‘A banana a day’: Starch supplement may reduce the risk of some hereditary cancers

An international trial has found that resistant starches could help protect people with an elevated risk of hereditary cancers.The decades-long study also reported that resistant starch supplementation reduced cancers in this group by over 60%.The protective effect of these starches lasted at least 10 years after stopping the use of the supplement.Nevertheless, some experts are wary of recommending supplements and suggest eating whole plant foods to stave off cancer.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.

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