Mohave County
May 2024
Volume 24 Issue 3

Eating more navy beans may help with colorectal cancer prevention

Health, January 2024, Journal | 0 comments

January 2024

Colorectal cancer, the third most common cancer worldwide, is highly treatable at its earliest stage. However, most cases are discovered when more advanced, and between 7% and 29% of colorectal cancer patients experience recurrence within five years of treatment. Certain lifestyle changes, including diet, can help in its prevention.
Recent research from The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center indicates that adding navy beans, also known as haricot beans, to the diet of colorectal cancer survivors may improve their gut microbiome, aiding in cancer prevention and treatment. Colorectal cancer affects the large intestine, including the colon and the rectum, and is most treatable when diagnosed at an early stage.
Dr. Carrie Daniel-MacDougall, associate professor of epidemiology at The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center and lead author of the study, emphasized the benefits of navy beans. Inspired by promising findings in early preclinical studies and the Polyp Prevention Trial (PPT), which showed a lower risk of advanced colorectal adenoma recurrence with increased bean consumption, navy beans were chosen for their mild taste and adaptability.
The gut microbiome’s balance is crucial for colorectal cancer survivors as it interacts directly with the colon epithelium, where the cancer develops. This interaction is closely linked to the immune system, which can either prevent or drive inflammation and cancer development. Dr. Daniel-MacDougall stressed the importance of a healthy gut microbiome in preventing colorectal cancer recurrence and other chronic conditions.
A study published in July 2023 suggested the gut microbiome as a target for microbial therapeutics against colorectal cancer. Another study from June 2020 found that personalized modulation of the gut microbiome through diet could help prevent colorectal cancer development and improve the efficacy of antitumoral therapy.
In the study, 55 participants over 30 with a history of bowel lesions or high risk for precancerous polyps were randomized. Over eight weeks, some participants added a daily cup of organic, canned, pressure-cooked white navy beans to their diet. Researchers found that this addition led to positive changes in the gut microbiome, including an increase in beneficial bacteria like Faecalibacterium, Eubacterium, and Bifidobacterium, and a decrease in pathogenic bacteria.
Dr. Daniel-MacDougall highlighted the nutritional benefits of navy beans, rich in dietary fiber and plant-based protein, containing prebiotic nutrients, oligosaccharides, the amino acid lysine, and anti-inflammatory micronutrients like the flavonoid apigenin.
Dr. Anton Bilchik, a surgical oncologist, stressed the importance of this study, noting the substantial role of gut bacteria in preventing cancer and cardiovascular disease. He emphasized the need for physicians to discuss gut health with colorectal cancer patients, considering the influence of diet on gut bacteria and its potential in preventing cancer recurrence.
Dr. Bilchik also pointed out the link between processed foods and a higher incidence of colorectal cancer, emphasizing the importance of diet and nutrition in both the prevention and treatment of colorectal cancer. He highlighted that healthier foods could stimulate good bacteria, potentially preventing cancer recurrence.
—Corrie Pelc

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