Can an asthma drug achieve the same health benefits as “ice plunges” do?
A study performed in people with high hereditary risk of a wide range of cancers has shown a major preventive effect from resistant starch, found in a range of foods such as oats and slightly green bananas. It can also be found in breakfast cereal, cooked and cooled pasta and rice, peas and beans.
“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,” explained 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.
“Resistant starch can be taken as a powder supplement and is found naturally in peas, beans, oats and other starchy foods. The dose used in the trial is equivalent to eating a daily banana; before they become too ripe and soft, the starch in bananas resists breakdown and reaches the bowel where it can change the type of bacteria that live there.
The international trial – known as CAPP2 – involved almost 1000 patients with Lynch syndrome from around the world and revealed that a regular dose of resistant starch, also known as fermentable fiber, taken for an average of two years, did not affect cancers in the bowel but did reduce cancers in other parts of the body by more than half. This effect was particularly pronounced for upper gastrointestinal cancers including oesophageal, gastric, biliary tract, pancreatic and duodenum cancers.
The astonishing effect was seen to last for 10 years after stopping taking the supplement.
The study, led by experts at the Universities of Newcastle and Leeds, published in Cancer Prevention Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research, is a planned double blind 10 year follow–up, supplemented with comprehensive national cancer registry data for up to 20 years in 369 of the participants.