Starch May Reduce Risk of Colorectal Cancer from Red Meat

While a diet high in red meat may increase the risk of colorectal cancer, consumption of starch may help reduce the risk, according to a recent study.

The results of this study are important, according investigators, because meat consumption has doubled since the 1960’s in the United States, Europe, and other developing nations.

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For the study, 23 healthy participants (17 male, 6 female, ages 50 to 75 years) ate 300 g of lean red meat or red meat with butyrate-resistant starch daily for a total of 4 weeks.  After the 4-week period, the participants switched to the opposite diet for another duration of 4 weeks.

The results showed that the participants yielded a 30% increase in miR-17-92 (a genetic molecule) in their rectal tissue along with heightened cell multiplication after consuming 300 g of lean red meat every day for 4 weeks.

Researchers found that after participants consumed 40 g of butyrate-resistant starch daily in addition to the red meat (over 4 weeks), their miR-17-92 levels lowered to baseline.

“Good examples of natural sources of resistant starch include bananas that are still slightly green, cooked and cooled potatoes [such as potato salad], whole grains, beans, chickpeas, and lentils. Scientists have also been working to modify grains such as maize so they contain higher levels of resistant starch,” said Karen J. Humphreys, PhD, an author of the study and research associate at the Flinders Center for Innovation in Cancer at Flinders University in Adelaide, Australia.

The complete study is published in the August issue of Cancer Prevention Research.

-Michelle Canales


American Association for Cancer Research. Eating resistant starch may help reduce red meat-related colorectal cancer risk. August 4, 2014. Accessed August 4, 2014.