A 20-year trial seems to indicate that a starch found in bananas can reduce some cancers by more than half. The international study, which included researchers from the University of Leeds, has shown a major preventive effect from resistant starch among people with high hereditary risk of cancer. Resistant starch is found in a wide range of foods including oats, breakfast cereal, pasta, rice, peas, beans and slightly green bananas.
Involving almost 1,000 patients with Lynch syndrome from around the world, the study – known as CAPP2 - revealed that a regular dose of resistant starch, 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 (GI) cancers including oesophageal, gastric, biliary tract, pancreatic and duodenal cancers, and was seen to last for 10 years after patients stopped taking the supplement.
The study, led by experts at Leeds and Newcastle University, has been published in Cancer Prevention Research. It 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.
The research is funded by Cancer Research UK, the European Commission, Medical Research Council and the National Institute for Health Research.