Study suggests resistant starch supplement can help prevent hereditary cancer


Results from an international trial indicated that resistant starch supplements had a significant preventative effect on a wide range of cancers in those with Lynch Syndrome (LS), a genetic disorder that increases the risk of many forms of cancer.

The study was published in Cancer Prevention Research and led by scientists at Newcastle University and University of Leeds, both in the United Kingdom. Researchers aimed to discover whether taking resistant starch, also called fermented fiber, supplements helped patients with LS avoid cancer.

The study involved 1,000 patients with LS from around the world. Participants took either a daily dose of 30 grams of resistant starch supplement or a placebo for up to four years, with an average of two years.

“Resistant starch can be taken as a powder supplement and is found naturally in peas, beans, oats, and other starchy foods,” explained John Mathers, PhD, professor of Human Nutrition at Newcastle University, in a statement.  “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 results showed that the starch did not affect cancers in the bowel. In other parts of the body, cancers were reduced by more than half. The supplement was particularly effective in decreasing rates of upper gastrointestinal cancers such as esophageal, gastric, biliary tract, pancreatic, and duodenum cancers. The supplement’s effects were shown to be beneficial for patients up to 10 years after stopping their resistant starch supplement regimen.

“We found that resistant starch reduces a range of cancers by over 60 percent. The effect was most obvious in the upper part of the gut,” said Mathers. “This is important as cancers of the upper GI tract are difficult to diagnose and often are not caught early on.”

According to researchers, this study suggests that resistant starch can be effective in helping to prevent certain cancers in those with LS, especially when paired with aspirin which previous studies have also shown to help with preventing cancer.