Beans Found to Fight Cancer

Wednesday, 20 Feb 2013 03:34 PM

By Nick Tate

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Beans and other starchy vegetables — including peas, green bananas, and certain types of rice and pasta — may help the body stave off colorectal cancer, new research shows.
 
University of Colorado Cancer Center experts, writing in the journal Current Opinion in Gastroenterology, said studies involving laboratory rats found what’s known as “resistant starch” — contained in a wide range of fruits, vegetables, and other plant-based foods — boost the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut, promote healthy digestion, reduce inflammation, and even kill pre-cancerous cells.
 
"Resistant starch is found in peas, beans and other legumes, green bananas, and also in cooked and cooled starchy products like sushi rice and pasta salad,” said Janine Higgins, a Cancer Center investigator and associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine.

Special: This Small Group of Doctors are Quietly Curing Cancer
 
“You have to consume it at room temperate or below — as soon as you heat it, the resistant starch is gone. But consumed correctly, it appears to kill pre-cancerous cells in the bowel."
 
Higgins explained that you can't digest resistant starch, but it does some important things in the gut — including decreasing bowel pH and the production of short-chain fatty acids.

These effects promote the growth of beneficial bacteria while keeping bad bugs at bay, which helps the body resist colorectal cancer.
 
Higgins said Cancer Center studies have found rats fed resistant starch show decreased numbers and sizes of lesions due to colorectal cancer, and reduced inflammation.
 
Based on these findings, he said: "Resistant starch may also have implications for the prevention of breast cancer. For example, if you let rats get obese, get them to lose the weight, and then feed half of the rats a diet high in resistant starch, these rats don't gain back the weight as fast as rats fed a regular, digestible starch diet. This effect on obesity may help to reduce breast cancer risk as well as having implications for the treatment of colorectal cancer."
 
Higgins noted the results have only been found in laboratory animal research and studies involving small numbers of people. But the findings are promising and point the way to future clinical trials.
 
"There are a lot of things that feed into the same model of resistant starch as a cancer-protective agent," he said. "Much of this information currently comes from rodent models and small clinical trials but the evidence is encouraging."

Special: This Small Group of Doctors are Quietly Curing Cancer
 

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