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Resistant Starch and Pancreatic Cancer

Updated: Jan 17, 2023

Fiber may just be the Rodney Dangerfield of cancer therapies; it gets no respect.

That is until now. Recently there have been scientific articles published describing with fantastic detail how dietary fiber, and in particular a type of fiber known as resistant starch, can influence the development and progression of cancer.

Resistant starch is a type of fiber that travels through the digestive tract intact until it reaches the large intestine. Once in the large intestine the resistant starch is metabolized by the bacteria that reside there. This bacterial metabolism results in a variety of changes, notably formation of short-chain fatty acids. One unique aspect of resistant starch is that it is not metabolized into glucose as many other forms of fiber and starch are. Minimizing glucose, aka human blood sugar, is a smart idea when fighting cancer.

Most people have an idea that fiber is good for them and that they should consume more of it. However, in my 20 years of naturopathic medical practice, running into a patient who actually meets the recommended intake of 20-38 grams of fiber per day is indeed a rarity. Fiber supplements don’t typically make headlines, and maybe that’s why fiber gets little attention and little respect.

That might change in the near future. Recently a medical research article was published that found that resistant starch had the ability to slow down the growth of pancreatic cancer. These researchers looked at the effect that a diet of resistant starch had on markers of growth and progression in mice xenografted with pancreatic cancers. Xenografting mice with pancreatic cancer might not be the nicest thing in the world to the mice, but it is currently one of the best ways of studying cancer in a live system. These are typically specifically bred mice that have human cancers implanted. In this case the mice were xenografted with human pancreatic cancer cells and then fed either a diet containing resistant starch or, as a control, a normal mouse chow.

The researchers then analyzed the differences in the micro-RNA's produced by the mice. Micro-RNA (miRNA) are chunks of proteins that play important roles in the expression of different genes. The genes the miRNA’s can either promote cancer growth or inhibit cancer growth. In this study it was found that mice fed the resistant starch diet produced miRNA’s that are known to inhibit pancreatic cancer growth whereas the mice fed regular mouse chow did not. The MiRNA’s with positive prognostic effects in this study are miRNA-375, miRNA-148a-3p, miRNA-125a-5p, and miRNA-200a-3p. Look here for a detailed look at miRNA’s in pancreatic cancer.

This is really good news. Pancreatic cancer often has a dismal prognosis, and non-drug substances like resistant starch are a welcome addition to the integrative oncology armamentarium.

A favorite way to get resistant starch into your daily routine is to add ½ a frozen green banana to a smoothie.

To read the original article click here.


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