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Eating resistant starch may help stave off colorectal cancer

Category: Cancer Detection and Tumor Markers

People who have a family history of cancer should regularly get blood tests and lab tests to help make sure they are healthy. These individuals should closely follow any scientific studies that point to simple lifestyle changes they can make to help reduce their risk of developing cancer. For example, researchers from the University of Colorado Cancer Center recently discovered that consuming more resistant starch may help people lower their chances of colorectal cancer.

Resistant starch can't be digested, so it ends up in the bowel in more or less the same form it was in when it is first consumed. Researchers set out to determine if the fact that these foods stay whole in the bowel has an effect on colorectal cancer risk.

Eat more starch
According to, resistant starch is a specific type of carbohydrate that can be found in certain fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, and some dairy foods. For example, peas, beans, other legumes, sushi rice, pasta salad and green bananas all contain resistant starch. While other carbs are entirely broken down in the body, resistant fiber gets its name because it resists being entirely digested. Instead, it acts more like fiber, passing through the large intestine intact.

According to the scientists, once resistance starch is in the body it does a lot of positive things. For example, it works to help promote the growth of healthy organisms in the bowel while reducing the bad bacteria that can grow inside the body. To get the benefits of these foods, people need to consume them at room temperature. When they are heated, the resistant starch is gone. This means what while the pasta in cold pasta salad contains resistant starch, when individuals consume hot spaghetti they are not getting the resistant starch.

The scientists found that rats who were fed resistant starch had fewer and smaller lesions that come as a result of colorectal cancer. Furthermore, the researchers said that these findings may suggest that resistant starch could impact other forms of cancer as well.

"Resistant starch may also have implications for the prevention of breast cancer," said researcher Janine Higgins, Ph.D., CU Cancer Center investigator and associate professor of Pediatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, in a statement. "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."

More benefits of resistant starch
Along with potentially helping people fight off cancer, resistant starch may also help individuals shed pounds. According to Fit Day, when resistant starch reaches the large intestine, it ferments and creates a fatty acid called butyrate. This fat prevents the liver from being able to use carbohydrates as fuel, so it has to turn to the excess fat in they body instead. While many products claim to help the body "eat up fat," this suggests that consuming resistant starch may be a more natural way to encourage the body to attack fat.

While there is no set recommendation for how much resistant starch people should consume each day, Fit Day recommends trying to get about 20 grams a day. Currently, most Americans only get about 3 grams of this type of starch on a daily basis.

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