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  • Writer's pictureJake Psenka

Effective Cancer Prevention- even for those with high-risk

Updated: May 10, 2023

One of my favorite supplements for preventing cancer isn’t really a supplement at all, but a food. It’s a type of carbohydrate that is found in certain foods, such as peas, oats, beans, green bananas and plantains and even properly treated potatoes. This carbohydrate is referred to as resistant starch. It is called resistant because it resists digestion until it reaches the large intestine. Once there it feeds the beneficial bacteria that reside there. This bacterial digestion produces compounds called short chain fatty acids, and in particular one known as butyrate. Butyrate is the preferred fuel for the cells that line the gastrointestinal tract. Therefore, one of the many uses of resistant starch is in the treatment of inflammatory bowel disorders- think diverticulosis, Crohn’s disease, and ulcerative colitis.

Resistant starch also has a significant anti-inflammatory effect within the body. Research has demonstrated that resistant starch has the ability to down regulate inflammatory cytokines such as tumor necrosis alpha (TNFa) and up-regulate anti-inflammatory cytokines such as interleukin-10 (IL-10). This can be particularly helpful in inflammatory conditions of all types, such as arthritis or even chronic recurring multifocal osteonecrosis.

It is becoming clear that resistant starch can also help to treat and prevent cancer. If you missed my post about the effect of resistant starch on the growth rate of pancreatic cancer, you might want to check that out.

Recently a study was published that described a nearly 60% reduction in the prevalence of various cancers. Cancers of the upper gastrointestinal tract, such as esophageal, gastric, gallbladder, pancreatic, and small bowel cancers were most prevented by resistant starch. Additionally, this research was done on people who had a hereditary high risk of getting cancer due to having Lynch syndrome. The study participants were asked to take resistant starch for two years and then they were followed to assess the effect. Amazingly, the protective effect of resistant starch lasted for TEN YEARS!

The fact that a starch was able to significantly reduce the risk of cancer for a decade in people with a genetic predisposition for developing cancer is astonishing. However, from a long-view perspective it makes sense. Hominids have been consuming foodstuffs rich in resistant starch for as long at there have been hominids- say 6-7 million years. Over the years our gastrointestinal tracts and our entire bodies because finely tuned to operate on the foods we ate. We modern humans don’t consume nearly as much fiber and resistant starch as our ancestors did. In fact, the average American consumes 5 grams per or less per day. A far cry from the 20+ grams of resistant starch recommended.

I often think about what the optimal fuels are that we require for good health. It is most likely those that we as a species have been eating the longest. High-fiber starch foods are certainly one of those things. For anyone looking to maintain health and prevent health- especially those with Lynch syndrome or a strong family history of cancer, adding some resistant starch to your diet might just be a lifesaver.


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