Resistant starch can reduce hereditary cancer risk by 60 percent

Turns out that green bananas are actually more beneficial than they were thought.
Mert Erdemir
3D rendering red cancer cell divide or spread out
3D rendering red cancer cell divide or spread outPhonlamaiPhoto/iStock
  • A recent study shows that resistant starch has a preventive effect on a range of hereditary cancers.
  • Resistant starch can be found in our daily foods, such as slightly underripe bananas and oats.
  • A trial has shown that a daily dose of resistant starch given for an average of two years did not decrease cancers in the bowel, but it lowered cancers in other parts of the body by more than half.

A recent study conducted by researchers from the Universities of Newcastle and Leeds has shown that resistant starch has a preventive effect on various hereditary cancers. The double-blind longitudinal study tracked almost 1,000 patients with Lynch Syndrome, a hereditary condition that raises the risk of several cancer types, for nearly 20 years.

Resistant starch, also known as fermentable fiber, is a type of carbohydrate that doesn't get digested in the small intestine but ferments in the large intestine and feeds beneficial gut bacteria. It can be found in our daily foods such as slightly underripe bananas, oats, peas and beans, rice, pasta and etc. Researchers further state that resistant starch can be taken as a powder supplement.

"Reducing a range of cancers by over 60%"

An international trial has just shown that a daily dose of resistant starch given for an average of two years did not decrease cancers in the bowel, but it did lower cancers in other parts of the body by more than half. This was specifically valid for cancers of the upper gastrointestinal system, such as those of the esophagus, gastric, biliary tract, pancreas, and duodenum. Nearly 1,000 Lynch syndrome patients from around the world took part in the CAPP2 experiment. The effects of the supplement persisted for 10 years after the trial was stopped.

“We found that resistant starch reduces a range of cancers by over 60%. The effect was most obvious in the upper part of the gut,” said Professor John Mathers, professor of Human Nutrition at Newcastle University. “This is important as cancers of the upper GI tract are difficult to diagnose and often are not caught early on.

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An unripe banana per day

The dosage that was tested is equal to eating a banana per day. Before they become too ripe and soft, the starch in bananas resists decomposition until it reaches the colon, where it can alter the sort of bacteria that reside there.

“When we started the studies over 20 years ago, we thought that people with a genetic predisposition to colon cancer could help us to test whether we could reduce the risk of cancer with either aspirin or resistant starch," said Professor Sir John Burn from Newcastle University and Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, who conducted the trial with Professor Mathers.

As the results of the trial are promising, eating an unripe banana could be the key to preventing some specific types of cancer.

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