A banana a day’: Starch supplement may reduce the risk of some hereditary cancers
Resistant starches (RS) are carbohydrates that pass undigested through the small intestine and are digested, or fermented, in the large intestine.
They are present in plant-based foods including beans, oats, breakfast cereals, rice, cooked and cooled pasta, peas, and slightly unripe bananas.
RS forms part of dietary fiber, which is known to reduce the risk of colorectal cancer and many other non-communicable diseases.
Researchers at Newcastle University and the University of Leeds in the United Kingdom found that a RS powder supplement may help prevent cancer in people with Lynch syndrome.
The experts ran a multinational trial called CAPP2 involving almost 1,000 people with Lynch syndrome. They gave the participants a 30g dose of RS for an average of two years.
The supplementation did not affect colorectal cancers as expected. However, unexpectedly, its protective potential was most apparent in the upper digestive tract, where cancers are aggressive and not usually caught early.
These findings appear in Cancer Prevention Research.
What is Lynch syndrome?
Lynch syndrome, an inherited condition, predisposes people to colon cancer, gastric cancer, and several other cancers.
Medical News Today spoke with Dr. Anton Bilchik, surgical oncologist and division chair of general surgery at Providence Saint Johnís Health Center and chief of medicine at Saint Johnís Cancer Institute in Santa Monica, CA.
The U.K.ís National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommends that people with LS take aspirin daily for at least two years to help prevent colorectal cancer.
Until now, prophylactic surgeryTrusted Source to remove noncancerous organs or glands was considered the only preventive measure against LS-related cancers outside the colon.
An unripe banana a day
The CAPP2 trial analyzed the long-term effects of aspirin and RS on cancer onset in patients with Lynch syndrome.
Earlier researchTrusted Source during the trial found that aspirin reduced colorectal cancer by 50%.
A total of 463 participants took 30 g of RS daily for up to four years, and 455 subjects took a placebo.
The dose used was equivalent to eating one slightly unripe banana daily. Bananas at this stage resist breakdown in the small intestine, reaching the large intestine and feeding the microbiome there.
The researchers planned a 10-year follow-up and investigated data from the U.K.ís National Cancer Registry over 20 years.
They found no difference in the number of colorectal cancer cases. However, fewer participants receiving the supplement developed non-colorectal LS cancers compared to those taking the placebo.
The study noted: ìThe reduction in nonñcolorectal cancer LS cancers was detectable in the first 10 years and continued in the next decade.î
Protection against some cancers
RS supplementation over an average of 25 months did not lower colorectal cancer risk in LS patients, the team found.
They reported: ìDietary supplementation with RS for this limited time period does not emulate the apparently protective effect of diets rich in [dietary fiber] against colorectal cancer in the general population.î
Surprisingly, the participants taking RS were 60% less likely to be diagnosed with non-colorectal LS cancers.
The protective effect was most evident with upper GI cancers, including stomach, bile duct, pancreatic, and duodenal cancers. The researchers found five cancers in five participants on RS compared to 21 cancers in 17 of the control group.
Currently, the researchers are leading another multinational trial involving over 1,800 individuals with Lynch syndrome. The CaPP3 study aims to determine if smaller doses of aspirin can help reduce cancer risk.