desarrollar alimentos básicos que combatan a dicho cáncer. Recientemente reportamos que la papa con pulpa pigmentada que contiene almidón resistente y polifenoles puede acertarle a las células basales del cáncer. De aquí que haya una oportunidad de desarrollar una estrategia de cultivo de alimento básico dirigida a la creciente epidemia global del cáncer.



Jairam K. P. Vanamala was the PI of the National Research Interest Integrated Grant 2009-55200-05197 from USDA-NIFA that supported the work. Thanks to Dr. Lavanya Reddivari for feedback and Linda J Brewer for valuable edits.


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Copyright information

© The Potato Association of America 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Food SciencePenn State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA
  2. 2.The Penn State Hershey Cancer InstituteHersheyUSA

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